First Guests of the season…

Wouldn’t you know? As the date neared for the arrival of My First Guests of the Vacation Season… a young South Korean couple traveling through Italy on their honeymoon… the weather took a mighty grim turn for the worse… IMG_4447SNOW!!!

I suppose I ought to be content it only did so about 200+ meters above Our Fair Village and not right on us. Instead, we got four days of cold, wind, a snowy air and about 3/100ths of an inch of half-ass precip. I wanted more 02 after seeding the grass but, t’was not to be. Just the cold, the wind, etc. The Cold was My Big Worry. I only have a fireplace to heat L’Appartamento Azzurro. No prob to scaldare the open-space but, the Master Bedroom receives less of that scaldare.

Already anxious, the couple’s arrival was made more so by the huge lack of back-‘n-forth emails experienced with the Aussies, The Brits and the Yanks from last year. Zilch with the South Koreans. A language problem? Perhaps. It dawned on me later that I could’ve Google Translated the English text of an email into South Korean and hit SEND!!! But, the groom did confirm reading the one email with the kind request to call when in Aulla to alert me of their imminent arrival in Codiponte 30 to 40 minutes later. It was a dark & cold night when the groom bounded out of his mega-grand Peugeot monovolume to hug me Hello! I was caught by surprise. A nifty tactic to disarm me of My Worries & Concerns. Greetings to the stylish new bride and up to the L’Appartamento Azzurro we lug their suitcases, I gladly showed-off the house… a fire ablaze in the fireplace… and gave instructions to a nearby restaurant and that was it.

The apartment became their happy camp-ground. It’s always a threatening experience to see what is, actually, My Bedroom, decorated with clothes exploded from an over-packed suitcase, towels draped from open doors and the furniture re-arranged. The couple would leave about 10AM for parts unknown… I had given a list of places to visit nearby, such as, Lucca, Lerici and the like… while late in the afternoon, I would re-start the fire so that when they did return, L’Appartamento Azzurro would toasty warm. They seemed delighted with it all. Even the outlet mall outside Florence they had heard about back in Seoul. In fact, the couple gave me a lovely gift of a fancy sort of Nutella in an adorable glass jar… one to save absolutely for You… thanking me for the best place they stayed in on this trip to Italy. Well, come back… and soon too!!!

They’re gone now. I am waiting for the Cleaning Lady to hit after 2PM for the next onslaught… a Canadian family from Edmonton, Alberta Canada. Let’s hope they can stand the chill too. At least there is some sun. Gads.

Spring Cleaning…

Not an veritable explosion of flowers in the Garden al Poggiolo but, there are a good many varieties… from the ???… yellow flowers in the Fish Pond to the camellias on the Courtyard.  I hardly have had time to notice…

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I don’t remember Spring Cleaning being so arduous in years past. This year it has been my Mt. Cavalry. Given the Green Light for bell tempo by the RAI Weather Capitano, I descended with The Dogs to Codiponte and spent a solid week + one day… for me this means a morning AND afternoon bout of physical employment… and, in that time, I cleaned the three cantine, the Esseccatoio… and the oven too!!!… the Stanza dei Tini and its bathroom and the Courtyard. In between, I cut the grass and bush-whacked what the lawn-mower could not reach. Our Little Man & Wife came to severely prune all Our Fruit & Olive Trees and a couple of recalcitrant willows. Their attack left me with four solid days of gathering, cutting & stacking what was felled to be burnt next Winter. Then… PUFF!!!… The Dogs & My Aching Hip & Back returned to Genoa.

Now, The Dogs & I are back again al Poggiolo and, ably accompanied by Our Dynamic Cleaning Woman… The Dogs sun-bathed out on the Courtyard… La Casa Grande & You’s Terra-cotta Kingdom are Spic ‘n Span. Monday, the Dynamica Una will tackle the Appartamento Azzurro to render it spotless too.

While Order & Cleanliness are restored inside, I have assessed the rain-damage & chill- killed bushes and have attempted to make amends by planting 20 new plants. And, I ain’t done yet. There is still to seed the grass, rebuild the ramp and weed till I drop!!!

What is all this fury about beyond eradicating the traces of Our Winter’s Absence? Well… on Tuesday, a South Korean couple arrive to spend four days staying in the entire house. Eee, gads!!! They leave on Friday morning and in the afternoon a family from Edmonton, Alberta Canada drive in. Less Eee, gads ’cause they answered my emails. We are nearly best friends. Once I have survived the week, I will gather Dogs & Myself, return to Genoa and hop aboard Lufthansa for North Carolina to see My Dear & Aged Mom. Gads.

What I know about pruning…

…could be contained in the phrase… Let an experienced professional do all of it!

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Baring certificates of ability, so adored in Italy and its brethren EU countries… we are still worrying about how, when and if the Ukraine falls in this Pan-European Order… the most experienced person I know to prune is Our Little Man, Domenico. Yes, he may be short in physical stature but, he is big, Big, BIG in knowledge, understanding & experience with pruning. It don’t matter what either. Just so long as it’s big enough to be pruned. The great fallout for me, as a Pruning Ignoramus is, he ain’t shy to impart Any & All About the Above. EVVIVA!!! So, let me pass on to you all what I have managed to retain from My Five Hours of Hard Pruning Labor spent with Our Little Man, last Monday, in a gale too…

First, there’s a Time to prune and there’s a Time not to prune. Naturally, the moment to take saw to limb is considerably less… in fact, it’s much, much, much less than not to. You’d think that would make it easy. It doesn’t. Apparently, My Emotional Need To Whack To Make Tidy Mother Nature found within Our 22,000 square feet of Garden is obscenely off-kilter to the Dictates & Rhythms of Pruning. I was told the Time to prune is when there is an ever so slight… maybe miniscule or, itzy-bitzy… hint of Spring in the air but… But… BUT not when it is too cold, too damp, too hot, just too too. Got that?

Secondly, you prune any branch, no matter big or small, that is vertical, growing towards the center of the tree or, bends down to the ground even without the burden of its fruit. The field seems wide open. What is desired are three… 3 main & thick branches forking out & up from the center of the tree and towards ol’ Mr. Sun and… THIS IS CRITICAL… with nothing in the middle. You want the hole… or whole… to form a kind of donut. All the more for the fruit to find ol’ Mr. Sun.

And, all that is pruned can be… should be… MUST BE!!!… gathered & assembled to be burned come next Winter. And that, Dear Friends & Family is where 95% of the intensive labor of pruning is. Have pills, drugs, tons of alcohol… maybe some cheese & crackers & Amici Potato-chips too… and at the ready when you drag your tired ol’ back & hip home.

That’s it. Gads? Absolutely!!!

 

Spring massacre…

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Part & Parcel with the general Spring Cleaning just posted comes the Spring Pruning. I would like to say that the massacre was waged by an amazing 79 year old man wielding a motosega… or, buzz-saw in Italian parlance. I now have 3 to 4 days of cutting & bundling the branches into storable proportions and putting them in relatively dry place throughout Il Poggiolo. More than just gads. Gads-work!!!

Spring cleaned…

Under-passage cleaned…     Donkey Cellar cleaned…      Where the cows ate cleaned…
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Stanzi dei Tini cleaned…       Scabuzzino dei oli cleaned…  Esseccatoio cleaned…

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and the courtyard cleaned too!!! Mostly thanks to a Black & Decker leaf-blower and a Dyson vacuum-cleaner of phenomenal power & ability. Elbow grease was extra. Gads.

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They all say sun…

IMG_0529Not one and no, not three, but yes, five weather websites all say sun for the next several days starting tomorrow, Wednesday, the 5th day of the darn ol’ month of March. Leaves me nothing to do but throw the 2 crazed Weimaraners and a few other portable essentials like vitamins & health elixirs into a car… to be decided whether I steel You’s beat up AUDI or attempt to cram all in sundry into My FIAT Barchetta. Nina-dog will just HATE her place in the foot well. Apparently, she takes issue with traveling backwards. Thank Goodness, she does not get car-sick!!!… and head south to Codiponte & Il Poggiolo. Objective? Put to rights The Garden in the time allotted… by God or Weatherman. Wish me Luck? Gads.

They say sun…

IMG_0529Not one and no, not three but, yes, five weather websites all say sun for the next several days starting tomorrow, Wednesday, the 5th day of the darn ol’ month of March. Leaves me nothing to do but throw the 2 crazed Weimaraners and a few other portable essentials like vitamins & health elixirs into a car… to be decided whether I steel You’s beat up AUDI or attempt to cram all & sundry into My FIAT Barchetta. Nina-dog will just HATE her place in the foot well. Apparently, she takes issue with traveling backwards. Thank Goodness, she does not get car-sick!!!… and head south to Codiponte & Il Poggiolo. Objective? Put to rights The Garden in the time allotted… by God or Weatherman. Wish me Luck? Gads.