The Inspection…

IMG_5186The skies were blue. The temperatures mild. A light breeze was out of the West auguring well for bell tempo during our pre-Pasqua weekend at Il Poggiolo and You’s dreaded yet, inevitable Spring Garden Inspection Tour: 2015. What fun.

We arrived last Friday at about Noon. The Dogs were beyond crazed to get out of the AUDI to refresh their Weimaraner memories of the odours of Codiponte. We Human Beings discussed the notion of eating and to move things quickly along for a meal prepared by someone other than myself, I offered to take You out for pranzo. If you wish, said he, Whatever you want. And I said, So, let’s go! The Dogs were bribed with bread and sent to their respective poltrone inside L’Appartamento Azzurro. A nice fire had been laid to keep them especially toasty-warm while the mid-day sun poured in through the double-doors of the apartment. But You?

He had gone off by himself and without a word. Oh! It’s begun. The Inspection. Nothing more to do with the last minutes left for me to live and drink white wine upon this Earth than go sit in the FIAT and wait… stomach growling terribly. 43 minutes later You appeared. He opened the passenger door, got in, shut the door and from that moment on and for the next 4.7 hours all I got was His Silence. Cannot tell you how much fun our pranzo was. Under different circumstances You’s non-ti-parlo stance might have been tolerable, enjoyable even but, having shared real-estate… and other things too… with the fellow for the past seventeen years, I knew what was going to happen. And it did. Punctually, at the Cocktail Hour… and he don’t drink!… You caused the air-waves to vibrate with his negative comments on every single little thing I had laboured to do… busted butt would be the American expression… to bring Il Poggiolo’s Garden back up to snuff after its Winter’s repose. How foolish to hope that not all of my efforts would be to his displeasure, such as, seeing reason in cutting back the hydrangeas to avoid droopy bows, trimming the mulberry trees and their grass killing shade or, saving the peach tree from snapping its gangly branches at the height of the fruit bearing month of July. He HATED it all!!! You even commented on what I had not done, i.e. pruning the persimmon of its severely vertical profusion of last year’s cut and new growth. Then, he stopped.

20150330_094840_resizedHe had found a counter-outlet. While I weed-whacked the grassy path up and around Il Poggiolo Sunday AM, You took shears and decimated the former Chicken Corner along the ramp from the aia to the Appt. Azzurro. He professes to all who will listen that this corner was to be His Corner. Yes, certainly, of course it will be, darling. You asked for oleanders and he got oleanders. He asked for sage and he got sage. He asked for rose bushes and he got three of them. He wanted a cica palm and he now has a cica palm. He also got a cypress he did not want, a weird green & gold bush which hides the ugly cement retaining wall and my favourite flowering bush from The South, althea in variegated florals of white, red & lille. We may be even now. Yet, due to those undesired for additions, You has never taken kindly to His Corner. Thus, he got back at my exploits by employing his shear-arts and is now, I am relieved to say, a happy Il Poggiolo Camper. Everything got a crew-cut.

Inspection for 2015 is now, thankfully, History. We all… Dogs included… can get on with our lives. Buona Pasqua a tutti!!! Gads.

Dusting stuff…

OK… the outside of Il Poggiolo, i.e. The Garden, has been set to rights. My rights, not You’s. Last night, You & I, guests at an intimate dinner party of 4… it’s always good to have A) Protection and B) Witnesses, and luckily, there were many, including a princely staff to serve us a delicious experimental dinner of a rice pasta, a steamed tuna & vegetable loaf… there has to be a better Italian term than the American loaf... and a warm apricot tort… I spurred the lagging table conversation by casually informing Dear You-know-who and the Other Guests of what awaits his annual Spring Garden Inspection planned for next weekend. I did not give details. I only alluded to surgery. Brave of me, I know. You’s contribution to this conversation was his listing… to the rapt edification of the Other Guests… those outrages he suspected have been gainfully committed. Clever boy. Like nails neatly driven home, he hit nearly all of them. So much for allusion and a happy future.

Allowed to live another day with a glass of white wine in hand… thank you very much… My Spring Let’s Totally Spiff-up Il Poggiolo can re-locate inside or, Dust the Stuff, most of it You’s. His Interior Design scheme is, apparently, to never cease offering A Good Home to all the World’s abandoned or lost Stuff. Well, at least those items found wanting in the numerous flea-market haunts of You’s scattered down the entire length of the Italian peninsula. Every item is in store for a good, solid dusting.

Here is a photo medley of some key dusting/cleaning/spiffing spots in just one room of il Poggiolo’s 5,000+ square feet of farm-house… il Salotto della Casa Grande

DustGiulio Cesare stunned in his alcove and after 3 months will soon be found with a collection of dead flies, cobwebs and assorted UFO’s and TO BE DUSTED!!!

Dust 2the other alcove with dead everything but, again, mostly flies and and TO BE DUSTED…


Dust 4

the intricate lattice work of the intricate wood lattice-work of the beds-cum-sofas requiring a thorough cleaning with a magic liquid from a bunch of preti cattolici You says he has an in with yet, will not divulge any names or address and TO BE DUSTED…

the wobble shelving unit for his books, my artwork and a festive display of American flags You & I still cannot name the depositors and TO BE DUSTED…

 Dust 3

Dust 6and the ONLY window facing West and surely is rife with all which could bring on an massive attack of asthma and TO BE DUSTED.

A pair of Size M orange rubber-gloves, a yellow plastic pail full of cleaning products… sprays of every sort… and a butcher’s gift of a cotton bag near to explosion with rags of old T-shirts & Calvin’s briefs will be my daily companions, plus the Two Local Women of Codiponte, in for the detailed work while I tackle the big of the three-day Cleaning Cavalcade…. top to bottom of Il Poggiolo. Then, You hits with his Audi loaded to the roof with… yes, more stuff to dust. By 3 PM Euro-time on Friday, the Inspector will have inspected all. Wish me luck? Gads.

The new Moon…

Italian House - New Moon 2When you live in an Italian village where the main occupation of the locals is to farm their vegetable gardens, curate their olive groves and vineyards, the Moon and its many phases are of prime importance. Pruning, burying, picking, fertilising!!! are all done at the proper waning or waxing moment of Our Moon. Fine.

Every morning, I tear myself from the bed, go and pet the 2 W-dogs, start a much needed caffe’, stoke the fire and turn on the radio to listen to Branco, a simpaticisimo 75+ year old astrologer on Radio DJ. Busy man too. He appears on morning TV, writes magazine astrologies and books, even gives talks to school kids!!! What does the Catholic Church think? Competition for the obligatory Lessons in Religion the little ones must submit to alla scuola? He gets his radio message in early too. 7:20 AM. Well, it’s sure early for me.

Branco is always on the brighter side of things which, is encouraging since, his daily blurbs for Virgo’s has been centred on this new and irritating Moon. It sure is!!! I can’t decide… for me, it’s something between banging my head against a wall or swimming up stream against a mighty current… computer on the fritz, emails do not depart or arrive, click-click-click and nothing happens to get off the bad news page of terrorist attacks, invited to dinner but had it down for another night, car door on the driver’s side won’t open, Nina has been digging a hole to China in one angle of the garden, cannot figure out what to do with Twitter beyond tweeting, keep forgetting my wallet when attempting to stock the mini-frig in L’Appartamento Azzurro at the Carrefour and other annoying manifestations of frustration and angst. That’s the Personal Front.

Regarding My Garden Attack, the Good News is I have been in perfect swing with this new Moon. A superb moment to prune, cut and burn. At least that. Onward I will go with it all until You’s arrival tomorrow for his Annual Spring Inspection. We are nervous. Dogs are typically oblivious. You may not appreciate that his two adored mulberry trees now look like Noguchi sculptures. However, if this new Moon would ONLY co-operate, he may ignore that outrage and focus on the bush-whacked hydrangeas instead. And, on that score, I have The Moral Support of practically everyone in Codiponte. Gads.

P.S. Are we ready for today’s eclipse? It’s going to be mildly dark here. Fine. I wonder if the 2 W-dogs will notice. Nina, not. She’ll be digging, again.

What I see on my walks…

Continuing my fascination with Italian Shack Architecture as seen on my morning and afternoon walks with the Dogs in Codiponte, and by the way, the collaboration works quite well… they sniff & pee & lick disgusting things to their Weimaraner heart’s content and I am left in Peace to take my silly photographs… a STOP sign, a light pylon, an announcement board and draped plastic on last year’s Sagra Bar and…

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…this last photo could be the start to a whole new category… Codiponte Door-drapes. Eeets very, very Eeetalian!

Gads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colours, textures of Codiponte…

Continuation of the Italian Shack Architecture post of late… lessons in a Lunigiana colour sense which, and this will not surprise, I find very elegant, modern, cool even…

green paint faded by constant rain and sun and with a healthy growth of moss… IMG_20150317_092655

raw siena slapped on metal siding…
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concrete on the New Bridge. Gads? Perhaps.

Local architecture…

Every morning of every day of the week of every month I reside in Codiponte, The Dogs and I take a turn through village. They dictate the route and it rarely varies… down the multi-ramps of Il Poggiolo and across the Medieval Bridge… Thank God, they do not pee on the Ave Maria built to commemorate the flood of “66. No. They hold it until they get to the triangle of grass under the grotesque fig tree… down the asphalted ramp to the tune of the nasty hunting dogs’ barking. Poor things, their living conditions are less than rustic… along the little lane strung of modern houses built on a flood plain, chicken coops too and past abandoned vegetable gardens, the owners long ago deceased, ownership since forgotten… and back up the Casciana road and across the New Bridge to the twisty lane to the piazzetta, the epicentre of Codiponte… and then back home.

While those two Weimaraners assaporare the many pungent odours on our tour, I am forced to entertain myself with contrary pursuits. If not to admire tree moss, punch keys on a smart-phone for an AM text-message to You or, glance at passing aircraft winging their way at 38,000 feet towards Paris or London, I can appraise the local architecture.

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Shack Architecture is the most beautiful of architectures and the Italian variety has its own distinct non sa qua beauty. Ad hoc is an art, you know, and especially when one has few centesime to spend. Amazing what a few terracotta or cement bricks and mortar can muster up and in a jiffy too.

This love for the make-shift comes from summers spent with an adored grandmother in South Carolina. Sped about in a barrelling 1957 black & silver Chrevrolet Impala with Mimi at the wheel to collect rents from tenants on her farms… You tells any and all Italians about that I am the progeny of slave owners… or just to kick up some dust on a hot & humid afternoon, I was charmed by the blur of unpainted and dilapidated clapboard houses in sandy soiled pine groves, cinder-block gas-stations cum convenience stores anchored at a crossroad of state roads and where a frosty Orange Crush soda usually awaited me and my dime in chilled silence in the cooler just inside the screen door entrance and stops at a vegetable stand lean-too of weathered wood, catty-whom-pus shingles and strings of naked lights for a couple of pounds of fresh red tomatoes. It was Love. And too for tomatoes sliced, salted & peppered and crowned with a hefty glob of mayo on top and served with a piece of cornbread buttered ’till it could barely stand it.

Codiponte’s shacks served mostly for agricultural purposes… to store gardening equipment or as works-stations for olive groves and vineyards. Those tasks have been cancelled out. The faded and chipped stucco, broken window panes and rained stained wood are all which remains of those tasks. But isn’t the haphazardness lovely? And one shack is FOR SALE. Gads.

Spring-like assaults…

Assaulting the garden, so to speak, is an annual event here at Il Poggiolo. Something to do with promoting new growth for the later seasons of the year… the two S’s of Spring & Summer. Traditionally, during the cold and dark months of Winter, You and I haggle over what and what not to do. Mostly, You dictates… DO NOT CUT THE HYDRANGEAS!!! for instance and I make note. He has pulled the Over My Dead Body once. I’m not courageous enough to risk a repeat by contesting any of his stern wishes. Last year, however, You was not consulted nor informed. How could I? I wasn’t even allowed to text message him while he was ensconced in a *****hotel with a pack of myopically bored ophthalmologists yawning through an umpteenth update seminar. Risking a much shortened Life-span, I nonetheless proceeded with my own Indepentant Plan of trimming our garden’s plant life. You was mightily shocked when his feet stepped onto the turf at Il Poggiolo weeks later for his Spring Inspection to discover a pretty radical pruning spree: fruit trees clipped of errant limbs…

I have A Steadfast Law… if I get poked by a branch, OFF WITH ITS HEAD!!!… and I do not descriminate either…

the fig bush’s dimensions halved and his beloved mulberry trees shorn of their gangly limbs… and so on and so forth.

I had help too. Part of Il Poggiolo Spring Procedure is to call-in the Cute Codiponte Couple who have been ardent custodians of Il Poggiolo’s Green Belt since nearly the start of recorded history in the village. The couple’s intervention entails my soliciting their comments on site of what to and what not to do then, adjourning in relief to follow their lead with my saws & shears. They are my Ace Card too for protection from the rath of You-know-who. If I can say… Oh, but You… darling… the Cute Codiponte Couple said it was OK to reduce the fig bush to a pitiable stubble… I can drink white wine another day!!!

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The weather has been exceptionally co-operative this March 2015. Bright, breezy days of sunshine, an invigorating air to work outside with nature soon to be clipped…

hydrangeas hacked down so their cane-like stems can bear the weight of their blooms without whimping out like they did last year because You-know-who pulled rank and said NO!!! to trimming them back some… the two mulberry trees pruned to their sculptural trunks so, glossy leaves will come back in decorative clumps & clusters to insure little shade which none of the other foliage beneath them need… the fig tree next to the Fish Pond which, continues to grows it branches in a vertical quest for sunlight when, in truth, the darn thing stands in full sun from sun-up to sun-down from May to October… what’s the deal with that?… has been cut down so, if and when there is ever any fruit, ladders will not be needed. Last year, the wind and muggy weather ruined the fig crop too. Its branches were too long to withstand the gales. Nothing worse than biting into a rancid fig. Not even a dose of something else sweet can kill the violent pucker… and other cosmetics twinkings here and there. I will shortly attain NIRVANA though when I pull out the recently repaired lawn-mower to cut the tufty grass later this afternoon. All must be done by Sunday before the predicted rain & snow come. And my knee op next week. Gads.

Return of Spring…

Codiponte has been tugging at my heart this Winter. Though I try to be firm in the decision of a taking an hiatus from the ebb & flow of life in the village and al Poggiolo, I can’t quite pull it off. Part of my 2,738,899 pensieri odierni are devoted to my .00000066% of Italian territory. And now, since the 2015 calendar has flipped a page to the Month of March, I am due to head South. Monday morning, to be precise. I’m staying a week! Besides keeping the home fires burning in L’Appartamento Azzurro going 24/7… I cannot let Moses & Nina freeze can I?… I will be tackling the consuetudinary gardening tasks. First on the list will be to re-do the peonie patch in the corner of what You refers to as Our Scenic Overlook. Yeah, the icky dumpsters and late attempts to improve the local infrastruttura after the water bomb floods of last October. The lawn-mower needs to be fixed for the umpteenth time and then, I will bush-whack the garden. However, the main job will be to prune. I’ve become enough of an Italian to find tentacle-like tree branches unsightly requiring the attentions of a handy saw. What a joy. Gads.

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