Spring assaults…

There isn’t a photo to capture what I really want to say. So, onwards…

You & I made a quick House & Garden Inspection Tour last weekend in between funerals, a Sunday luncheon and a Saturday night pizza-dinner too. I felt disgusted by the disorder & dirtiness both inside & out. So, when the rains abate… we are now on a new improved Weather Rhythm of 2 days of sunshine for every 5 yucky… I will head down to Codiponte with The Dogs for a week’s worth of assaulting H & G until I am satisfied. Here’s the List Of Tasks so far compiled…

Outside… clean the under-passage of crinkled leafy UFOs, ditto for the courtyard, drag plants from their winter quarters in the Stanza dei Tini, take junk to the dumpsters, re-build the ramp’s stone borders & steps, re-seed for the nth time the same zone, burn organic materials, re-do the peony beds down at the Scenic Over-look into a more undulating & decorative border than the current rectangular postage-stamp looking plot, plant still more lavender where needed… I envision the necessity of another 50 or so plants… transplant a couple of errantly placed shrubs so You will stop his infernal complaining for the error of My Garden Ways. Those who do should be EXEMPT of blame from those who don’t!!!… he says he was un-Democratically denied his participation. And, I said… Oh, really? And who told you that we have a parliamentary form of government, caro?… plug holes in the rock walls with guess what? More rocks!!!, clean & set straight the Dining Loggia… Rambo must have a thorough dusting off… put in order the legnaia’s collection of burnable branches, ie, so they can be eventually burned, re-organize the plastic pots meticulously saved for chissa motive, prune the fig tree… un absolute must… and its many brother & sister fruit trees too, rake & seed the grass terraces, FERTILIZE EVERYTHING!!!, weed-whack the path around the garden, fix the guide wires for the willows about to fall over due to extreme rain-provoked erosion, etc…

Inside… dust, vacuum & clean every stick of furniture, bric-a-brac, artwork, rug or not, find homes for the latest over-the-top array of You’s flea-market acquisitions from hither & yon… I fail to see reason for You to ever complain when I say Yes! to what all he drags home from his junque-store forays… tackle the refrigerators by divesting them of their Euw-ick-states, cull anything dead, clean-up the Stanza di Tini of its post-earthquake tremors, ditto for the non-sequitur room next to it, re-paint patches in the houses which will not require additional work beyond that, etc…

For now, enough. Gads.

 

Weekend funerals…

You & I were invited down to Codiponte last Sunday, the 23rd of February, for a luncheon hosted by Our English Friends there. The excuse, which I eagerly leapt upon for another consistently exquisite meal… often found to be single at il Poggiolo, thanks to You’s work-a-day hospital & weekend update seminars, I have become adept at arranging invites to eat AND have maintained an unblemished record of return visits!!!…  was the visit of their daughter to Our Fair Village. What a global gad-about she is. An actress with a traveling Danish theater troupe, Odet Teatret… Shhh! It’s a bit left-wing… Our English Friend’s daughter’s Life is a week’s worth of performances in Bali, followed by another in Tokyo, then off to Rio and up to Caracas where, as per recent renegade & violent demonstrations from both sides of an argument post-Chavez, she… they… had to cut the stay short and flee to a waiting Lufthansa Airbus 330 at the Caracas Airport on the other side of a mountain from the city in chaos.
This daughter is famous for Our English Friend’s Story about the time he was stopped by the Italian Carabinieri for some infraction interrupting their ebb & flow… 9 out of 10 tiimes from scratching their Italian crotches… while heading on a vacationwith his aggregate family. Upon hearing the charge for being so summarily flagged down, Our Friend angrily spouted out at one of the Carabinieri… You are a fucking asshole!!! Naturally, this did not stand well with the Carabinieri. However, before anyone could physically react to Our English Friend’s declaration, the daughter whispered in his ear that it might have been better to have said… Go and fuck yourself!!!… since THAT would have had to be taken as a suggestion… thanks to Italian Law… and not as a very ill-advised expression of opinion. Such are the Italian tactics for not strangling each other on the side of a state highway.
Not all was well in Codiponte as we drove down on a splendidly gorgeous sunny Saturday morning. Our Dutch Friend called to let us know that her ex-Milanese father-in-law was near death. We had known of that direction in the poor gentleman’s health, but not that it was so soon. A couple of hours later came the second call that the dear man had passed away and the funeral was scheduled an hour and a half before Our Sunday Luncheon. A very odd item for us Americans is… in Italy, they’ll have weddings & funerals & baptisms & confirmations on the Sabbath!!! And they complain that our stores are always open, holidays or not!
In between the first and the second calls from Our Dutch Friend, a cousin of the family who had just lost their mother and Our Dear Neighbor before New Year’s, called to tell us the husband of the eldest daughter was near death. Oh, Lord! We had known of the poor husband’s extreme ill-health, that he was in the hospital with little hope, but not that he too was at Death’s Door. All too sudden. And, as Destiny dictated, the second call from yet another cousin came Saturday evening with the sad news of the daughter’s husband’s departure from this world and that his funeral would be for Monday afternoon at 3:30.
These events are hard blows for a village of Codiponte, or any Italian village for that matter, seeing way more deaths than births. It was written across the many, many faces of Our Friends & Fellow Villagers at these funerals. I am so attached to this wonderful place, it pains me… and You too… terribly.
The luncheon was superb. A fish & shrimp & potato cassarole alla francese, a light & savory salad AND, blessedly, tons of Our English Friend’s home-made white wine. The piece de la resistance of the meal was an opulently decorated & tasty fruit tort.
Home we rode Sunday evening after shutting up Il Poggiolo post-luncheon and I rode back to Codiponte again for the Monday funeral. I was stunned at the turn out. I had imagined  30 to 40 attendees for a man who barely spoke 5 words… to me or anyone. No. 500 to 600 family, friends & local citizens. Cars parked out of any nook & cranny. Church was beyond packed. Traffic outside on the state road stopped by the police. And, I am not a Catholic. You might have noticed, however, I must say, to hear all attending in & out of the church singing & responding in unison to the Catholic Eucharist was… is moving… whether old, young, man, woman or child above the age of 13, fat, thin, frail or stout, they all shared in the ceremony. I find that pretty darn wonderful. My Favourite Part though, if I could express a preference at an Italian funeral, is the carrying of the casket from the church on the strong shoulders of men to the cemetery, other men proceeding with the Cross & purple banners, the placing of the casket on a stand before its final resting place for One Last Salute. I am always irritated by You when I am ready to go home after a party/dinner/other. Say your Good-byes and dammit, let’s be off. No. It takes, on the average, another hour for You and the Italians to say their Good-byes. Ditto for their funerals too. Yet, I do not complain. Gads.

Black & rainy Monday…

Last Monday… and may the 10th of February 2014 be forever chiseled in History… incessant & heavy rains struck Genoa. Alerts were also sounded throughout Northern Italy, the Lunigiana included. OK. The Dogs & I could stay in. I must paint, write blogs, nap. Well, I could until those 2 Weimar-dogs refused to tolerate being cooped-up inside any longer and started to hound me. Their dual enthusiasm for going outside died as soon as they Sniffed & Saw what was truly waiting for them beyond the big doors to the apartment building. They bolted for the elevator and home, somewhere above. And, may I say to defend myself? Lined nylon rain-jackets are of little consequence to a Weimaraner, when it rains. What runs through their brains is… Rain is rain and is to be avoided. And, so be it.
While munching on a quickly made tuna-fish salad sandwich, I called several of Our Codiponte Friends to have first-hand accounts of The Big Rain Day 2014…
I punched… remember the days when you dialed a telephone number?… Our Dutch Friend’s cellphone… remember when the only phones were plugged to a wall socket?… and she answered while standing in an absolute deluge on a precipice overlooking rushing rain-water where once was the short-cut trail to her house from the state road below. I told her in a rather urgent, even dictatorial, tone of voice to head for drier territory, i.e. the safety of her home and rang off.
I next called Our English Friends. I had not yet caught them at home to confirm Our Attendance at a Sunday Luncheon with them on the 23rd of February. Calling at lunch-time and during a rain alert heightened the probability of finding them at home. They were.
The Friend who answered gave a very worrisome report. The rain was so intense, there was a background roar on the line, making it hard for either of us to understand the other. The Friend persisted, excusing for the noise from the rain pounding the roof & stone pavements outside the room’s only window, adding that she could not see a thing beyond the sill. She continued… earlier in the morning, she had gone out in her FIAT to buy some missing provisions, but turned around out of fear from the ruckus of the rain hammering the roof of her car… I couldn’t even think to drive!… and much less to see the road, with so much water pouring off the escarpments onto the state road. Just before I had called, a neighbor had braved the foul weather to come to tell Our English Friends of landslides blocking the state road in both directions thus, nearly completely isolating Codiponte. I said I had gotten the watery picture and rang off with hopeful words for better weather on the 23rd.
I then made the tactical error of calling a relative of one of You’s hospital colleagues, who also happens to live in Our Village of Codiponte at the foot… or would it be feet?… of the grotesque Commie House. Dire, dire, dire! Torrential & unceasing rains since the day before, the Aullela River cresting its banks, mud-slides everywhere isolating the village, rivers of water pouring down streets… all the way to describing how her garbage dumpsters were now nearly completely submerged with rain-water. Pretty agitated after the 10 minute spiel of Woe Is Me & The Sky is Falling… in buckets… I rang off whispering Thanks Be To God I was not down at Il Poggiolo.
The rains eventually ceased in Genoa towards what would have been the 10 o’clock News Hour, if I lived in the Midwest of the US. I don’t. And, I am very glad I don’t. Way too much COLD & SNOW for me. In the quiet and what was to us the dead of night, my cellphone rang. Who’s calling so late? It was the Colleague’s Relative calling to inform me there was also an earthquake tremor at what was the Italian News Hour of 8 o’clock PM. 2.9 on the Richter Scale. And with that, I said My Prayers and bid the world A Good Night. Gads.

Vacation scams…

Thank God, we are finished with January! February’s running now and is next door to March and Spring! Spring!! Spring!!! However, the new month came in wet. Real wet. This cramps My Two Weimaraner’s Life-style of 4 w-a-l-k-s a day. So they get 2 with the added treat of tussling them into their respective rain-suits… RED for Nina-beena and BLACK for Mr. Moses. They HATE them. Fine. Can dogs catch pneumonia?

In the meantime, I have been manning The Reservation Desk for Il Poggiolo. Not too much coming down the pike. One wrote and asked if a chef could be arranged for a 4-day visit in March. I suggested eating out instead. There’s more local Culture & Atmosphere at a trattoria and the food would be the same, if not better. Nothing beats the ravioli la signora del Bar Cecchi prepares for pranzo! Have not heard back. Another asked if the whole house could be taken for just 2 persons for a week in July. I sent an immediate why-not. Who am I to say what 2 persons would want/need/other with 3,000+ square feet of farm-house on two floors plus garden even though, I must say myself, the entire house is splendidly decorated & furnished. And then, there have been the entertaining and once-a-week Con-mails. Or, that’s what I call them. Usually sent from the UK and written in an extraordinarily creative though grammatically alarming version of English, these con-requests seek sorts of accommodations which have nothing to do with Il Poggiolo like, for example, to house a wedding party of 30 and the absolute need of a swimming pool! These con-folk must pick up My E-mail Address from hacking vacation rental sites rather than paying a kind visit to Il Poggiolo’s website at: http://forrestspears.com/ilpoggioloacodiponte

I cannot figure out what the swindle would be beyond the Terms & Conditions set in the first Con-mail expedited from a Gentleman From Glasgow last year. I thought at first that the request for availability in June for 6 persons plus costs was legitimate. I promptly replied though mildly suspicious from the mail’s bizarre English. 48 hours passed then, a reply. Il Poggiolo’s accommodations were confirmed for 6 persons in June. I sent another e-mail explaining payment options through PayPal, etc. All seemed on its way. 48 hours passed and then, another reply. And what a reply! The Gentleman From Glasgow demanded that I accept not only the payment for the week’s stay at Il Poggiolo to My Italian Bank but, tons more cash too for the guest’s living expenses while staying at Il Poggiolo and for which I would be responsible to make payments to restaurants, bars, etc on their behalf. ??????? What crossed My Mind as I read & re-read the Gentleman’s Terms & Conditions was this might be a scam to funnel money out of the UK… drug money, prostitution money, oil $$$S, whatever… hidden by the common pretext of expediting funds for a vacation rental in a foreign land. Or, with the bank account number, a sly method to hack its balance. Who’s to say? I’m not that smart nor conniving. I sent back what was My Final Communication to the Gentleman From Glasgow reconfirming My Terms & Conditions and only they were to transpire between us, nothing more, nothing less than those. I got one last e-mail from the Gentleman From Glasgow re-demanding his. I read it for its entertainment value and then hit DELETE.

Since then, the Con-mails have been more far-fetched & financially complex and quite frequent too. They all continue to rigorously maintain a complete ignorance of Il Poggiolo as a vacation rental in the most ludicrous English and coupled with Terms & Conditions for some other Financial Time & Space Continuum.

So, there’s been a little fun while I yearn for real people desiring to partake of Il Poggiolo in the Lunigiana’s Delights & Pleasures in an eclectic ambiance to knock on My Cybernetic Door. Any takers amongst you? Gads.