Our dear Maria Delizia…

IMG_0089Our dear, sweet neighbor below us died yesterday. An unexpected & terribly sad event. A niece called us from the hospital with the devastating news while we were driving down to Codiponte for a post-Christmas lunch with Our English Friends. The rest of the journey was quietly dedicated to reminiscing about Gigliana… her nickname and how we affectionately knew her. On the books, she was Maria Delizia Spadoni…

Gigliana was undoubtedly Our Adoptive Mother in Codiponte. Through her we met Codiponte relatives & friends speeding our entry & acceptance into life of the village. She was unstintingly generous to us and The Dogs, mostly through Our Stomachs. The Dogs were enthusiastic recipients of huge panini chucked from a kitchen window. She was never without a smile or a good thing to say though struck low by a handicap which consigned her days to sitting in the kitchen. The world had to come to her and we did happily & regularly… to sit & drink a piping hot cup of caffe’ to chat and hear the latest or, to sit-down to a mountain of food for a Saturday pranzo. Whatever she had was ours too. And, we took everyone who came to visit us down to meet her… from You’s Mom to mine and from many friends from America to Genoa. We packed them into her kitchen. She loved it. And, she was You’s unofficial appointment secretary with all the Codiponte vecchiette e anziani seeking a consultation with il Dottore.

We shall miss Gigliana very much. Our Little Codiponte World won’t be so congenial now that she is gone.

And so, tomorrow, Tuesday, the 31st of December, at 3PM, we will pay our respects at the Pieve di Codiponte. It will not be our last… we shall never forget her and what she meant to us. Love…

 

 

It’s time to do the Ramp…

The First Order of Business, before picking & axing the Ramp, was to put the Oleander Corner into a more presentable state. This little angle was the once-upon-a-time habitation for the previous tenant’s chickens to swelter in the EXTREME Heat. The chicken quarters were measly befitting these animal’s measly brains… a wood box with a metal roof and, guess what? Chicken wire fencing for the enclosure. Lately, the area was suffering from an over-abundance of weeds. An under-construction photo…

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, the finished corner. Please, note the LARGE terra-cotta pots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was My Idea to put LARGE terra-cotta pots next to the salvia… or, sage… to fill in where weeds once crawled. The salvia… one of the Queens of the Italian Kitchen… is the fluffy Green stuff in between the two LARGE pots in the photo. Off to the nursery You & I went to find something to put in those LARGE things. I had previously found the pots at the local hardware store down in Gragnola. There, the folk are used to seeing money fly out of My Wallet to pay for my many, many purchases. They give me a discount for paying in cash. The LARGE pots were a bargain at 2 for ONLY Euro 50. Lord. That’s what just one pot, much SMALLER, cost me at another hardware emporium, an establishment, which NEVER gives me a discount. I rarely go back.

It was like pulling teeth with You on Our Plant Selection Excursion. Perhaps, worse. He was disappointed with the choice at the nursery. He wanted gardenias. There were none. He could not, would not… out-right REFUSED… to accept… even from the nice sales-lady… that 12 to 14 hours of full sun was not the best spot for such a plant. And. what did he think? Everyone has planted before mid-June and certainly before this abominable Heat. We were bucking Tradition & Common Sense. You was plainly impossible. He wanted two gardenias.

Just between us, You was bent out of shape because I had dared to move a plant he dispises… he calls them piney things… from where he had brazenly re-buried it behind another plant he said he dispised too, one he had expressly commanded I buy & put in this little corner of our garden in the Lunigiana, Tuscany, Italy, Europe, Earth, Milky Way… for cryin’ out loud!!! We came home with six flowering plants which put out itzy-bitzy flowers in any amount of sun you can throw at them. Fine. Oh, sorry. Name escapes me. We put together a melange of colors though… You did not want ONLY giallo… so it was one each of giallo, bianco e multi-colore. I was happy. You? He stopped complaining. Always a Good Sign. Otherwise, I would have suggested bed without dinner. Gads.

Old doors…

Dinner party last night. I hosted a contingent of Dutch & Swedes departing our fair corner of the Lunigiana. We could not sit down until 9 PM. Too darn hot any time sooner. It was 102F at 2:45 PM on the aia. The temp hovered there until late afternoon. As soon as the sun fled the scene, the temp eased down to a more reasonable 85F. And, by the end of the evening, we were in the Blue-blue-blue Salotto of La Casa Grande eating ice-cream & cookies. A chilly breeze had picked-up.

But, don’t those old doors work well for tables?

You says My Middle Initial C. ought to stand for Chuck-the-stuff. And, if the Truth were to be known, I WAS on the verge of giving a good ol’ heave-ho to il Poggiolo’s old & rotten doors. You caught me in time. And, I AM thankful. Yes, thankful for seeing the utility of old doors, i.e. hosting a dinner parties on Our Aia.

We first tried out this table-stunt last year for a dinner in honor of Our Dutch & Milanese friend’s wedding. You & I hosted all their out-of-town guests. We were about 47 folk of various nationalities, residences, ages, heights, sex, etc. I went to the Big City of Aulla to shop at the Brico Center… an Italian version of Home Depot though HD is far larger… to pick up saw-horses. Dreadful quality. Cheap too. 6 Euro. I bought a dozen. Came home & painted them in Our Color Rejects… various Sage Greens, a couple of Yellows… one is now the highly contested Kitchen Color in La Casa Grande… lots & lots of Blues and a few of tans. Works nicely to see so many colorful legs as you climb onto the aia from the Sottopassaggio. I wonder if You has ever noticed that?

The Dark-green plastic chairs were purchased on a second trip to Brico Center. They were cheap too. Only about 15 bucks ea. I bought a dozen.

The finishing touch… not evident in the above photo, as per the Extreme Heat when the shot was taken… are the IKEA aluminium lanterns distributed on the table, the Front Stoop and retaining wall separating Our Aia from Our Neighbor’s. Nothing beats the glow of candle light on a Summer’s evening. The doors look less beat-up too. Gads.

Blocks unblocked…

The Construction Guy showed up last night… promptly at 6PM… with his super-powered hydro-cleaner… a Star Wars character with water jets at the end of a very long black tube attached to what looked like an upright Electrolux. By the way… why are industrial equipment’s color schemes based on black with… yellow… orange… or red? The bi-colors lend a certain air of industrial strength? The jets shoot back, so the very long black tube scooted down the errant tube under its own power, met the Enemy & dissolved it with the plain force of its high-powered cleansing action. Resistance was useless.  That block of sand & debris flowed right out & on its way to the Codiponte sewers. Yeah!!! We’re clean & flowing. Gads.

An incomplete but functioning Kitchen…

A quick 360 degree look at the Cucina della Casa Grande…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I must say, these photo-documents do NO JUSTICE to how brilliantly fun My Acid-Lemon-Yellow-Green is in Real Life. Gads.

P.S. Coming Attractions… the oven gets lifted off the floor with a shelf above it & right under the counter for utensils, etc… next door will be shelves in chestnut, pieces left over from some part of il Poggiolo’s roof, for pots ‘n pans… the drawer & shelves need to be either the color of the door to the Laundry Room in the middle photo… a special brown we discovered at this castle-cum-modern-art-museum in Turin, il Castello di Rivoli… OR, I am seriously considering a silver paint color. This will surely cause You’s hair to turn TOTALLY grey!!!… No. I guess I won’t do that… and a small work table will go in the middle of the Cucina with a rug underneath, yet to be found by You in some delectable flea market… is it possible for a dust-laden junque-store to be delectable?… we tried a natural wool Sardinian one with a scalloped yellow border but, someone feared it would be stained almost immediately. You graciously DID NOT nominate anyone as the Guilty Person though I knew who he meant. Gads again!

Cool or warm, where it shall be…

Today, another Lady of the Village said we must be frying in La Casa Grande. I said no. It was relatively cool, if we had obeyed the hard-fast Italian Rule of shutting every window & door to the invasion of the Sun & Heat off the aia. Humidity is A Lost Cause. She seemed surprised. She said that that part of the house was always the warmest spot of il Poggiolo, come winter or summer, as she remembered it from her childhood. I suggested our recent work might have changed those conditions some. More windows & stucco-ed walls, for instance. So, off she scuffed.

I mentioned this to Our Next Door Neighbor and she confirmed what the other woman had said… La Casa Grande was warm year round. Hmmm… Good News & Bad. Our Inaugural Pranzo inside was very…? Very…? Very not hot for a Heat-wave-y Saturday in June. And, when I come down in the morning to open up a few windows, closed for the night, the interiors seem enclosed. Does that make sense? Like it might be fine in the winter… not COLD.

Now, in Day Four of Our Heat-wave, it’s essential to be cool. No air-conditioning, you see. Any where. ONLY natural air-conditioning of stone walls against Mother Earth. But frankly, I do not want to pass more than a passing moment in The Coolest Part of il Poggiolo, La Stanza dei Tini. It’s Our Water Resource Room & corridor to the Laundry Room & Bathroom. No thanks.

From my experience, the coolest living part of il Poggiolo is La Casetta in the summer. It has no Southern exposure, part of the first floor is above a cooled passageway which runs from the ramp up to il Poggiolo to a house squeezed into the borgo behind Our Neighbor’s house. I have spent two winters & summers in La Casetta and I can say there is no better place to be in the summer than in the Salotto out… of… the… sun. And, at night, all it takes is to open the BR window… the rush of the Aullela’s waters outside… and the other in the Salotto. Ecco! Natural air-conditioning. It’s called a breeze.

The winter is cozied by an excellently functioning fireplace. Superbly spews hot air into the Salotto and also into the BR & Bath out of vents strategically placed. The weather can do whatever it wants outside. However, the First Floor is a bit frosty thanks to a HUGE vent in the Kitchen. The Law requires it… dammit. Italians are not good with gas. Palazzi explode regularly from ill-fitted or maintained gas fittings/equipment/other. But, all it takes for that chill to flee is a flick of the thermostat, if you are copacetic to paying those HUGE energy bills from ENEL. I’m not. The gas company is a State monopoly. The Italian State gets enough of our money… new taxes of late… to miss-manage.

The Apt. Azzurro is the warmest, nearly all the time too. This is A-OK by me and The Dogs in the pits of a January Beeg Freezing. Not now this June’s Heat-wave. I had two hysterical Dogs panting in my REM Deep Sleep… AS IF I WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DAMN HEAT!!! I discovered that the door out to the Terrace and the open-space’s window out to the Garden must be wide open to induce that all desired b-r-e-e-z-e. Once established though… at 2:30 AM!!!… an air-conditioned Peace reigned… for both Canines & Human Being.

The trick in the winter is to get the fireplace going in the Apt. Azzurro… STILL NOT COMPLETELY FINISHED, thanks to the crack tactics of the Builder for two air-vents… and keep it going until the tall flue heats up to cut the cold in the open-space of the Apt. Then, it’s as cozy as La Casetta. Maybe more so with two snoring Weimaraners curled under my feet.

So far, La Casa Grande is a delight in the mornings. Sweet air comes in from the Garden. Ditto for the morning’s sunlight. After Noon, however, it’s IMPERATIVE to barricade shut everything towards the aia until 6PM. After that, one can live with the Kitchen window open, etc.

In the end, Heat in the winter is more important. I used the same rational with My FIAT, bought in Switzerland. The number of days demanding air-conditioning there you can count on one hand. Heat is not a discussion, however. I have survived the choice and hope to with il Poggiolo. However, if it’s absolute cool I must have during a desperately hot day & night, I can just throw those two Weimaraners in My FIAT, drive an hour and a half to Genoa, hit the 3rd Floor elevator button, open the door and find myself in an air-conditioned apartment. Personally, I prefer the adventure of finding cool or warmth as it happens. What fortitude!!! Gads.

Construction Update for early June…

Turned the corner coming up to the Courtyard this afternoon and WHAM!!! No front stoop. Gosh. The First Thought to strike was… leave it, save money and tell everyone the door is a window. Will the folk buy that? Second thought to smite was… I wonder what You would say? Must call him. Wouldn’t it be a hoot, if You were to agree with My Thought #1? Gads.

Another Day of Flooring Emotions…

Tut-tut... another day of laying down the terra-cotta flooring, now in the Salotto. This room is a kind of one-sided trapezoid. Does that make any sense? Anyway, we ran into A Tech-Question… to follow or not to follow the shape of the room for the interior field… or, the carpet? If we did, then both the outside & inside fields would be full of chopped up little pieces of terra-cotta, thanks to the rather rakish angle of a wall. These itzy-bitzy pieces are because the outside field pattern I chose… straight alternating pavers works well AND simply, if the pavers are layed at 90% angles to whatever they butt-up against… wall or border, etc. Creating a square center field solved the outside field issue EXCEPT that…
over in the far right corner in the photo below, there would be a whole lot of outside field. Fine. 

The Work-guys & I did several trial runs and My Vote went for how you see it. A carpet effect which is in the center of the room… ditto for the Sala da Pranza. We have obeyed the Law of Uniformity!!!
But, don’t it all look nice? Gads.

More Apple Corrections…

Yesterday afternoon, I happened to come across the Capo Supremo… or, the Big Boss… of the apple tort-making Group of 7 while she & her son unloaded a van stuffed to the roof with apple pies, cakes, strudels, fritters & croissants. I asked her how many sweets they had made and she replied… 250, caro!!! So, I said… You must be relieved to be done with Kitchen Duty and she screamed out... Oh, no!!! We’ve got to make another 400 just to make what we sold last year. I wasn’t so far off from the 800 I had heard around the village. Gads.

Windows And A Door…

Well, La Casa Grande is beginning to look like a real house now that the windows & a door were installed for the Upstairs Apartment. Our Wonderful Wood-worker, Giorgio, spent the day giving eyes & a mouth to the place. Naturally, while the thermometer hit 98F!!! Here are the hot-off-the-digital photo-documents…
La Casa Grande from the aia… or, Cortile…
the closed mouth of the Upstairs Apartment…
the Upstairs Apartment’s Kitchen window captured in the glare of the late afternoon sun… that Construction Trash is due to disappear tomorrow…
a close-up of the same… as the Heat & Humidity brushes overhead…
and, in the cool of the blue inside… minus the scuri… or, interior shutters.
I’ll see more of Giorgio tomorrow. He ain’t finished yet. Oh, The Excitement!!! Gads.