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.

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.

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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Spring assaults…

There isn’t a photo to capture what I really want to say. So, onwards…

You & I made a quick House & Garden Inspection Tour last weekend in between funerals, a Sunday luncheon and a Saturday night pizza-dinner too. I felt disgusted by the disorder & dirtiness both inside & out. So, when the rains abate… we are now on a new improved Weather Rhythm of 2 days of sunshine for every 5 yucky… I will head down to Codiponte with The Dogs for a week’s worth of assaulting H & G until I am satisfied. Here’s the List Of Tasks so far compiled…

Outside… clean the under-passage of crinkled leafy UFOs, ditto for the courtyard, drag plants from their winter quarters in the Stanza dei Tini, take junk to the dumpsters, re-build the ramp’s stone borders & steps, re-seed for the nth time the same zone, burn organic materials, re-do the peony beds down at the Scenic Over-look into a more undulating & decorative border than the current rectangular postage-stamp looking plot, plant still more lavender where needed… I envision the necessity of another 50 or so plants… transplant a couple of errantly placed shrubs so You will stop his infernal complaining for the error of My Garden Ways. Those who do should be EXEMPT of blame from those who don’t!!!… he says he was un-Democratically denied his participation. And, I said… Oh, really? And who told you that we have a parliamentary form of government, caro?… plug holes in the rock walls with guess what? More rocks!!!, clean & set straight the Dining Loggia… Rambo must have a thorough dusting off… put in order the legnaia’s collection of burnable branches, ie, so they can be eventually burned, re-organize the plastic pots meticulously saved for chissa motive, prune the fig tree… un absolute must… and its many brother & sister fruit trees too, rake & seed the grass terraces, FERTILIZE EVERYTHING!!!, weed-whack the path around the garden, fix the guide wires for the willows about to fall over due to extreme rain-provoked erosion, etc…

Inside… dust, vacuum & clean every stick of furniture, bric-a-brac, artwork, rug or not, find homes for the latest over-the-top array of You’s flea-market acquisitions from hither & yon… I fail to see reason for You to ever complain when I say Yes! to what all he drags home from his junque-store forays… tackle the refrigerators by divesting them of their Euw-ick-states, cull anything dead, clean-up the Stanza di Tini of its post-earthquake tremors, ditto for the non-sequitur room next to it, re-paint patches in the houses which will not require additional work beyond that, etc…

For now, enough. Gads.

 

Temp & talk…

Probably something only for Americans… do you remember this model of a thermostat? The Glory of late-50s technology… a superb simplicity and one itzy-bitzy step above having just an ON-OFF button. Perfection incarnate. I would have gladly chosen it for La Casetta, the only spot of Il Poggiolo needing one, what with its expensive gas-sucking boiler serving its complex of radiators needing steam heat. Instead… and here, I must point The Accusing Finger of Bad-Choice-Bud at the Electrician for the cheesy item… we got a thermostat of a particularly flimsy et plastique French manufacture called Tecne’. Naturellement, the instruction booklet was uniquement en francais. Who in the World has the patience to read an instruction booklet, much less one en francais? Odds are near zero while standing in briefs & T- in a FREEZING COLD 41F degree house at 3:03 AM since, the thermostat did-not/could-not/would-not communicate the request for 60F degrees made at 9:30 PM. Let’s go for radiant heat in the fireplace. This adventure was experienced by Our Renter, the Gragnola Pharmacist. Hard for me to imagine him in briefs & T-… he seems more a PJ-person… but anyway, he called to inform us that there was un problemino with the heat in La Casetta.

Already in the neighborhood for the sad affair of Our Dear Departed Neighbor’s funeral and before suiting up for it…

and, may I say? Typical of an Italian funeral, You & I were the only men in a suit & tie, far and away from the Standard Attire of jeans & parkas & boots. Even the priest counted in with the rugged-wear. However, he had a violet & shimmering mantel to cover his lack of formal attire…

You & I met Our Renter to survey the situation. He was right…. the thing had gone crazy. I was brave enough to pull-out le livret d’instructions. And, was wise enough to put it back in its binder. We all preferred to punch thermostat keys… temps clicked up & down the scale without nessuna provocazione. MANUEL would turn into AUTOMATIQUE in a blink. Radiators rattled when they should have hummed or, at least, stayed quiet. We collectively surrendered to… the thing was DEFECTUEUX. I gulped. Through the Natural Order of Things, i.e. I’m The Responsible Home-owner, the task of calling the very fellow who I had above pointed that finger at fell on My To-do List post-haste. But guys, it’s New Year’s Eve. The Electrician is not going to come now! Left me to struggle with tel.-temptation until Thursday, January 2nd. A first for me. I am in favor of interrupting other’s fun when mine has been too.

Call made. The intervention set for the morning of the 3rd day of January. I drove down with The Dogs from Genoa. The Electrician’s assistant, a strapping & quiet fellow, met me at La Casetta. Let me amend quiet. He’s mute. Yes, he is prompt, professional, efficient, A Problem-solver!!! and yet, extremely non-talkative. He has worked on Il Poggiolo for the last five years of Our… My Ownership and I think I have heard him speak maybe ten words… Si, No, Si puo fare, Non si puo fare, and Forse. Feeling already mightily inadequate regarding things I know nothing about… and there’s a lot but mostly electricity, plumbing, fixing a lawn mower… the Assistant’s informational skills drive me to rank idiocy. Perhaps I am just not accustomed to having someone who actually listens to me? My Orders given and completed. I just would like a little conversation in between.

And, this very absence caused me to reflect upon what I have noted over the years of Il Poggiolo’s reconstruction and now maintenance with the verbal skills & characteristics of the many, many personalities of the Italian Construction Industry we encountered. There are three principal groups and not surprisingly, just as there are in the construction/re-construction of a house…

the Chatty Cathys are undoubtedly those Work-guys employed by Builders. And, it doesn’t matter which Builder. The crews act the same. They banter and joke and kid and gossip and rib each other while lugging, tugging & towing too. There are never lulls, voids, or skips to the airwaves. You always know where they are, what they are doing and how it is going by the conversational noise. It’s kind of hard to insert a word in even sideways to all their happy talk. Thank God, there were usually only six of them tackling Il Poggiolo. Can’t imagine the decibel level with any more than that.

the Plumbers are not chiaccheroni like the first group, a notch or two below those guy’s frequency. The trade-off, however, is whatever repartee is about between the Plumber & Helper/s, such as asking for a wrench, is marked by a highly creative exposition of foul cussing. Porca miseria!!!… Cazzo! Cazzo! Cazzo!… and every now & then, merda! are transmitted unabashedly. The last expression might explain the need.

whereas, the electricians are the Silence Is Golden folk. They rarely escape the bounds of Si or No. Often, while putzing about without detecting a word exchanged between the two Electrician’s assistants, I often think they must communicate telepathically. Why the rest of us must submit to wires & switches is one of those Construction Mysteries, never to be revealed. A shame they cannot share their secrets. I think everything should be Wi-Fi!

So, the Assistant said the thermostat E’ DEFETTOSO. I have heard him now use twelve words. He removed it and put a new one in its place. Silence. He then set the clock, punched-in MANUALE and the My Desired Temp, closed the flap and bid me Buon Giorno. Fourteen. And, we have heat! Gads.

 

 

La Loggia… the latest architecture

IMG_3861The view from My Chair looking west from La Loggia and over the village of Codipontte…

What do we have here? Lots of roofs. A gamut. The nearest is close to its last breath. The one behind & slightly above is good for a few more years. The house underneath it though is a post-earthquake disaster. And, the bright sparkling & spiffy roof to its far left is just new-built. Off in the distant are still others in various states of repair and many are held down by stones. If one roof tile shifts, so then goes the lot. Il Poggiolo’s old & fallen down roofs of five years ago had the same. Most all of what is seen for a roof tile is an ugly AND un-Godly cheap terra-cotta tile called le marsigliesi. Let me deviate here, so I now may give you My Lecture on the State of Italian Architecture…

There has been one solid natural disaster… much worse than our June 21st jolt… followed by a couple of inventions which, in My Self-esteemed Opinion, have summarily KILLED the eternal beauty & charm of architecture on the Italian peninsula… from the boot’s pull-strap of Alpine peaks all the way down its spine to its embroidered tippity-toe of Apuglia…

A) The earthquake in Abruzzo five years ago induced a reaction from Italy’s recalcitrant parliament to re-write the National Building Codes, effectively PROHIBITING any construction in stone/rock/pebble/boulder/other. Oh! You certainly may face with stone/etc. but, THE STRUCTURE CAN NEVER BE BUILT OUT OF ROCKS/ETC.!!! Industry responded by manufacturing a dense & squat proportioned terra-cotta brick of various dimensions for an anti-earthquake building material. Its width, and thus, its low center of gravity, hopefully, will same lives, when Mother Earth hits with her shaker-stick. Not a bad thing, however, the architectural options are curtailed…

B) Concommitant to the anti-scosse bricks, and if facing with stone is not an option… a mightily expensive choice… laying on stucco will be the necessary way to go. Well, until Industry comes up with a cool-looking & exposed alone anti-earthquake brick alla High-tech. This time, Industry, coupled with the Italian folk’s maniacal concern for cost-savings… reasonable concern, since our taxes here have quadrupled though there is a temporary 50% OFF tax discount for construction projects, good till December… responded by creating a PERMANENT stucco paint-color. So, GONE will be those charming facades in faded Ochre, Genoese Red, Neopolitan Pink & Ligurian Pistachio… for cryin’ out loud. And, concomitant to this HELLACIOUS precedence, the color palette is geared for intense, nearly Day-Glo tints. So charged, so infused with intensity, UFOs will be now able to detect the local Italian terrain without the use of their flashing lights, etc. Remember that ad… what was it for?… when a voice-over said… Cherry-cherry, Yellow-yellow, etc.? Well…

and C) since Industry was on a roll, le marsigliesi are now produced in a hard-knock material and in kilns rivaling l’Inferno that the quaint mosses, lichens & other low-grade flora, which adore nothing better than to attach themselves to surfaces occasionally wetted… WILL FOREVER DISAPPEAR FROM GRACING NEW-BUILT ROOFS IN ITALY!!! It was one thing to say Arrivederci to coppi e embriaci, it is another to withstand the plasticized effect… UNTIL KINGDOM COMES!!!… of these new-fangled marsigliesi. Now, statistics say that every year, about 25% of the roofs in Italy suffer the need to be re-built. I’ll let you do The Math on how long this architectural ROOF-CANCER will KILL-OFF the Eternal Beauty & Charm, etc. of Italian Architecture.

Ought I appeal to the New Pope? He cannot piss people off more after his Let’s-get-off-the-anti-gay-and-abortion Rant. Beseeching his help on Italian Architecture should be a safe item on his agenda these days.

More later on My View. Gads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The unexpected side of homeownership…

IMG_3507Oh, Lord!!! What’s going on? Every time My American Guests up in L’Appartamento Azzurro took a shower, and this was done at least two times a day, if not three, water would drip & drip & drip from that hole in the ceiling/sub-flooring.

My English Neighbor here in Codiponte suggested that it was a simple case of not sealing the connection between the drain and all those twisty-curvy PLASTIC!!! tubes. All I had to do was put siliconce on the connection inside the guts of the drain. Well, the One AND Only Time I risked squirting a silicone pistol… sounds kinky, doesnn’t it?… I made a HUGE mess. You knows nothing about this, blessedly. I now do not go beyond changing light bulbs under the heading of Dagwood Tasks Around The House.

I had to wait for the Americans to leave before investigating. The problem got worse!!! Water poured off the ceiling/sub-flooring and onto the IKEA 2 for 10 bucks sisal rugs on the floor of the Stanza dei Tini, thanks to those four-to-six total showers a day of the Americans.

I sought Professional Help. The Plumber #1, who had installed what-all had had a work related accident which has laid him low from last January. I did not seek further details. I called another. Plumber #2, who required a lengthy explanation of who I was, how did I get his telephone number, where was I and did I know what The Actual Problem was, etc.!!! Satisfied, he then told me he was too busy to take on more work. Gosh? Plumber #3, barely answered his mobile… flicking the switch of his skepticism when he saw Caller Unknown… made a series of harrumphs to My Abbreviated Curriculum Vitae, but said he could show up after 5PM. Fine. I’ll go cut the grass in the meantime.

At 5:27PM, Plumber #3 arrived down at the Medieval Bridge. I hobbled out to introduce myself, adding that My Hop-a-long-Cassidy Routine was due to a nearly intolerable Hip Issue. He was more interested to see what was going on with the shower. A good Sign, no? We went to inspect the ceiling/sub-flooring… a few harrumphs… then, we went up to L’Appartamento Azzurro for some more harrumphs. Plumber #3 asked for a screw-driver, made two twists to the thingy-ma-jigger of a chrome drain-cover, turned on the water, skipped down to check the ceiling/sub-flooring and proudly said… Fatto. What? Two twist and that’s that? Si, si. How embarrassing for me. Plumber #3 offered A Lecture… twisting the screw of the drain-cover tightens the connection of the guts of the drain to all those twisty-turny pipes. Ahhh,, the Wonders of Modern Plumbing & PLASTIC!!!. We made a tour of the other three showers to twist to make sure all was A-OK with them too.

Total time? 13 minutes. And the cost? A bistro glass of a very chilled Ligurian white wine & 20 minutes of chatting out on the Loggia. VIVA L’ITALIA!!! Gads.