Yes, 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, Signore… non 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.
The 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!