Our dear Maria Delizia…

IMG_0089Our dear, sweet neighbor below us died yesterday. An unexpected & terribly sad event. A niece called us from the hospital with the devastating news while we were driving down to Codiponte for a post-Christmas lunch with Our English Friends. The rest of the journey was quietly dedicated to reminiscing about Gigliana… her nickname and how we affectionately knew her. On the books, she was Maria Delizia Spadoni…

Gigliana was undoubtedly Our Adoptive Mother in Codiponte. Through her we met Codiponte relatives & friends speeding our entry & acceptance into life of the village. She was unstintingly generous to us and The Dogs, mostly through Our Stomachs. The Dogs were enthusiastic recipients of huge panini chucked from a kitchen window. She was never without a smile or a good thing to say though struck low by a handicap which consigned her days to sitting in the kitchen. The world had to come to her and we did happily & regularly… to sit & drink a piping hot cup of caffe’ to chat and hear the latest or, to sit-down to a mountain of food for a Saturday pranzo. Whatever she had was ours too. And, we took everyone who came to visit us down to meet her… from You’s Mom to mine and from many friends from America to Genoa. We packed them into her kitchen. She loved it. And, she was You’s unofficial appointment secretary with all the Codiponte vecchiette e anziani seeking a consultation with il Dottore.

We shall miss Gigliana very much. Our Little Codiponte World won’t be so congenial now that she is gone.

And so, tomorrow, Tuesday, the 31st of December, at 3PM, we will pay our respects at the Pieve di Codiponte. It will not be our last… we shall never forget her and what she meant to us. Love…

 

 

End-iron Christmas…

Christmas has come & gone. The Shut-down is over. Time to post again and guess what?

IMG_4081Remember these? You’s recently published flea-market find of miniature end-irons. Happily purchased in a junque-store in the Udinese hinterland… or, the back-of-beyond outside Udine, Italy. You had expressed the half-cocked idea of using them for Our Christmas Table Decor. I graciously kept My Mouth shut. If you have been anxiously awaiting what he dreamt up for the buffet table, take a gander at these views…

IMG_4127

IMG_4090

Leaving aside questions of aesthetics or taste, though it pains me to do so, I can report that You’s Yuletide Mission was accomplished… none of his 20 family members noticed what was was holding the lone myrtle branch on top of cinnamon logs tied with a Xmas bow, while squirrels nibbled about and to avoid the red & white Xmas balls, was, in fact, a pair of rusty end-irons. How about that praying hands candle? Gads.

IMG_4127

 

Vacation websites…

…or, My Winter’s Work. Since returning to My Genoese Home-front, I have begun Googling for new vacation websites to enroll Il Poggiolo for the forth-coming Vacation Season 2014. My Quest for expanding Our Farm-house’s exposure to the vacation market. It may just be lunacy. Lots out there on the net. Too much. And, at the end of many long pre-Christmas days before a laptop, few have become viable candidates. See, I have this preference for pay-per-booking plans. This is often contrary to many of the vacation websites. They’d like their money up-front with a pre-paid ad, customers come what may. I want to pay these sites after they have earned it first. No customers, no $$$. Here’s the lunacy = I think the pay-per-booking makes the sites more responsible. The Google adventure led me to select five prospective sites. Enrolling with three of them became a via crucis…

one was so ridiculously simple to apply & post, I should’ve known. All the site required was to create a logon name & password and off I could trot to post photos, prices, savory blurbs right & left about Il Poggiolo, Codiponte & the Lunigiana. When it came the moment to actually enroll Il Poggiolo with the pay-per-booking option, seemingly slipping cybernetically into another Time-Space Continuum, the site turned punitive. A series of auto-emails, some in atrociously written & spelled English… smacked of fraud. I get 2 or 3 emails a week similarly attired which are sure-fire attempts to rip me off… appeared on the screen… necessary bank details beyond the standard account number & IBAN… required several phone calls to my bank… my passport and a utility bill scanned & sent for investigation by an associate payment company to identify me as the property owner…???… another attached form to be signed & scanned & sent for further investigation by the home company and the completion of an enrollment form for the pay-per-booking plan… a Do-not-pass-go… obligating me to guarantee obedience to the plan’s procedures, which, to me, negates the proper transparency to prices, fees & cancellations. The Big Bug-a-boo was the site’s cancellation policy… a full 100% refund even for a cancellation on the day before. None of the above exists on the 8 sites I have signed up from last year’s adventure into vaca-. But, I did it all, mumbling to myself that I can always cancel the listings. Che sara’ sara’?

another site required a telephone conversation to post any details… baring photos, which I would be given permission to upload only after the telephone call… of Il Poggiolo yet, with a language & terminology akin to a hotel room. It was confusing to hear room spoken to imply house or apartment. I got fed up during one appointment… Christmas Time Nerves, I suppose… and it eventully took three calls to get through the process… and the poor operator/consultant/other pleaded with me not to cancel. I felt bad. So, I made My Amends and am now listed. Whoopee?

and for the last, another site constrains property owners to incorporate all fees & deposits into the one price for nightly, weekly & monthly. Thus, a 3-night stint will cost per night nearly as much as one for 5. And, I said so to Customer Service. The reply was the vaca-site thought it would be better for the clients. I hazarded to write back that the program should be better for both… client & property owner. A reply has yet to grace my electronic mailbox. What will be next?

Tedious, Onerous. Wearisome. I remembered the first vaca-site I had signed-up with, one which required all the Patience of Job = days + days + days of back ‘n forth emails & telephone calls to fathom the site’s IT-system, policy & posting requirements… whatever… and I have still to enjoy the luxury…???… of A Paying Customer.

So, there’s A New Rule for the boards…

sites which are the biggest pain in the buttocks are more than likely the ones which bear little paying fruit.

Live ‘n Learn? 2014 will tell the tale. Gads.

 

 

 

Tedious. Onerous.

Dreaming of Christmas snow?…

The Dogs and I have been away from Codiponte for a week now. Il Poggiolo feels far, far away. No sooner had The Dogs entered Our Genoese Open-Space and trotted over to reclaim their individual fuzzy velour-covered mattresses… naturally, arranged next to My Desk and why when we have practically 2,000 square feet of open-space?… than they came knocking to go o-u-t out. They thump the nearest part of me with their Weimaraner noses. A canine Get-with-it-bud. In less than an afternoon on Our First Day Home, we three were back to Our 4 W-a-l-k-s-a-day to either of the scuzzy parks nearby… 8AM, 1PM, 4PM & 9PM. An exhausting schedule. How can I do You’s laundry? The same in Codiponte is at 9AM & 4PM! Ditto for sniffing, etc. Moses, on auto-pilot, went back to ambling along with his nose in the down position to canvas the icky grasses for something cogent to lap at. Euw, ick. Nina missed n’er a beat to tugging & darting back ‘n forth on a grassy median ripe with traces of field mice, who have burrowed bungalows in the crappy hedges there. Everything’s back to the way it was in May. And, as if Our 7 Month-Non-stop Sojourn at Il Poggiolo had never transpired. Before, after and/or in between all those W-a-l-k-s, The Dogs sleep. IMG_0067And they sleep and they sleep and they sleep and sleep. THIS is abnormal. They could be depressed. Or, maybe bored. IMG_0705Producing a HUGE quantity of ZZZZZs, I bet those 2 Dogs dream of those panini breakfasts down at Our Neighbor’s… hour-long pastoral walks leash-less… sun-bathing in the courtyard… burying bread or bunnies next to the box-woods… OR, a Christmas snow!

IMG_0610

Codiponte Christmas…

TUB! has taken a break.
Hey! It’s going to be Christmas soon. May I remind everyone that this holy day DOES NOT HAPPEN until the 25th of December and NOT on the 25th of October? At this time, I would like to thank all the cool folk over at the MSNBC website for showing that enlightening video of Christmas decorations already strung-up in a shopping-mall in some flat place in Florida in the middle of October. So exhausting. Smacks worse than an American Presidential Election Campaign. But as we fast approach the Yuletide Season, You & I heard a tale of how la festa natalizia for Christ’s Birthday once were celebrated back in the Good ‘Ol Days in Codiponte…

we were invited by one of Our Neighbors to come over so she could give us a bottle of her very own olive oil… freshly squeezed. The Codiponte natives… and about everyone else who lives where there’s even a stick of an olive tree about… are working like fools… despite the Holiday Season… to harvest the olives of this year’s crop. A slow go. And a long one too! Probably won’t end until March 2014. There are options of employment, however, to this yearly & seasonal punishment = A) one can beat the olive tree’s limbs silly into thinking twice about holding on to its fruit with a special rake, bacchiando gli olivi… B) if you had the smarts & energy 2 to 3 months prior to lay down nets raised on short sticks right underneath the olive tree or trees… olives ain’t suppose to really touch the ground… then, all you have to do is lift one end & let the juicy buggers roll down to be collected by another person. This is not without its annoying disadvantages… the Assistant is more than likely either a teenager, who is totally NOT INTERESTED in any sort of manual labor or, a worried wife wondering if she, distractedly, had left i panini a casa per un pic-nic… C) and this last is truly the druge of the harvest, one gets down on their hands ‘n knees and picks the olive escapees right off the g-r-o-u-n-d!!! Now, imagine a life of beating, lifting & scraping for five long months of Winter. Christmas will be a nice AND necessary relief. I cannot say by which method Our Neighbor procured her goods but, the bottle she handed over to us is splendidly green with oil and there wafts about it a pungent smell of olives. The green will eventually turn to a clear green-gold, once the sediment quiets down. I’d say by April 2014 we can serve it on un’insalata.

What does olive oil have to do with Christmas? Not much but, read on anyway…

Naturally, any invitation with anyone in these parts involves sitting down to a caffe’ e un dolce. Over these did Our Conversation turn to plans for Christmas. Our neighbor gave us a synopsis for the holiday at her house with an added sigh of how Christmas… once-upon-a-time… was festeggiato in our little community…

on Christmas Eve, the 24th, the village would wait out until the 12 o’clock Midnight Hour to attend Mass. No eating, no drinking, just waiting. That was for the Men. As for the Women, they were slaving over a hot stove preparing the pies & meats & salads & cakes & this’s & that’s for the post-Mass buffet. And the kids drove everyone nuts. Once Mass ended at around one in the morning, the villagers would either go home to host or go out & call on their neighbors & friends & family in the village, eating & drinking & talking until 7 or 8 on the morning of Christmas Day.

Sounded wonderful to us. That’s show we’d like to do Christmas! Might be a tough go. One of us always falls asleep in front of the TV at around 9 each night and the other would go on sciopero if forced to cook a mess of food without a even drop of vino bianco. Gads.

 

 

 

TUB! Christmas…

IMG_4081Don’t be alarmed. Nothing to do with torture. Not yet, at least. They do resemble bizarre crucifixes though. Must have been torture for Jesus. Gosh! Someone has got a birthday coming up. Those pictured items are only mini-fireplace end-irons. You found them at a mercatino… or, flea-market in Udine. Paid the whopping price of 2 Euros. TUB! applauds these sorts of inexpensive Euro investments. The tucked-away emporium was a NEW! find too. And apparently, ’twas a mother lode. You’s AUDI was jammed, jammed, jammed packed full of Goodies. Even the top of the passenger’s side of the dashboard had some Gs. Felt & looked like Christmas. I am a little amazed, being so encumbered & all, why You was not stopped by the Carabinieri for suspicion of thievery, in light of on-going events… the thieves are still loose & very much active throughout the entire Lunigiana. Il Popolo non e’ contento.

As Mr. Sunhsine crossed the December sky, You spent all of the Saturday afternoon unloading, lugging & unwrapping The NEW! NEW!! NEW!!! Goodies. Even past sundown. I was trying to bring closure with Il Poggiolo for My Return to Life in Genoa by cleaning & straightening. You made a mess. The result of being over-joyed. When in such a State of Ecstasy, he sings under his breath with a pseudo-baritone voice. You really is way too short for that but, I keep my mouth shut. The tactic, however, covers the tracks of his Joy. A private affair. By the time You had brought out a hand-painted jardinière of frolicking maidens twirling garlands into the real dim 5 o’clock light seeping into the Sala da Pranzo from the Cucina’s window, he was belting out Verdi! And, his singing never faltered, whether for a waist-high mock-malachite marble pedestal, a tall brass floor-lamp with a pergamena shade showing quaint scenes of an olives harvest… so delightfully apropos to the labors of the real olive harvest up on the slopes above Codiponte’s Commie Apt. House… a 1930s rattan recliner with a printed cotton mezzeri cushion, two large & furry badger pelts and… and… and well, a lot more Goodies.

Part of the haul were the pair of these end-irons. It’s going to be a TUB! Christmas this year! Hang onto your Santa hats & Elf caps… You has had a Happy Holiday idea. He wants to use the end-irons as table decorations for Our Christmas Day Family Dinner on the 25th. Just what exactly he has in mind has yet to be announced. While he cogitates, let me give some possible TUB! Christmas decoration ideas… however, since I have not had a moment free upon My Return to Genoa to descend down to Level -1 and forage around in You’s storage locker to pull out what there is in the way of Christmas decorations, I will have to give you brief written descriptions…

a) the Christmas Minimalist Concept might be placing the end-irons in such a way as to balance a HUGE Red Christmas ornament between them. The enormous orb was a gift from a grateful patient several years back. This will save us both from attempting to dangle the darn thing from the Foyer’s chandelier and TUB! is delighted by using what’s on hand too... b) boughs of alloro… or, bay leaf branches, again, intertwined to make a Yule-tide basket between the two irons to hold either the traditional clementines & chocolates or a motley array of Christmas ornaments… and c) string micro-mini-ultra-small LED in red, green & silver to link the two end-irons from either end of Our Dining Room Table AND, for the Christmas piece de la resistance, a tiny Santa Klaus might tip-toe across. This is very big in Italy… the Santa, no the LED. I can already hear Our Halls… i.e. Our Open-space Loft walls reverberate with My Call… WATCH OUT FOR THE CORD, EVERYONE!!!

Anyway, I think these TUB! ideas beats Martha Stewart by hundreds of… kilometers. Do you think she would know an end-iron if one were to bite her? Who cares? We are on Our Way to a TUB! Christmas.

Stay tuned for more! 

 

 

 

Shuttered up…

Yesterday, Sunday, the 8th of December, You & I closed up Il Poggiolo for the Winter & Holiday Seasons and drove back to Genoa with The Dogs. I have not put a foot down in My Official Italian Place of Residence… i.e. Our Genoese Home since May. Seven and a half months. A mild sort of record, I suppose. Sunday was an important holiday on the Catholic Calendar… L’Immacolata Concezione della Beata Vergine Maria. A day celebrating Mary’s virgin birth… Jesus was NOT the only one!!!… and to spend it with relatives eating a big pranzo at a local restaurant. By the number of tractors & FIAT Pandas lumbering up the flood damaged road to the olive groves above Codiponte, once the sun hit the hills, that pranzo was going to be un panino con prosciuto eaten on a grassy slope under an olive tree before resuming the olive harvest. That will go on until March 2014! There was also tons of traffic too in Aulla and out on the A-15 autostrada. It was the 1st weekend stores could stay open for the Christmas shopping spree. And then, there was the Partito Democratico’s election primary, if you felt like voting. The Putz won. Gads.

IMG_2581

TUB! bulbs…

She’s unavoidable. I ran into Gwyn- again last night. I had methodically gone to the BBC World Service going for full saturation from the news & tributes dedicated to the passing of Nelson Mandela. Quiet a fellow, a class act, now gone. But there, in the lower right-hand corner of the BBC web-page was her… AND the fayeshion designer, Michael Kors. A suspect infomercial. Both were shown laughing. Gwyn- must have a HUGE pubilicity machine working for her. She’s everywhere! For instance: the Daily Mail posted her. She had just won a reprieve with Vanity Fair over the magazine’s attempt to publish a less than complimentary article on her… and hey? Over at The New York Times, they had a warm & cutsy article in their Fashion & Style Section… isn’t that a big surprise… on all of Gwyn-‘s chummy and equally rich & famous friends, many with their own life-style blogs too… etc. What’s Goop-ing? The two celebrities, a Hollywood actor + fayeshion maven have happily collaborated on a coat for Goop costing $1,600. No wonder they were laughing.

But gosh… here at Il Poggiolo… and by osmosis, TUB! too... a mighty lot of plants could be had for that figure, even translated into Euros, and sunk into Mother Earth to do their God-ordained thing. Plants are bright & cheerful. What does a coat do? It hangs. On your hide or a hanger. But, please, let me further dispute that $1,600. Why spend so much? At TUB! we like to spend much, much less and get a lot of product. How about 5 cents? Here…

IMG_4073

these iris-bulbs cost 5 cents, give or take. And, very soon, like in less than an hour, long enough for me to finish this post & pell-mell myself away from the laptop and head into the Garden, they will be distributed & buried up to their necks in whatever spot needs a bright, cheery iris-flower.

Why don’t we turn to the Math now to Compare & Constrast…

100 bulbs x 5 cents = 5 bucks + My Time & Labor of about 3 hours… or, until pranzo, whichever comes first… and massively discounted ’cause I’m a nice guy… brings the total to, say… hmmm? How about 25 buckeroos? That’s $1,575 less than what that collaborated coat cost and you won’t have to give it away to Goodwill when the thing goes out of style in about…  Ooops! So, sorry… goes out of life-style. No. Those iris-bulbs will flower until the sun don’t shine no mo’!!!

Baring that happenstance, here is Me smiling for an eventual TUB! infomercial…

IMG_1170

 

 

 

 

 

 

More later.