Heat purification…

This won’t be polite…

20150630_115920_resizedIt’s so hot here. What makes it unbearable is the humidity. I feel like I am being steamed to perfection to become an Italian antipasto. All I would need is a bit of olive oil. Perhaps balsamic vinegar too. This is not an appropriate Fate for someone hailing from the dry-climate State of Colorado, far, far away from heat-wave inflicted Italy.

Astounding the number of costume changes in the span of My Sixteen Hour Days. T-shirts stained beyond recognition. The art of Helen Frankenthaller has nothing on me and my sweat. Yes, I sweat. Sweat a storm. Big storm. I sweat just sitting on the Loggia sipping ice-filled glasses of white wine with grapefruit juice. Drips pour to the floor while I try to fathom the Greek/EU Situation off the lap-top. I know how I would VOTE on this coming Sunday’s referendum. Does anyone? I say… Ο Θεός να σώσει τον Ελληνικό Λαό.

But, back to sweating… it becomes dire if I move. Doing stuff kicks my pores into Sweat Over-drive. Recent In-the-100+-Degree-Heat Tasks have been: rebuilding the cane thatching over the Fish Pond so no more little fishies-wishies won’t be found floating belly-up as in days past. Burials are in the hydrangea border below… watering the same so they too won’t be seen going belly-up by passing neighbors, which is quite a trick for a flowering plant… spraying verde rame on all the roses, as per You’s Commands via his incessant telephone text-messages. He’s a doctor, saving people’s eyes-sight through surgery. How does he have time to punch the keys on a cellphone all the time, hmmm? Mystery of Modern Medicine? It will remain so… and doing about 20 loads of laundry after an excruciatingly short stay of ONLY 2 nights by an American family from Michigan… they drove from Detroit to Toronto to save on the airfares!!!!!!!… and, simultaneously, a couple of adored young-cousins in from Minnesota on their honeymoon. Happy to see the changing-residence-every-two-days Americans head for one of the most preposterous tourist locals in all of Italy… Le Cinque Terre. It warrants a separate post. Very sad to see My Cuzs fly off on DELTA from Pisa’s Galileo Galilei International Airport to JFK & MSP and Home.

What all this means is the sweat I produce in abundance stays on my skin. I have a mighty heat-rash. Add that to the manifestations of constant sun poisoning… more red bumps… and heat-prostration and you got someone to look at… Me!!!… who resembles a poster-child for some horrific and unidentified sub-tropical jungle disease!!! I am miles away from those icky places. Lord, help me.

What could the remedy be? Zolfo. Sapone di zolfo. Sulphur soap. Soap made from sulphur sounds better. I purposely drove a half-hour this morning to buy a gigantic never-run-out quantity of sapone di zolfo. I came home and took a cleansing shower with said soap. However, it is not encouraging to read on the label that the product is for oily and impure skin. HELL!!! What’s fatty and impure about me? I’m an Anglo-Saxon whose skin was never designed to withstand prettily the combo of high temps and mugginess!!! Gads.

Back to slinging cement…

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20150613_093537_resizedYes, it’s true… we are repairing La Casetta from its Earthquake of 2013 damage. I don’t quite believe it. What possessed us? I had become an expert in ignoring the tell-tale effects ever since that 5.2 on the Richter Scale had hit… zig-zagging gaps in a wall’s colourfully painted covering of stucco, tiny cracks dancing and skipping about senselessly up & down walls, and probably, laughing at me too, and odd revelations of white glaring out from Our Blue-Blue in La Casa Grande. Unfortunately, I know the answer to my quiry… You commanded it and so, I had to organise it. Our Usual Routine and with very little discussion too.

We came up with XXL Stone Mason Man to do the repair job. A gentle giant. He has to be one of the most polite, well-spoken and patient of Human Beings on the face of the Earth. XXL came highly recommended by Our Milanese & Dutch Friends up at La Concia. He had laboured away for the past two years on their charming hill-side dimora. And, I discovered he is well recognised and valued by practically everyone else around Our Parts of the Lunigiana interested in paying solid Euros for sheninganless work. One too many times an Italian stone mason has grumpily furnished us with an estimate… something the fellows just cannot get around… only to show up during construction with… Ooops! Sorry, Signorenon ho calcolato bene, etc. Or, we discovered post-work that a local mason had skimped on the cement… to improve earnings?… leaving us with falling stones upon the heads of our fish in the pond! You and I listened to these recommendations, deliberated and decided upon XXL and to put him to work in La Casetta!

It is a new whole world of working.

From the first day of Monday last, I realized we had ingeniously embarked upon a quasi do-it-yourself-er. Something akin to flying on Ryanair. With that airline… not sure Ryanair qualifies as an airline…. you buy your ticket piecemeal, print the reams of paperwork on your own device, show up at the airport to rip your cartaccio so everyone at Ryanair gets a strip of paper and the only thing you do not have to do is shove the B-737 down the runway for take-off! Same procedure with XXL and La Casetta.

I should not complain. I have no good reason to. It’s my nature. XXL shows up punctually at 8:30… unlike the non-so-che-cosa orario of the locally born & bred masons, who must smoke a cig, play video-poker, etc. before arriving to work… he tells me what he needs in the way of building materials to accomplish The Work… I should halt here to say…

I am not keen on this part. I feel to be out of my normal sector. Cemento and arenina are not on my CV. I can deal with selecting the proper potting soil for azaleas, purchase non-lethal mechanical equipment, i.e. like scissors, judge one type of glue from another to affix Giulio Cesare’s wife to a column, head to the gas-station to fill-up with benzolio for my weed-whacker. There, those are my kinds of items to do!

My discomfort rests with the casual language of building supplies. XXL asks for sabbia fine. OK. Fine sand. Did you know there are several different types? Can you believe that? Cement ain’t just cement either. The gamut runs from heavy-duty to pronto-baby. To avoid unforeseen errors later or, return trips to the building supplier to exchange something, I have to Spanish Inquisition the poor XXL for brand name, manufacturer’s material label and type. All XXL can tell me is… it’s in a yellow & green package. Apparently, that’s a concept the building material manufacturers understand because, low & behold, the desired material WAS in a yellow & green package. I bought several with the obscene name of Osmocen. It retards humidity from passing through stucco. No wonder colours are the best description!

…so, I get in my FIAT Barcchetta… il mio furgoncino with the top down… tootle to Gragnola to pay a visit to the local building supply store, where I spend most of my money anyway, spout-out the list of materials wanted to one of several superbly service-oriented staff, load-up on several 30-40 kilo bags of cement/calce/Osmocen then, return to Codiponte, drive across the narrow yet Medieval bridge, dump the cargo on the stairs up to Il Poggiolo and, finally, carefully inch my way through the narrow passageway of a street to the village’s piazza car park, probably stealing someone’s space they’ve held for years and well before I ever showed my face in town. Backing up across the Medieval ponte is OUT OF THE QUESTION!!! These viaggi are repeated every morning.

20150617_180119_resizedThe practicalities of a do-it-yourself-er aside, there is the added stress that next week I have an American family coming to stay… FOR TWO MEASLY NIGHTS ONLY!!!… in La Casa Padronale and too a pair of Minnesota Cousins arrive on their belated honeymoon to Europe/Italy/Il Poggiolo!!! I goofed the calendar. The Cousins will have to bunk one night in the camera dal letto of La Casetta since the Appartamento Azzurro is otherwise occupied with a family of 6 from Michigan. As I write, the Casetta BR is full of debris and wet stucco. XXL found the stucco in the BR to be sorely in need of being hammered off the stone wall and replaced anew. A consequence of an ill-considered judgement to save money with the initial construction adventure lo’ those six years ago. Fine. Somehow, I, they, them and XXL will survive. But gads!


Around the Codiponte neighbourhood…

Early morning w-a-l-k with The Dogs on a dimly lit Saturday before the Nice Big Man comes to pick ‘n fix the earthquake damage from 2013 in La Casetta. I am thoroughly amazed with myself that I could get up, be dressed and out the door BEFORE 7AM!!!  20150613_093537_resized

By the way… we are coming upon Our Two-year Earthquake Anniversary next Sunday, June 21st at 12:33PM. I may go out to lunch with My English Friends at the Spino Fiorito to mark the occasion. Pro-secco for starters.

Now, onto happier topics…

thought it might be an appropriate time for a photographic What’s-going-on in Codiponte. Keeps me from complaining about the weather which is hot and unpleasantly muggy…

From the left to right for each horizontal group of three photos in descending ordergrape vines trimmed DOESN’T ANYONE PICK UP AFTER THEMSELVES?hedges clipped at the standard height of 2 meters and THIS SANCTIONED BY LOCAL LAW!!!… prim-roses at La Colombiera A FALLING DOWN WRECK WITH AN ASKING PRICE OF EURO 500,000!!!… unidentified flowers in the garden of the lady whose TWO DOGS BARK AT MINE!!!… jasmine in outrageous bloom… a new roof over the only other oven in the town, IL POGGIOLO HAS THE OTHER AND IT WORKS!!!… wood splint-sided shack and weed-infested land off the town’s piazza FOR SALE WITH AN ASKING PRICE OF EURO 80,000!!! What is it with these folk? They think they have Versailles to sell?… garden gate to an orto + its bamboo architecture for climbing tomatoes… my most favourite flower in the entire world NAME UNKOWN… impromptu garden table THE HEIGHT OF MODERN DESIGN!!!… white hydrangeas… the remnant of the 13th Century bridge of Codiponte, now a terrace with an adjoining 20TH CENTURY BATHROOM SLUNG NEXT DOOR… and…

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Our Little Man has been diligently tending to his Bean Patch since the half-efforts of his June 2nd Holiday Hiatus. Can’t miss an episode of this, can we? Gads.

Bean Patch forsook…

20150601_083342_resized_1Though Our Little Man was caught working last weekend, he hardly worked. How could he? It was Italy’s Fourth of July holiday last Tuesday. A long and much appreciated 5-day holiday weekend. Hot & humid too. You came to down to eat and drink with the rest of us. Mostly, he ate and I drank. Lord! For every meal we were either invited out or we ate in with Our Out-of-town Guests. One of the locals complimented me on my expansion. But, enough of white wine and pasta and affettati and torte and carne and ravioli galore! Our Little Man had to forsake his beans to do the same with his F & F’s.