Olives besieged…

IMG_5642A friend gave me this little, tiny olive tree. It’s on the ledge outside the window at the sink in La Casa Grande. It gets sun for most of the day. Well, until we go on Standard Time and as the days shorten to zilch.

Washing dishes the day I got back to Codiponte from our USA TOUR 2015, I noticed there was this black thing nestled in the silvery-green leaves of the little, tiny olive tree. AN OLIVE!!! Hot-IMG_5658diggity-dog. You will beyond ecstatic!!! I’ve got to send him a photo. I was just plain dumb-founded. Dogs were super emozionated but they thought all my commotion meant there would a piece of b-r-e-a-d in their immediate futures. I went on with My Daily Tasks and gave no more thought to olives or trees, even the three at the Scenic Overlook of il Poggiolo’s Garden.

Then, this past weekend, I noticed another black orb dangling close to the one from The First Sighting. Rapt inspection produced the same effect as the other day. Dogs came almost immediately to hound me for a whole-wheat t-r-e-a-t. At this point, I marched out to the Scenic Overlook and discovered that of the three olive trees gracing said terrace, one showed fruit. How weird, but thank you. T’was the one next to the descending wall of the ramp and modestly full of these savoury fruits. You will be in olive-stratosphere!!! And, he’ll bother me too until we’ve harvested and put to salts these tasty morsels.

Italian House - Olive fruit flyEvery afternoon the Dogs & I walk to the local Codiponte olive press, a frantoio or, to many, simply called il Mulino, to kibbitz with the proprietress while the dogs are subjected to the verbal assaults of one of the nastiest Shih-tzu’s to afflict the Face of the Earth. Her phone rang. Someone asked when the Mulino would start up for the Olive Crushing Season. She said it would be later this year. Not many olives about. The other end agreed and then confessed he was besieged by olive fruit-flies. Oh, mio dio!!! said the mill’s owner. The fellow hung up. I thought what had devastated last year’s olive-crop was a fungus. Turns out that is only a general term the Italians use for anything bad to hit their agriculture, like the Scuzzy Bar Lady saying it was Germans who had walked off with my abandoned vintage scarf left in her dirty establishment yet, meaning anyone who does not speak Italian. No, the proprietress said, It’s flies and They’re wrecking havoc in the olive groves of Codiponte again this year. I feel lucky that we have the olives we’ve got. Gads.

A watery wonder…

IMG_5322The fish must need more O2. They come up to the surface of their pond and sip air and not at Cocktail Time either. Then they retreat to the comfort of their pond plants. Concerned, I cruised amazon.it for a photo-voltaic bubbler thing, a fountain, something to agetate the water a bit in the fish’s pond. Stir up the ol’ O2. Found one that floats. Hot-diggity-dog! And for ONLY Euro 30. I had to brake and hard though. The obstruction was the 1st review of 33. I am amazed at how many folk take the time to write a review and for amazon.it too. A world of self-service is the progenitor now of one conditioned to leave reviews? To where will it lead? The 5-line blurb said the (presumed) Chinese manufactured piece of floating spray equipment was… well, in my less than polite language… a piece of shit. A rough translation of the Italian. Don’t buy it! added at the end was an unequivocally more direct message of WARNING!!!  The next review glowed with a Good Report. What’s The Real Truth here? Only alternation and vulgar hyperbole? Yep. The next reiterated the opinion of the first review in a tone much akin to the relief someone might feel right after having struggled and then launched a mechanical… or cybernetic… annoyance out the window and at a passing car. Ouch. I became undecided. Then, far, far, away, a little voice said to me… It’s ONLY Euro 30. Take a chance. Go for it. So I did. Hit Acquista ora and 2-days later a box was laid at my door-step. Assembled in a jiffy, it works. Tinkling water. Yeah!!! Not like Versailles but, it works. We are happy. Gosh. Its spray may keep mosquitoes away too. Even more happiness. Gads.

Our summer’s weather…

Not that I am a farmer, far from it, but I do watch & worry about the weather. My favourite grandmother, who WAS one and responsible for acres and acres and acres of agricultural land in the fine State of South Carolina, began each letter to me with a description of the most recent weather. Then, she’d change subjects by encouraging me to get better grades in school. She was an elementary school teacher back in nought-seven. Her messages always concluded with… C-‘s are not acceptable. You CAN do better. Your father was a good student and never got a C- in his life. Oh, well… Can we please go back to talking about the weather?

IMG_4447This past weekend’s weather forecast was not a good one for the arrival of You, a favoured niece and her new boy-friend. These last two were instantly indentured to working in the kitchen to prepare meals. They seemed happy to do so. You proceeded with a new Garden Inspection. Those spiffily dressed Capitani del Meteo at RAI-TV had predicted a 70% chance of rain showers for Friday night and all day Saturday. OK, we’ll move furniture around. What we got instead was last summer’s cap of heavy, sodden clouds, muggy temps and NO RAIN!!! Yet, had we hopped over the hill to Monzone and Gragnola, we would’ve discovered that they and their sister villages all got a soaking. Those same meteorological geniuses had also predicted a splendidly sunny Sunday. At least that. But no. The sun did not splendere until we had exited the autostrada back in Genoa on our return to urban civilisation. It was cold too.

I’m a pessimist and I fear the worst for Our Summer 2015. I think the weather wants to tug back to last year’s boring bouts of short-spells of s-u-n and HOT, HOT, HOT weather and LONG, LONG, LONG stretches of cloudy, muggy days with NO RAIN!!! The wonderful lady in Codiponte, who helps me in il Poggiolo’s garden… she specialises in roses while her husband prunes the fruit & olive trees… complained to me of fungus, as we tied new bamboo to the rose pergola on the ramp beside the Esseccatoio. Her complaining included comments on last year’s grape & olive vendemmie. They were non-existent, thanks to the fungus invasion brought on by pollution mixed with humidity and not enough s-u-n. Her summation was to point to a nearby hedge of pitosfero… a waxy leaf plant with a small creamy white flower packing a power-scent of honeysuckle… to demonstrate the fresh tell-tale signs of fungus. Yep. Yellowed leaves with tiny brown spots. Fungus. I HATE it. Means I’ll have to spray and soon. Gads.

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.

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.

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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Beans are a goner…

Beans have been harvested and sent to market in Aulla. The vines have been left to tumble to the ground to mulch and rot. The weeds have since taken over the plot of land. Stakes have been pulled and stacked away until next year. So, that’s it, Folks! IMG_4944



If you live on a farm or in an agricultural region, such as I do living in Codiponte, you know there is always something to do… around the farm. No sooner have the Codipontesi harvested the last of their beans, tomatoes & zucchini than the season says… It’s time to go pick-up walnuts! IMG_4864What? they say. No way. Let the birds eat them. We’ve got the vendemia to do. Yes, there are grappoli e grappoli of grapes… You jabbed me in the stomach the other day as he studied those hanging over the entrance steps to Our English Friends house. See, we could have those too, implying a lack of initiative on My Part. Va’ be’. Il Poggiolo has two vines sprouting out of the tall retaining wall of the aia… or, courtyard. One is red and the other is white and the grapes are pathetic. Not worth the trouble. This year though, I suspect, and this is confirmed by the Codipontesi themselves, the grapes this year might already be sour, or worse. The weather here this summer has been too wet, or when not wet, too muggy, predicting a lousy vendemia. Might be best to grab those walnuts!



There are walnut trees scattered about. A big one is along My AM W-a-l-k With The Dogs. The walnuts have a soft gift-wrapping-gone-bad casing. Take that off and you have a classic walnut nut. Inside that is the meat. You swears by them. He eats them at night after dinner while watching some over-charged show on Italian TV. You says… 6 walnuts a day keeps the Alzheimer’s away. Hmmmm. Gads.

A reminder, go to Your Italian Concierge for travel & events in Italia!


Pulling up stakes…

IMG_4696Harvest time for the ol’ beans down at Tonino’s Bean Patch. Pretty shocking. With the beans plucked & sacked for market and the bamboo stakes pulled up & stacked for next year’s crop, the vines just wither down to the ground… esauriti. Kind of like the Wicked Witch Of The West’s demise in The Wizard Of Oz. Yet, from the other end of the patch…


other beans have still to ripen on the vine!