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With more sun than clouds, we watch the clouds float by, as there is a bit of wind on this Monday.
I paint in the morning, not seeing a lot of difference afterward, but realizing it's important to stay with this project, especially now. I love to paint, so it's a good thing.
This afternoon I paint again, and have a feeling of real accomplishment. The saint's face is a difficult one to paint, but bit-by-bit it is looking more realistic. Va bene!
Dino posts the March journal and I hope you enjoy it. Reading it afterward lets me know what a wonderful time we had last month!
Sofi is content to be sleeping in her little bed by the desk, even though it is after 8 PM. I stop catching up with you as well as painting and we return downstairs to end the evening with our best pal, Dino.
I have a pedicure this morning, but my mind is on the painting project, for the saint's day will be celebrated on the 30th of this month. Will I finish it in time? It's going to be a challenge, but let's see what I can do. I would like to finish it in time...I really would.
With thirteen tiny peat pots showing growth, we're optimistic. We'll have some lovely and delicious meals this summer with these heirloom tomatoes, surely.
There is so much rain falling today! Rain is expected here for a week or more, but today's is really pretty ferocious. I hope that does not affect the tender plants in the garden.
After pranzo we take long naps and read, for we can't work outside. I should paint later, but am really tired for some reason. We'll see. I do notice that St. Peter's left eye is looking much more realistic, and that is a great relief. Oh, how I love to paint!
I paint for a couple of hours, working on St. Peter's face, and it's better, but the painting needs a lot of work. I am committed to finishing it on time, but should I just be committed?:) I don't realize what I am doing, but while we watch television and Dino has a sandwich, I snack on a narrow baguette of olive bread, not realizing it has mold on its outer layer, thinking it is just flour. So will it be the end of me? I drink a lot of water and Dino just laughs. He doesn't think it will hurt me...much.
We watch television and I wait to be sick, but am not, so when we go to bed I will probably have nightmares. Serves me right?
After watching a few programs I go up to bed to find fourteen little tomato plants in their tiny peat pots. Way to go, pomodori!
We're up early, and the fourteen little plants are all doing well, thou skies are dark and cloudy.
The painting is looking well, although I need to research what a man's chin looks like when it is hit by another man's fist. There is plenty left to paint, but no matter. It will be fun to do.
The Euro continues to slide, which is good for our dollars in Bella Italia. We live on Social Security, and today the Euro is at $1.281. Just days ago, it was at around $1.30.
I return to painting, with little Sofi by my side, seemingly happy, resting as she's curved like a croissant in her little polka dot bed. Oh, how I love her!
We drive to Viterbo, pick up a couple of paint brushes at KLIMT, then Dino washes PandaRosso at a nearby self service car wash, while Sofi and I wait for him.
Back at home, there's a simple pranzo, some television watching and then a long nap. Tonight there's cena at Annika and Torbjorn's, so I make a batch of oatmeal cookies to share with them. They are such good friends, and we delight in spending time with them when they are here from Sweden.
We have a lovely evening with our friends, and Sofi is welcome there, too. The food is simple but delicious and it's a treat to spend time with these dear friends we don't see as often as we'd like. We're hoping they'll spend lots of time here this summer.
Back home, I research the recipe for the NYT's Lemon Meringue Pots de Cr¸me, and print it out, along with a similar recipe using lemon thyme. They are both good dishes to make, and I'll do that...soon! Buona notte.
It's cloudy all day and cool. No matter.
Christina arrives around 9 AM and stays until 1:30 PM, doing her weeding and cleaning up in the garden.
I paint as much as possible in the morning, for I'm determined to finish the painting so that we can take it to Don Francis for St. Peter's special day in several weeks. The person who is to make the frame will hopefully have it ready and we can all hang it on a wall of the church.
Sofi stays by my side all the while, and I've finally finished the saint's face, his eyes opened wide in shock, as Carino gets ready to lunge at him with a knife.
What takes most of the time to paint realistically is his white flowing gown, with shadows and light billowing all around him. There are so many shades of white!
I stop for pranzo, and Dino and I have something to eat and watch a television program or two that we've prerecorded, then he leaves again for his doctor's appointment in Viterbo.
There's no reason for me to go with him, so I stay at home with Sofi, determined to paint a bit after counting fifteen little seeding plants growing in the nearby serra near the window.
Dino returns and has had a good doctor's visit. He still has eye problems. Sofi and I are fine.
It's been a good day and the fifteen little tomato plants are doing fine. Perhaps there will be even more this next week.
Dino wants short ribs tomorrow, so that's in the schedule, along with more painting. All is sweet here, as usual, and night ends with rain on the windows.
In the middle garden, Muscari and Ranunculus are lovely, growing under a loquat tree, next to what is left after the anemone have flowered. Skies are cloudy and temperatures are cool. I learn just now that the anemone and ranunculus flowers are related, although they look nothing like each other!
Dino has returned to our good doctor in Viterbo, although he tells me he feels fine. He has had trouble making an appointment with the Rome clinic specializing in eye treatment. Perhaps today they'll have better luck. He did not think I needed to go with him this morning...when we travel to Rome I will undoubtedly need to drive home. I'd do anything for my dearest Dino.
For the next two hours I will be watching over the dish in the oven, basting it now and then. It is short ribs, and they are slow cooked in a tomato-based sauce with red wine and fresh herbs. Carrots and little onions simmer along in the casserole pot with the meat and wine. Do you wish you were here joining us for pranzo?
Little Sofi remains by my side wherever I move, and as the clouds roll by, fifteen little pots of heirloom tomato leaves stretch toward the sun and the grow light above them. Several don't seem to want to grow into plants, but I know the seeds are there. I'll wait a few more days before ignoring those dormant ones completely.
Fifteen plants will produce plenty of luscious heirloom tomatoes of varied colors for us to slice and eat during the hot summer months, when their coolness is a joy eaten with fresh buffala mozzarella and sweet basil from our garden, topped with a dollop of fragrant olive oil.
There's time to paint, in between basting the short ribs, and I concentrate on the saint's billowing white vestment, while outside more and more blue sky appears, seemingly blowing away the gentle clouds. Let's not forget to baste the meat!
I have a headache for most of the rest of the day, and use two different ice packs against my head. I even take a difmetré tablet at around 10 PM. My headache persists...
By the time we go to bed at around 11 PM, there are fifteen little pots with tomato leaves sprouting and growing.
Seventeen pots have seedlings growing when I check on them first thing this morning. How marvelous! I face them toward the sun and soon I'm hoping we'll be able to plant them in the ground. That's when Dino takes over with the watering.
With sunny skies overhead, it will surely be a lovely day. Sofi thinks so, too! With no sign of any headache, it feels like a miracle, as if I never had one...
Dino kindly shops and fixes pasta for pranzo while I continue to paint. I am determined to finish the painting for Don Francis before the end of the month.
This afternoon I paint a bit more, then wash the brushes and lay them outside to dry in the lovely sun. We take a nap for less than an hour, and then visit Annika and Torbjorn, for we've been invited to meet a doggie like Sofi and have a cocktail there. Comé no?
I'm just a bit anxious about how Sofi will react to the dog, but it's a male, so things should go smoothly. I'll be sure to let you know.
The dog is a beautiful large Bassotto (Daushund) male, and gets along fine with Sofi. They mostly ignore each other and the dog is sweet. We stay for an hour, then return home, where I do a bit more painting.
Time is running out for me to finish the painting; then let it dry for a few days before driving down to Isernia, in the Molise, South of Rome with it. Keep your fingers crossed...
I paint for an hour or two and am really tired, perhaps from concentrating too much. I do love to paint; I just don't know when to stop. But I do stop and return downstairs to Dino and Sofi follows me soon afterward.
Dino rubs my shoulders for a bit, although I feel plenty of stress there, so take a couple of tachiprina (each one is 500 mg.) and will go to bed with an ice pack again. Let's hope another full-blown headache does not return.
After a couple of hours watching television with my very best pals, I do go to bed, with an ice pack, and it's been a lovely day, a lovely week.
Just before turning in, I check the little serra (greenhouse in the studio) and lo and behold there are seventeen little pots with shoots growing up! Some of them look fragile, but they continue to grow. I'm quite thrilled.
It's Sunday, and that means going to church. Since there is no formal choir these days, it will be interesting to see what the hymns will be.
But with a bad headache overnight, I stay at home with Sofi while Dino attends church with the other residents of the village.
A bit after Dino leaves, I begin to rally and get up, hopefully to have a mellow Sunday. I take a cool shower and wash my hair, with sweet Sofi sitting patiently nearby, always there for me. The headache has dulled to an ache at the back of my head, where it meets my neck. That's not so bad and the cool shower felt great on my head.
There are seventeen little plants with shoots in the little serra, although a few look pretty fragile. Skies are hazy but it will probably be a good day, so I turn off the grow light and rest them on the inside window to enjoy the sunlight on this lovely morning.
The bad news about this time of year is that houseflies are prevalent and seem to like feasting on things inside the house. I hear one zooming around now and then while I catch up with you in the studio, but try to ignore it.
Sitting outside on the terrace while feeding the last dregs of my lemon yoghourt to little Sofi, I'm so happy to be living out my life at the edge of this tiny village. I feel the back of my head beating, but with my hair still damp, the coolness feels great.
My headache remains this morning, with sounds seemingly inside my head.
Right on time, a fellow arrives to replace the mechanism for the automatic gate, and Dino is right there beside him. But he leaves almost right away, promising to return in the next day or so. Va bene.
Inside, I catch up with you and then return to painting. I do love to paint, even though I am well aware that the painting needs to be finished in the next couple of weeks. With the most difficult portions finished, that should not be a problem.
Skies are colorless and the temperature is pleasant, so we should have a sunny and mild day. Sofi follows me back inside to the studio, just the same, taking her role as my protector and shadow seriously. I so love her!
Last night we watched the movie W.E. and I loved the music, so this morning I find it on iTunes and of course we have to have it. Madonna directed the film, and we think did a very good job.
We had hoped that Cristina would return to work in the garden, but there is no sign of her. Sigh.
Someone does arrive to fix the mechanism for the automatic gate He takes the damaged parts and will return tomorrow, magari (If only that were so. )Well, people are becoming more reliable these days, so perhaps he will. Speriamo.
The wisteria flowers are getting ready to bloom, and there are plenty of them. It will be wonderful sight, quite soon. Spring is such a lovely time of year, refreshing with so many chances to begin again. Life is like that, too, don't you think? Oh, come on. How about a bit of positive thinking? It will make you happier, surely.
After a short break, I'm back to painting, and my head seems fine, although my shoulders and back are a bit sore. Let's not fret, although it reminds me of a wonderful woman, Alice, who lived not too far away some years ago and was an incredible masseuse. She's moved away, although remains in my prayers for her happiness. Alice, wherever you are, bless you!
I stop painting at around 7 PM, and it's raining outside! Do you remember the phrase, "April showers bring May flowers"? I feel good about the progress on the painting, for the most difficult parts have been completed. Surely I will finish within the next week, which will give me plenty of time to let it dry before taking it to Fornelli di Isernia. Let's be positive and hopeful. Comé no?
When we watched the movie, "W.E.", the love story about a king who gave up his throne for the woman he loved, we found the music so lovely we purchased the soundtrack. The movie is worth watching, and was directed by none other than Madonna! She did a good job, so perhaps you'll see more of her in a director's role soon.
On this lovely morning, a few clouds roll by, but not many.
The painting project is massive: there are so many details and intonations that no wonder I have experienced a number of headaches throughout this process. Don't fret for me: I love to paint! I'm not complaining, or making any excuses.
The painting will be finished in time to take it to Don Francis for his town's April 30th saint's day, St. Peter of Verona. I am sure of that.
With the option for Sofi to gambol about outside, she'd rather stay inside with me, for she is my shadow, "La mia umbra"! The Italian language is not so different from English: think of the word "umbrella" for shade or shadow, aka "umbra". There you go!
While Dino travels across the Tevere (Tiber) to Attigliano, I take a break to catch up with you and rest my eyes a bit from painting. Time to return to it after a fifteen-minute break...
I paint with complete concentration until noon, then Dino tells me that pranzo is ready! Oh, my!
We finish our tasty pranzo, pollo piccatta limone, fixed entirely by my darling Dino, and then I return immediately to the studio to paint, while birds sing like crazy outside, their sounds so sweet!
Three hours later I just have to stop painting. There is still plenty to do, but I'm exhausted physically, my back beginning to ache. Perhaps tomorrow morning I will begin painting once again with my usual plethora of spirit and energy.
I really have to: I can't imagine letting my dear friend, Don Francis, down after he was kind enough to give me this commission.
Outside on the little stone benches we have provided for our neighbors to rest upon on their way up the hill, there are sounds of chacciarata (chatter, gossip).
I walk downstairs and then remember to close the studio window. That's where the tiny pomodori seedlings grow in tiny pots made of peat. But disaster has struck! Sometime after leaving the studio to hopefully relax, I return upstairs to water the seedlings and find them all tumbled on the floor! I had opened a window for them, since the day is so mild, and a wind blew them all off the ledge!
Will any survive? Well, I rush downstairs for a brush and container to pick the soil and seedlings up in and return to the studio, while Sofi sleeps peacefully in the room nearby. I know she's peaceful, for she's snoring as only Sofi can, in the dearest way.
I am able to put all the soil and seedlings back in pots, although won't know which ones they are until they are picked and I can hopefully identify them by their photos. Fa niente. (No matter.)
I had two little pots previously that had no seedling emerging in them, so by the time I've repotted them and separated a few that had more than one seedling, we now have nineteen plants instead of seventeen!
Whatever does that mean? Well, we could go two ways. The pessimists will say that none will survive their ordeal. The optimists, which include me, will say that with care and caution, we'll have nineteen plants, and that we will be rewarded for all our care!
Since the front door has a kind of rope screen to keep houseflies away, we have trouble closing the door sometimes, because the ropes are too long. Now, Dino sits on the landing and snips and then burns the ends of each one so that they will all be the correct length and will be sealed at the end so that they won't fray. What a guy!
Let's lie down and read for a bit. My back is telling me it needs a rest. Comé no? Of course Sofi stays with me, lying next to the bed in her little bed. After a couple of hours, the three of us sit around and watch television together for the rest of the evening. I'm feeling rested and much better.
Yes, this is our little paradise. Things have a way of working out. Hope your life is like that wherever you are, too!
I hear weed whacking on the path and hope it is Mario. When I look out the window I cannot see anyone other than Dino driving down Via Mameli in PandaRosso. Fa niente.
Sofi waits for me in her bed in the studio, and after taking morning medicines I'll return to paint once again. There are always areas to enhance, so I won't need to move the canvas up before Dino returns from Viterbo.
A few puffy white clouds float off in the sky, which is mostly pale blue and the morning is heavenly, as usual.
Wisteria blossoms are ready to appear, and there are many of them, which tells us that we'll have lots of pale pink and white flowers cascading down in front of our house on the pergola during the next weeks.
Plenty of birds are happy around here, and we hear them chirping to each other now and then. This is indeed a happy place, and we are so happy here.
Dino fixes pranzo, after picking up a roast chicken from Viterbo. We have it with basmati rice and I fix a salad. We also have cookies for dessert, which he also picked up on his travels. It's all delicious, and after watching a television program or two, we take a nap. Sofi is peacefully lying in her polka dot bed by my side as I write these words.
With plenty of birdsong, I follow Dino to bed to read and for a rest.
Why is the word "dustpan" one that sticks in my mind this morning? Well, I could not remember the word for it some days ago, but no matter.
Dino finds the soft brush he was looking for just now on a chair in the studio, set on top of the aforementioned dustpan.
He looks at me with scorn, for he had asked me if I knew where it was yesterday and I had no idea. You know me: the dreamer. I hardly glanced at the chair each day when entering the room to paint.
Haze turns into a lovely pale blue sky, the hill across from us in the valley topped by hundreds and hundreds of trees, all spindly but strong, nonetheless.
Online, I view news stories as well as fashion shows, and do admit I like a Givenchy dress shown on the critics fashion guide, although would like it better if it were sleeveless on both sleeves. Later this summer I will sew a similar dress, probably for one of the young French girls, with the same ruffle effect. Comé no?
There are twenty-two pots with pomodori shoots growing, and that means 100% of the crop! It's the right amount for plenty of fruit this summer, but not too much. I have a delicious taste in my mouth just imagining the taste of a freshly sliced tomato, don't you?
Sofi wants to go out, so I open the front door and as I follow her outside I see Dino on a ladder, clipping any dead shoots from the glicine (wisteria, but by now don't you know that?:)) This is an annual priority, and Dino takes it seriously. Si, certo!
Oh how beautiful they will be, cascading in pale pink and white down from the iron pergola on the terrace. In the sky up above, a few lines of clouds drift by and oh, what a beautiful day it is!
At 11:59 AM, Dino calls up to me to fix pranzo, which will be chicken risotto, but hey, "Palie", it's too early! Don't I have a few minutes more to paint? O.K.
While downstairs, I take a look at the tulips growing, and see one in particular that is quite divine. Here it is, behind a few white ranunculi, and what could be more beautiful, other than roses that will soon blossom all over the place?!
I add fresh sage from a pot on our terrace to the chicken risotto, and we both like it a lot. We're out of lettuce, so forego a salad, and will pick some up tomorrow.
Returning to painting while Dino watches television and then takes a nap, I realize there are so many details yet to do! Bit by bit I accomplish a number of them; then stop to spend a few minutes outside checking out the lovely tulips and the view. It has been a lovely day.
I look for Sofi but she is nowhere around, and find her back upstairs in the studio, resting in her polka dot bed. Something is wrong with her; she's having trouble moving around, and there's something not quite right with one of her eyes.
I pick her up and bring her downstairs to the kitchen, where she sits on the sofa, resting with her head hiding partly under the Sofi pillow while Dino and I watch television.
For the remainder of the evening, she's quiet, although earlier when Stefano and Roberto Pangrazi were here to talk with Dino about the cliff project right outside the main gate, she was happy to see Stefano. She loves him.
Dino went to Viterbo earlier to purchase special glass pieces; they are to be affixed to the cliff and as it moves, Stefano and Pangrazi and Dino will monitor its movements. Only after ten days or so will they be able to understand what is wrong with the cliff, meaning where the movement takes place.
The next step is to repair it, and several sets of folks will be asked to participate in the cost, including us. That's the way things are done around here.
Sofi is better, so we'll not need to take her to the vet in Viterbo this morning. I so worry about her.
There's plenty of time to paint, so I'm not concerned. The painting is moving along rapidly, and I'm hoping to finish several days before we need to take it down South.
Earlier Dino helped me to move the canvas up so that I could paint the remainder of it on the bottom. The structure he fashioned is wonderful, with a curved top so that the painting can roll over it and not crease while I paint lower on the canvas.
Both Maria Tallchief and Jonathan Winters died this past week and I have memories of each of them, back to my childhood. In 1962, when the recently-defected Rudolf Nureyev debuted on American television, he chose Maria Tallchief as his partner.
I remember seeing him perform on a couple of occasions in Boston, where my mother took me to watch him perform. On one occasion, we were shocked to see him kick his partner in the side as he jumped. The man had a colossal ego.
The performance was wonderful, otherwise. Was she the woman he kicked? I do not recall.
Jonathan Winters was a regular on Saturday Night Television when I was young. Oh, how he made us laugh!
On this morning, heavy fog gives way to lots of sun and a few marshmallow-looking clouds, dark underneath and very strong. Wonder what that means?
There are plenty of birds again this morning, and as we listen to them I paint away, hoping to finish the bottom of the painting and then try to move back up to relook at recapturing the saint's eyes better.
Stefano is to come by to pick up some pieces of glass to suspend against the tufa cliff. The reason is to watch their changes and possible breakage as the cliff moves. Only when he understands the direction in which it is moving does Stefano think he can fix it correctly. That is a good sign, for we think it means he will do the work. Va bene! Unfortunately, he does not come by. Sigh.
The wisteria in front of the house is in pre-flower, but is so very lovely in its budding form. There are literally hundreds of flowers beginning to open, looking down upon the terrace. We're so fortunate for so many reasons to live here.
With Sofi nearby, I paint and paint and paint the bottom-most part of the painting, not quite finishing. I do some of it sitting down, for my back is bothering me. Dino thinks its because I concentrate for too long a stretch at one time.
Dearest Dino bids me to stop and I do at about 7 PM, and now I surely will be finished painting within the next week, with plenty of time to take the completed canvas down to Don Francis before the end of the month.
Tonight we relax in front of the television. It is such a relief to do...nothing!
There's church to attend this morning, so Sofi waits inside and sleeps while we are gone from the house.
Don Angelo is today's priest, and he stops at my side to wish me a good morning. He is such a wonderful man.
I spend the mass time thinking about how centered I feel here in this little village, this church. Although his words are spoken in Italian, he speaks so clearly that I understand most of what he has to say. He loves what he does, and it shows.
There are plenty of neighbors to greet and hug, and afterward Tiziano and Alessia and the babies greet us at the back of the church. They are a lovely and loving family and we are happy to know them.
We drive to Il Pallone for caffé and food shopping at Superconti, then come home. I do some gardening and then take on the challenge of fixing stuffed zucchini flowers with anchovy and buffalo mozzarella, then dip each one in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs before frying all of them in girasole (sunflower) oil. I don't think I need to tell you how tasty they are!
After a great meal, Paola Fosci arrives for a visit. I have so missed her! She'll be a mother several months from now and she and Antonio expect a girl. How wonderful is that?! Dino wants her to see the painting, so I take her upstairs and Sofi stays right by our side. How this little doggie loves us both!
After Paola leaves, I return to the studio to paint, and remain there for several hours, until I'm really tired. There are so many details to do in this painting! Just as I'm thinking I'm about finished with the whole painting I realize that the angle of the saint's head and his eyes are not just right. Sigh.
So I paint white over part of his face and eyes. When that dries a bit, I'll be able to paint the details correctly. Then the painting will be finished and ready to dry for a couple of days before taking it to Don Francis and it's final resting place. What a relief that will be!
Roy has watched his favorite Formula 1 race and later the Augusta Masters Golf Tournament, so he has plenty to feast his eyes on today. All the while Sofi rests by my side and is happy.
Speaking of a feast for the eyes, our wisteria glicine is so very beautiful, beginning to open its pinkish-lavender flowers. In another two weeks, it will be a riot of color here!
The tulips and ranunculi are in bloom and look great, but the tulips are not the colors indicated on the packages of bulbs. The labels indicated white in one and pink in another. The first set of bulbs is bright red with curly petals and green markings.
The second set of bulbs has not yet flowered, but almost looks, well...black! What an adventure this all is! I'll be sure to let you know and even include some photos soon. No matter. They are beautiful!
We go to bed very early after watching a little television, and since Dino hit his head earlier when walking down the steps of a friend's house to their basement, he has a red sore on the front of his head. Earlier he had a headache but seems fine.
Tomorrow we travel to Viterbo to get our tetanus shots. Yikes!
The tetanus shots were not big deal, although we had to wait about an hour for the injections, although we brought them with us from the pharmacy. Our doctor had given Dino a prescription for it earlier. This is our second set; the first was ten years ago! Would one call that tempo italiano ( Italian time)?
Our good doctor is a very good man and quite busy, so we're not surprised that although we had an appointment, he could not take us right away. We sat in the waiting room reading our Kindles, and the time moved pretty quickly.
After a stop at LIDL in Viterbo for food goodies and a couple of errands, including searching for a gas station that sells GPL for PandaRosso, we return home, in time for me to do a bit, well, quite a bit, more painting.
Following us in his car today was Stein, and we took him to the auto body shop so he could drop his car off to have the back window replaced. It will be ready tonight, so Dino will take him back to Viterbo later.
Sofi has been a perfect doggie, as usual, waiting for us in the car wherever we went. Her tenth birthday will be in a couple of weeks, so we'll surely celebrate then, although every day is a festa with her.
It has been a truly beautiful day, clear and mild even after 6 PM while I catch up with you with the South window open, although I really need to stop and return to the painting standing behind me in the studio. St. Peter's shocked expression is not easy to capture, but let's give it a try.
All the while, Sofi rests in her polka dot bed, looking up at me now although she's already had her cena and "done her business." She looks content, and come no? (why not?)
Dreamy filmy clouds barely visible cover a happy spring sky, soon to fly away to my left. Is that direction...East?
Dino leaves the house to check on May Elin's garden project and do some shopping for today's pranzo. I see Mario on the street talking with Dino as he is about to drive off, so perhaps Mario will weed-whack today. Oh how Sofi hates him! I am sure it must be just the noise he makes. Thankfully, it is just talk.
The glicine appear like soft clouds, as their pink and white buds begin to open, now looking more violet in color, but not for long.
All around us the birds are chirping, but today they seem more frightened and angry. How lucky we were not put on this earth as birds; their lives are so fleeting and temporary, always fearful of larger prey. The sounds are heavy. Purtroppo! (Too bad!)
Please forgive me: there is so much to write about to describe how lovely this setting is, but I'm ensconced in the studio, working on the finishing touches of the painting and there is so much detail that it takes all of my concentration. Hope you're enjoying your day!
Dino fixes pranzo while I paint; how dear is he!!:) He calls me at around 1 P M, and I stop, take the brushes downstairs and clean them, then join Dino for a tasty meal.
Little Sofi does not feel well, although she is ever by my side. Her stomach does a lot of gurgling, and although we have put a vial of enterogermina in her water dish, but she won't drink anything, nor will she eat her food. How sad.
While I catch up with you and Dino enters the bedroom to read a book, Sofi looks up at me with her lovely brown eyes and seems so unsure of her self. She wonders why the discomfort won't just go away.
I let the brushes dry a bit outside in the sun, although I want to finish the painting. Perhaps I'll lie down for a bit and read, then paint a bit later. Comé no?
The news about the bombings in Boston during the Boston Marathon is so very terrible! I email Liz after her email that she is fine, and she tells me that Sarah is fine, too. I won't even tell you how sad I feel, for you're probably sad, too. I don't think I know of anyone who was there at the time, although decades ago, I worked right on the same block.
Here in our little piece of heaven, the weather is perfectly mild, the sky is beautiful with just a touch of clouds and spring flowers are blooming, especially the wisteria, which has hundreds and hundreds of blossoms, just beginning to flower. Ranunculus, anenomies, tulips and a few things I can't name are all in bloom.
I can't imagine living anywhere else in the world, although we miss Terence and Angie and Marissa and Nicole, and wish we could see them more often.
We sadly share the tragedy of the bombings in Boston with the rest of the world on this Patriot's Day in Boston. Thousands of runners in the marathon will remember this day for the rest of their lives. It is being deemed a terrorist act, although the perpetrator/s have not been found yet. We will stay tuned.
Here at home, I paint some more and no, I am not finished, but should be by the end of the week, if not sooner. I am concentrating on St. Peter of Verona's face and head. Other than that and the shadows on the front of his habit, which are a bit complex, I've finished.
Dino's birthday is Saturday and he wants to drive to Talamone on the West coast of Italy's long body for pranzo, so of course we will.
We wake early on another lovely April morning, have a spot of cereal for breakfast with espresso and cappuccino and then Dino clips the box on the front terrace, turning it into a neat hedge. Those early days of the dancing round globes of boxwood seem such a distant memory, but life is still sweet.
Unfortunately the tomato seedlings do not look well, so I add a natural fertilizer to their little pots, hoping I can save at least a few.
Sofi continues to be my shadow, following me back up to the studio to catch up with you as she rests in her polka dot bed while I return to the painting.
We are invited to Peppi and Steven's house for cocktails, so drive there with Sofi and we all have a couple of hours together. Sofi gets along fine with the several dogs at the house, and we are able to see the changes they have made and hear the ideas they plan to make.
How happy they seem to be! We're surely glad about that. These are two wonderful men, sensitive and kind and funny, and what's not to like about them?
We're back at home a few hours after we left. Up in the studio, I do not like the way the saint's head looks on the canvas, but can I change it in a major way without ruining the painting?
I have done just that, and like the way his face is coming out, although it's not exactly the same as the original painting. This painting has become my artist rendition of the original, and the quality looks fine to me, albeit a bit modern. But then there's the opinion of Don Francis, the one that really matters. We'll see.
By the time Dino has gotten into the main part of tonight's movie on SKY, I've returned upstairs with Sofi, and after I catch up with you I'll go to bed and read until I'm tired enough to sleep.
Tomorrow will be a long driving day, for we pick up Don and Mary at Fiumicino Airport, and it will be so good to see our pals again. PandaRosso is a really good new car, it drives well, and suits us just fine.
While Sofi snores in her polka dot bed beside me, I get ready for bed and dreamland. Dino will follow soon. A domani!
We leave the house mid morning for the airport, and with the bubble on top of the car, there should be plenty of room for Don and Mary's luggage and her portable wheel chair.
Mary is a delight, not mentioning how she feels or complaining. She's an amazing woman, positive and agreeable to just about anything Don wants to do. He is a wonderful companion, ever ready to help her in and out of the car or with anything. We love them both, and Sofi, well, she adores Mary and likes Don, too!
The drive to their house is a bit long, but Mary and Sofi and I sit in the back seat, with Sofi's little head on Mary's knee. It's a very dear expression of the doggie's love for her.
Once they are settled in at their place, we return home for a nap, although my mind is on the painting and I spend a fair amount of time working on the canvas, changing the saint's eyes a couple of times, and still not completely satisfied. There's always tomorrow...at least for a week or two. Let's not fret.
After a couple of hours watching television, I return to the studio to catch up with you and then go to bed and read until I'm tired enough to sleep. Until tomorrow, I send you hugs and hope all is well with you and yours.
Well, I suppose its good news, but now there is only one tiny peat pot with a living shoot. What? Perhaps at the Montecastrilli market in a week or two we'll pick up some of the giganti variety, and of course that means they will be huge. So for now, that's it for the heirlooms. They all dried up in their little peat pots on the windowsill. Sigh. I can't find the packets of seeds anywhere, so we must have used them all.
Better news is that the wisteria is just gorgeous, purple-pink and white all across the front of the house, growing up to and over the balcony. We'll certainly have shade all during the hot summer months as an added plus.
Dino leaves for an appointment, while Sofi lays in her little bed, waiting for me. Let's go out and enjoy the morning sun!
The painting looks pretty good, with the saint's expression drying a bit over night. I'll do a bit of work on his eyes and mouth this morning, but wonder how we will gently roll it up to fit inside PandaRosso for the trip to Don Francis without any paint on the canvas being damaged. I'll surely take my paints along for any possible needed touchups. Let's not worry.
I've just remembered where the seeds are stored, so if there are any, I'll surely find them. I find the drawer where we keep seeds, and come up with two varieties: Gold Medal (I think) and Black.
So now we have nine tiny peat pots hopefully growing seeds in the studio window. One seedling in a pot survived the first attempt, and there are eight new ones. Each of the new ones contains at least three seeds. Let's be optimistic.
Dino was so kind to make a pasta for pranzo while I painted, and after a good meal I am so tired I really want to rest a bit.
Upstairs in the studio I take a last look at the little peat pots in the window and catch up with you, after glancing at St. Peter of Verona, who indeed looks, well, shocked!
I'll fiddle with the painting for the next couple of days; then we'll roll it up, finished side down, into a tube that will have paper underneath it. Soon we'll drive to Don Francis with it.
With the beginning of yet another headache emerging (no wonder!) I take two tachiprina and lie down for a rest for a bit. The headache is a dull one, but exists nonetheless.
After a while I get up to find Dino on a ladder trimming a bit of the wisteria here and there. What a beautiful scene it is from the upstairs studio window!
I don't think anyone in the world is not aware of the terrible shootings that took place in Boston a few days ago. Dino tells me the uncle of the boys was interviewed on television and pleaded with the boys to give up. They are from Chechnya, and so are being called "terrorists". I suppose they are, for they certainly struck terror in the hearts and minds of thousands in Boston and beyond.
With plenty of birdsong and a breeze billowing out the gauze curtains in the studio window as I catch up with you, I feel so fortunate to be alive. It's truly lovely here in this little corner of the world, seemingly hidden from the world scene. I'm glad of that.
Our pink and white wisteria is more than beautiful than ever on this morning, with its flowers cascading down all over the lower front part of the house, except for the far West side, where the last plant is green, with few flowers.
Dino remembers that that plant, when we purchased the others, did not have a lot of flowers on it then. It certainly does not now. At the time we purchased them, we purchased all the plants with pink and white blossoms. Fa niente (It's not important.)
Today is Dino's birthday, so on this lovely day we drive all the way to Talamone on the West coast for pranzo with dear Sofi, stopping first for a bit of breakfast in Bomarzo.
The day is a dream, and although we walk quite a bit in Talamone, we don't purchase anything, even though I suggest to Dino that we pick up a special shirt for him.
Dino calls Silvano, who will arrive, we hope, first thing on Monday morning to fix it. For now, we must be prudent when using the bathroom here, and I'll leave it at that...
I do a check on the little heirloom tomato seedlings hopefully growing in soil in nine tiny peat pots under a plastic bag in the studio, and they continue to germinate, with not much happening to them, I suspect. I've read about how to start them in a plastic bag with an opening at one end, and I've done just that, so we'll see what happens in the next few days.
I microwave a packet of popcorn for a snack for us, and that's about it for cena, and we watch television until it is late enough to turn in. I hope that Dino enjoyed his birthday. I do love him so!
I catch up with you while Sofi snores in her little polka dot bed beside me; then we move to the bedroom where Dino and I will read until we fall asleep. A domani (Until tomorrow.)
There is church to attend this morning, and Sofi sleeps at home during the morning, just waiting for our return.
Don Angelo is our priest, and stops to greet me. He is such a kind man, as is Don Daniele, the priest of Bomarzo, who was in Mugnano yesterday for the house blessings. Since Dino told him we would not be at home yesterday, they talk in the back of the church regarding a special visit he will make here to bless our house. That may happen soon.
We shop at Il Pallone for groceries, but not for many, for our septic system is not working and the messy job to fix it will begin on Monday morning, when Silvano arrives to checkout the electrical to see if that is the problem. You don't want to know the specifics...
We have a septic system because we are not connected to the main sewer. I think we're too far from the borgo for it to reach here. So a company will come to pump it out, from either Giove or Viterbo, hopefully soon. We may need to purchase a new pump; the current one we've had for ten years or so, and the work is quite expensive. Sigh! Do you realize what this means?
Here's Dino's explanation of the system and the issues:
The closest sewer connection to us is about 50m up the hill. The Comune would not extend it down to us!
Our major wall and parcheggio project in 2003 included a new septic system underneath the pavement of the parking area (parcheggio). There are two tanks, one that everything empties into and the other is for the liquid overflow. Inside the liquid tank is a pump that is activated with a float switch (sort of like a toilet tank, but in reverse). When the level of the liquid waste is at a certain level, the pump is activated and pumps said waste up the 50m to the sewer connection. Voila!
If the pump fails, the level of the waste liquid continues to rise and eventually activates a silent alarm using a 2nd float switch. That alarm is a RED light in a noticeable place in our kitchen.
So, the GOOD news is that the alarm worked! The BAD news is ...
Good news is that the painting is just dry enough for us to roll it on Tuesday or Wednesday early for our drive to Fornelli di Isernia, where it will be framed and live out its life hung on a wall of Don Francis' church. There will be a ceremony and we will probably stay overnight.
Dino watches today's Formula 1 race while I spend time on the computer logging in kindle books; then we both take naps.
We're awakened by dear friends Annika and Torbjorn, who are here from Sweden, and open a bottle of prosecco to have a toast.Comé no?
Our grand daughters, Marissa and Nicole, are singing in the St. Cecilia Choir at todays Mass in San Francisco and we try to watch them on the church's streaming hookup, but we cannot seem to stream the service on our computer. It's sad, but we are thinking of them with joy and love just the same.
I spend some time logging in all my Kindle books in an excel chart, so that they're easier to locate. Once that's done, I return downstairs to Dino with Sofi and watch a historical program on Leonardo daVinci before turning in. It's cold here tonight!
I'm somewhat dazed for some reason while Dino gets up to meet a man from Giove who is to pump out the septic system. He does his work and Dino calls the plumber, Enzo. He will arrive tomorrow!
A bit of rain gives way to a few clouds and plenty of sun and cool breezes. It's a beautiful day, with plenty of birdsong. But then, every day this season has birdsong. We are so fortunate.
I look out the front studio window to see lovely pink and white wisteria cascading its long tendrils down in front of the house. Before we grew wisteria, I dreamt of it for so long, and now that it's here, I feel I'm in a dream out of the film, "Enchanted April". Indeed, the scene is enchanting.
After breakfast, Dino drives off to Tenaglie to the bank and to do errands in PandaRosso. He still loves driving, these days in his new red car.
In two days, we'll drive to Fornelli di Isernia to bring Don Francis the painting for his church. I hope he's pleased with it, for it is to hang on a wall there...or will it be the ceiling?
Dearest little Sofi is curled up in her polka dot bed beside me like a croissant. I just adore her. She is indeed my shadow.
With no tomato seeds emerging from the latest round of peat pots, the good news is that there is nothing to hover over. Unless a miracle happens, there will be no heirloom tomato plants here this spring, and no tomatoes to enjoy this summer. No matter. I try to coax them into growing inside a plastic bag in their peat pots in the studio, with no luck. I suppose I'm too optimistic.
Here's a photo taken just now by Dino of the front of the house with the wisteria, aka glicine, in full flower.
The weather is decidedly cool, with more wind than I had expected for this time of year. The good news is that I can hear the chimes and love their sounds.
Dino expects to drive to Tenaglie to meet renters at any minute, and we'll probably drive with him. Since I have nothing to paint, comé no? we do drive together and meet the two women who are renting in Tenaglie, and they are so very friendly and kind. After showing them around the property, we leave for home, as a huge dark cloud hangs over Mugnano.
We stop first to see Mary and Don. I so love Mary, and we'll see them in a few days for cena at I Gelsi, a place near them that they enjoy. I wish there was more time for Mary and I to spend together. One can only hope.
At home, all is well, and with nothing to paint or do, might as well take a nap. The wisteria on the front of the house feels like its here as a gift from God. Thank you so, dear Lord.
Sun and clouds greet us, although there is a bit of noise down below as Rosati and his son and assistant (Luca and Fabrizio) arrive to fix the rest of the septic tank system problem. It appears that some rocks were caught near the bottom of the tank and it stopped up the action. I don't know how else to explain it. We're so near the borgo, where there is a sewer, and yet so far...
They clean the pump and all is well.
Dear Dino works along side the men, and when they're through we can at last take showers again. What a relief! I take a long shower, washing my hair and luxuriating in the experience. After several days or more of using only a wash cloth and a bit of water, it feels heavenly.
When I dry my hair I am surprised at how long it is, reaching past my shoulders! I have never had hair so long, and am enjoying every bit of using the hair dryer and mousse on it. Now if only the roots would come in gray instead of brown, we'd be in business, so to speak. I suppose I'm not so old after all. Is that a good thing?
Dino wants to roll up the painting this afternoon, but I am trying to hold him off...rolling it tomorrow morning will give it less chance to crack. I'm somewhat nervous about it and we've agreed that we won't have a photo of it until it has been framed and hung in the church.
We're taking it to Don Francis' house in Fornelli di Isernia, although I'm hoping we'll all go to the church where it will be hung and he will show us where it will live. Speriamo di si! (We hope so!)
The painting will be stretched and framed before it is hung up on April 30th, the saint's day, in the church. We surely won't attend, for we'll be back home in Mugnano then.
What will he and the people of his parish think of the painting? Some will like it; some will not. I suppose it's a good thing we won't be there on the 30th.
I feel somewhat strange on this day, for I don't have a project to put my arms around. No matter. It's time for me to rest and relax.
Although this is a quiet village, the cacophony of the tiny birds continues all morning. I so love their sounds, although if I were a bird I would probably think otherwise. Are they defending their turfs?
Sofi continues to sit by my side and is so happy. So are we. Perhaps it is time for an omelet with that wild asparagus for pranzo
I am not really happy with the painting, for the background sky needs to have plenty more clouds, but since we're taking paints with us tomorrow, perhaps I can paint them in when we're there, over the sky. One can only hope.
Dino speaks with Don Francis and learns that the painting won't be framed or put up in the church for some time. It's expected that it won't go on a wall at all, but on the ceiling. Can't you see me lying on the scaffolding while putting the finishing touches upon it?
I'm not happy with the painting, for the saint's expression is different than that of the original; it is my interpretation of what went on, but that may not please Don Francis. We will see.
Pranzo is fine and the weather is cool, so an afternoon nap should be delightful; those birds outside still have a lot to say at 3 P M.
We leave early with the painting gently rolled up to present it to Don Francis at his home in Colle Croce, just outside Isernia. He will then arrange to have the canvas stretched and mounted in an elaborate frame on the ceiling of his church.
It will be more than a three hour drive each way, and we expect to return home tonight without it.
Well, life is full of surprises.
With the painting unrolled near his home in Colle Croce, Don Francis is unhappy with what he sees. Although the painting looks quite similar to the post card of the original painting in Rome, his intention is that it would have more sepia tones, and look more in keeping with a fifteenth century painting, although he forgot to share that information with me in advance. In his concept, St. Peter's cloak is black, not dark blue, and that is news to us, too. So be it.
He wants to keep it to study it, but I tell him we'll take it back with us and bring him back the painting in the sepia tones he is hoping will work with the colors he has picked for the restoration of the inside of the church. The saint's cloak will also be black, instead of dark blue. Since it will take some time for the church to be restored, he tells us there is no rush to finish the painting and return it to him.
I am quite saddened to hear his disappointment, but with dearest Dino by my side, and his unceasing support, I think of other things, and tell Don Francis we will return home with the canvas this afternoon instead of staying for a visit, to work on it. He's not an easy client, but no matter. When we return to him with it I am confident he will love it. I look forward to seeing a big smile on his face.
We're home in little Mugnano in Teverina at 4:45 PM, and there is time for Dino to take a nap before we drive to Sam and Lisa's for cena. Sam called this morning to invite us and Dino agreed that we would come. With Sofi staying at home to rest, we're hoping it will be a relaxing evening.
Lisa and Sam are wonderful hosts, and we meet two couples we have never met and share a delightful evening, although I am thinking of little Sofi alone in her cage waiting for us.
When we arrive home, Sofi is her usual sweet self, and I joyously greet her. We soon turn in, wondering if there will be the usual fireworks at midnight. I hope not. They will scare Sofi.
Thankfully, there are none.
Today is an Italian national holiday Festa della Liberazione (Liberation Day), so stores are closed. This is the day in 1945 when WWII ended in Italy (in Milano). We will not attend the Palio di Bomarzo later, or the costumed procession that precedes it, for we have taken that in a couple of times and even once is enough: if you ever attend, expect to experience a lot (many hours) of waiting. The Palio itself takes about one minute! It's fun when it does happen, just the same.
I'm awake at 6:30 AM, unable to sleep, so catch up with you and take a look at the lovely scene outside, including plenty of pink and white wisteria continuing to flower below and with little Sofi adoringly by my side.
Somewhat later, after prima colazione (breakfast), Dino helps me to unwrap the painting and pin the top part of the canvas back up on the wooden support in the studio.
With a darkened photograph of the original as a guide, we're aiming for a more historical looking image with more sepia (reddish brown) tones. As soon as Don Francis approves of the photograph, I'll rework the painting.
After some thought, I realize the painting I'd done for him was too contemporary, although quite realistic. So changing it to look more as if it were painted several centuries ago is the right thing for the church. I look forward to Don Francis' email. Till then, I'll relax a bit.
The day is overcast now, but no matter. With plenty of birdsong outside the studio window, I look over at little Sofi, who lies on her side in her polka dot bed and my, how sweet she is!
Earlier, she waited for me to pick her up before walking upstairs. She realizes she's an old doggie, with less pep than she used to have. No matter. I love her dearly and you would, too, if you were here.
Outside, Dino works with the ladder, moving it to make sure the glicine (wisteria) is properly anchored in front of the summer kitchen. Here in the studio window, five or six tomato plants are reaching upward, and although it will be somewhat late to plant them, comé no? (why not?) These are the final seeds left in the heirloom tomato packets, so let's remain hopeful.
After an afternoon nap, Torbjorn and Annika arrive for a short visit, and to tell us about the Palio (horse race) in Bomarzo, which took place today. They don't know which Contrada (neighborhood) won. No matter.
Three neighborhood kids romp around on the far property between our garden and San Rocco, and I ask them to be careful of the five old olive trees. They agree, and are full of fun, but a bit wild. All is well.
I take a few photos of the petti di'angelo, for each year we plan to take photos but forget until the little white blossoms have gone. Yes, they are like little angels. Here you are:
The Peonies are also in bloom -
Yesterday, I painted a bit of background color, and will return to it tomorrow, when Dino takes the train to the hospital in Rome for his eye examination. He does not want me to go with him, saying it will be more complicated, so I'll just take him to the train and pick him up later. Va bene. It will give me the morning to relax and ponder the painting project, although I continue to worry about his failing eyesight.
On cue, I take Dino to the train station in Attigliano, across the Tiber River in the next town, and he's off to Rome for more news about his eyes. He'll call me later when he's on the train coming back, and I'll pick him up.
It's my first time driving PandaRosso, and I like it a lot. I love driving a car with a stick shift, and that's what this one is, although my mind wanders whenever we come across a BMW on our travels.
I drove two BMW automobiles in the distant 1980's and loved them, driving too fast around mountain curves while experiencing a bit of my wild side. Now I just dream about what used to be, and that's fine with me. Then, that's me: the dreamer.
Back at home, it's very early, so I get into bed and read for a while, later having a bit of cereal. I'm certainly not used to being alone, and the silence is a bit deafening. Sofi follows me while I meander about; what my mother used to refer to as "puttering".
Seven tiny planters show tomato seedlings this morning in the studio window. It feels like a miracle! Surely we will have heirloom tomatoes to slice and enjoy this summer.
Don Francis replies to me in a mellower and less judgmental tone, and I'll proceed with a Baroque looking plan. Stay tuned.
Lots and lots of rain continue all day, into evening. The forecast is for rain to continue into tomorrow. It affirms, "April showers bring May flowers..." Speriamo di si! (I hope so!)
It's Sunday and rain continues off and on, mostly off, thank goodness. We're able to drive up to church and see old friends who come here now and then, including a family we love.
It's Vincenza's birthday, so we're able to give her a big hug and auguroni! (big wishes). She's as lovely as ever.
It's great to see Paola, who also looks great as an expectant mother, as well as Tiziano and his family. The twins are adorable, but a bit shy.
We stop at Bar Nando for prima colazione and then shop nearby at Superconti for groceries. Back at home, I'm so happy to see Sofi. I miss her greatly when we're away from her. She's been happy on the terrace, speriamo.
The rest of the day is mellow, with no rain. Dino works on the wisteria, cutting back some long shoots to encourage it to grow more. Does that sound strange to you?
It grows so profusely we're completely covered in front of the house during the summer time due to its shoots and leaves, even after the flowers have finished blooming and drop onto the gravel below.
This weekend is our village festa, but we have no idea what the schedule will be, other than the masses in the late afternoon on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There surely will be lots of fun, although Sofi hates the noise and the blasts from the fireworks.
We watch a really dark Richard Gere movie tonight that is about a year old, and I laugh to myself to think of him looking old...like me? Ha!
Dino wants to go to Montecastrilli this morning to pick up several giganti tomato plants. This variety of really large tomatoes is particularly sweet and delicious to eat all through the summer months. We like to grow them each year.
I would love to find heirloom tomato plants there in Montecastrilli as well, but that's because I'm a dreamer. There aren't any here that we know of in Italy.
Inside the studio window here, however, it seems that we may be fortunate to have as many as seven heirloom tomato plants. Now they're tiny shoots; I'll baby them and hope I don't overdo it. It will be weeks before we're able to plant them in the ground. Let's not stress.
We drive via Amelia and stop for breakfast, meeting Simona at the bar. Sitting together, we catch up and it's wonderful to hear about their lives during the past couple of years.
We'd love to connect you with Simona and her m arvelous language school. Click on this link to find them online:
We pick up the tomato plants, but I'm not sure they are they type we thought we were going to get. It appears they will be red and large...we'll have to wait to find out about the taste and how they will be in salads. Time is what we have a plenty.
Driving across Umbria, the fields are green and roses are happy. At home, the Madame Alfred Carriere and the Lady Hillingdon roses look gorgeous. I'm sheepish to say I cannot remember the name of another rose, growing up on a wall by the caves that reaches up to our neighbor Rosina. If I can find the time (ha!), I'll look in the archives to find the name of the rose, which is quite prolific today. We'll show you a photo soon...
Sofi is fine, and behaved beautifully all morning; right now she's sleeping beside me in her polka dot bed, and its just noon. Soon she'll have pranzo.
On the windowsill, seven tiny sets of heirloom tomato seedlings grow happily facing the sun. How long will it take until they are large enough to plant in the ground? I'm sure it will be a few weeks; hopefully not too late to plant them.
We've agreed on a place in the middle garden to plant today's new tomato plants, but since the large pots are a terra cotta plastic, we'll stage annuals in front of them.
I'm feeling mellow these days about most things; it takes quite a bit to make me angry. Dino, on the other hand, is strong like a lion and shows his emotion; that is a good thing. I do dearly love him.
Dino fixes a breaded pork cutlet for pranzo; yesterday I printed out the recipe and I'm surprised he wants to fix it himself. Va bene.
All is well, and in the afternoon we take a nap, for that is what we do these days, enjoying it quite a bit after a busy morning. I look up a recipe or cookies to make, for our little visiting girlfriends will probably come by to see Sofi and to color later on copy paper that we always have, while I fix a sweet snack for them.
Sofi has indeed turned a corner, and she does not move around a lot, although she remains sweet. It's a bit sad; I love her so!
We're awakened early from our nap by our neighbor across the street, Pia, who arrived with her weed-whacker and created a lot of noise. She is a nice woman, but speaks very loudly and probably is getting her property ready for our village festa this weekend.
On our side of the street, we have not asked Mario to come to weed-whack our property, which is mostly gravel and not really a problem. I'm not going to worry about it. Instead, I get up and return to painting in the studio, while Sofi stretches out in her polka dot bed nearby.
Skies remain colorless, with a long filmy cloud overhead almost indistinguishable. I do notice, however, that in the hills beyond Pia's property toward Mount Soratte, trees have been thinned in a wide triangle, probably for the owner to sell the cut timber for the next winter season's firewood.
I don't remember hearing the noise of that wood cutting; perhaps it happened the day we went to visit Don Francis in Isernia.
I wonder when we are going out with Don and Mary, and Dino tells me it will be tomorrow evening. Isn't that the night of the tree raising in Mugnano? It's always such a fun event as the men carry the huge tree up to the borgo from the forest after cutting it down, moving slowly below our house on Via Mameli.
Thankfully, it's tomorrow. Dino has never participated in the tree carrying, and for that I am thankful. It's very hard work, with the stronger men at the back holding the trunk and the less strong men carrying the top of the tree in front.
With all the noise continuing across the street, I spend time painting. With many suggestions in hand from Don Francis, I play around with the background at the top, and use quite a bit of Ocra Rossa. It's bold and beautiful, but is it perfect? I won't know until it's in the church. Ha!
Yes, Tom Maxwell: "Don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff!" How that phrase has saved my sanity on many occasions. I'm thankful for many things, and this is surely one.
With Pia in town, there's activity across the street, so she'll have friends and relatives here for sure this weekend. Comé no?
Dino calls Mario, who will come probably tomorrow morning to weed-whack. That will be a relief, not that it is a major problem.
Skies remain colorless. Will we have some sun tomorrow? We'll have to wait and see.
Tonight is the night of the annual tree-raising in Mugnano, which is great fun:
If that's not enough, we're going to have pizza with Don and Mary at I Gelsi.
I doubt that our pals will be able to endure the tree-raising event because of health, but we'll watch the beginning on our terrace, as we do each year, with male residents trudging up the Mugnano hill past our house with the tree as they laugh and stop and drink wine every so often. Children play along with the uppermost branches, but the men do the serious lifting. I suppose women could participate, but never do.
We have six tiny peat pots with shoots growing up inside them, so in addition to the four large plants we purchased yesterday, we'll have a few heirlooms if we can baby them into full sized plants and plant them before the strongest sun shines down upon them.
We drive to Viterbo after breakfast to pick up a paint color to use on my current canvas. I needed a color to emulate shade over the color Ocra Rosa. What we pick up is Brown Stil de Grain, but when I sit at the desk to catch up with you, Dino asks me if I'll stay up here and paint all day. What?
With pranzo finished, we take a short nap and read before the men of the village are to appear with the huge tree they have cut down from the nearby forest at the base of Via Mameli where it intersects with the road to the cemetery.
And Alza Maggio is just about to begin! See
So, we're off to meet Don and Mary at I Gelsi for cena, which in my mind means pizza margherita. It will be so good to see our pals, who visit Italy now and then from their hometown of Newcastle, England.
Pizza Margherita is what I always order when we are at I Gelsi with our very dear friends, where the place is surrounded by mature Mulberry trees, hence the name of the restaurant.
Yes, although some things change, many stay the same, which is why we love to come here. The first taste of my crunchy pizza, its flavors wafting up all the way to my subconscious, almost brings tears to my eyes.
What a wonderful way to end a month! We're certainly ready for good weather! Aren't you? We'll write all about the Saturday event...in May!
We will leave you with another few shots of our glorious wisteria in bloom - for rain is forecast and you know where the blooms will go - get out the broom and rake Dino!
My dear friend has plenty of time before he can hang my painting. Since his church restoration is underway, Don Francis expects it to be perfect, and that's fine with me. By now you know I love to paint.
We wait for Mario to leave before eating breakfast. Sofi lies curled up on her little bed like a croissant, amid white polka dots on a red background, although her head is held high at attention. She hates the sounds outside and remains on alert, ever mindful that she is my protettrice (protector).
With Mario gone, the weeds and grass lie all over the campo (field), ready to rake up and burn. It's easy to walk toward San Rocco, the seventeenth century chapel right next to our far property, and the building has not been touched in the almost twenty years we have been coming here.
We'd love to own the tiny chapel and then find a way to raise the money to have it restored, but no matter. The price the Curia wanted for it years ago was too high. We'd restore it as a labor of love and spiritual devotion, and so it sits, untouched and seemingly cherished only by us.
We spend a quiet day at home, with some time doing weeding on the terrace, some time painting and relaxing.
We're up early and pick up Don and Mary in Tenaglie and take them to Fiumicino Airport in Rome for their flight back to Newcastle, England. That's the good news.
The bad news is that Dino left his bag, containing all his credit cards and identification and telephone at home on the kitchen table. He changed his coat at the last minute and forgot to take it. He didn't discover this "senior moment" until we were leaving the airport!
He is so stressed!
We have online tickets to see the Tiziano (Titian) exhibit in Roma at 12 noon. But we will need our ID to pickup the paid for tickets. Also, Dino has a 3:10PM appointment with an Ophthalmologist at the Ospedale Oftalmico in Roma. We decide to return home asap. Luckily we return home without being stopped by the Carabinieri. I don't have my identification either, for mine is in his bag. Sigh!
Ok, we miss the exhibit, but we can do that another time. He really doesn't want to drive back to Roma for the eye appointment. He checks his Train app in the iPhone and sees that there is a train in a few minutes to Roma from Attigliano, the closest town to us. He misses that train, but he sees that there is another one in about a half an hour from Orte. I drop him off at Orte and he is on his way!
Back at home, after I back into the parcheggio (parking space) perfectly (!), Sofi takes a nap in her polka dot bed while I catch up with you and have a yoghourt.
There are several hours before I pick dearest Dino up again this afternoon, so dreamer that I am, I dream my way along until I hear from Dino when and where to pick him up, probably at the Orte train station.
On another day, we'll travel to Rome to the church where the painting of St. Peter of Verona is hung; I am to replicate it for the church in the Molise. There is plenty of time to do that, as the church will undergo a major restoration before it's ready to hang. Va bene!
The day is overcast and a gentle rain fell all morning, but by the time I arrive home, skies have cleared a bit. It's still overcast, but at least there is no rain.
Feeling luxurious, I relax, read, watch television and spend time with Sofi, although the house feels empty without dearest Dino. There is a ringing in my ears that feels so loud; I do miss him greatly and pray that his eye appointment is a good one and that there is a reasonable option that won't cause him great concern.
I should paint, but I just can't, until I know that Dino is all right. Mindless activities are all I can handle right now. His appointment was scheduled from 3-4 PM and it is now 4:15, but appointments often run late in Italy. I tire of awaiting his call.
I call him as he's entering another hospital for an appointment and is stressed, so I won't hear from him for at least another hour. At least I know he is all right. Do remember that it takes longer to get things done in Italy than it does in places like the United States. It's called Tempo Italiano (Italian time)... Viva Italia!
He finally calls around 6 PM from the train. Sofi eats her cena and then we take off in PandaRosso to pick him up. We're ready!
It's so wonderful to see dear Dino, and he drives home while telling me about the appointment he'll have to make early tomorrow in nearby Viterbo for the first of several more eye exams.
Yes, we're growing older, but if we can keep our senses of humor and not lose our tempers too often, we'll be fine. It's not fun growing old, but the journey can be wonderful, albeit a bit challenging. We're up for it, and love living here!
Frank and Candace invite us for cena, and that means movie night. It's always fun, and we always enjoy seeing their garden and what's new. They are great friends.
Tonight we watch a wonderful movie at their house, with Sofi lying on the couch between Frank and me, Dino on a comfy chair to my left, and Candace on the other side of Frank. We're a happy lot, eating freshly popped popcorn and crackers with my mother's special dip.
Originally made more than fifty years ago, the dip's base is softened cream cheese, but add: Worcestershire sauce, blue cheese, chopped Spanish olives with pimentos, lemon juice, chopped fresh sage and I can't remember what else right now, but will look and let you know later. It's a big hit with bagel chips dipped in the mixture.
Back at home there are fireworks, and for the first time Sofi seems to take them in stride.
It's a lovely morning, spent quietly here, with lots of birdsong and happy neighbors greeting each other as they walk past our house on Via Mameli. Gofreddo Mameli wrote the Italian National Anthem, so this little street is named after him.
Later this afternoon will be the annual raising of the tree, so of course we'll watch it. In the meantime, we'll have pranzo and a nap.
We wait until we hear the sounds of children and adults below and they are bringing up a little tree first, later to have the Italian flag hung at the top. Since it is a smaller tree, it is natural that the children will carry it.
The tree is brought up but laid on its side until the huge tree has arrived.
There are so many men congregating in the forest below, and after a while they arrive, with a very long tree (25 meters?) that is not as wide at the trunk as in some other years, although Danilo lifts and moves with the enormous bottom end of it. He is one strong dude!:)
The tree goes through its machinations with three sets of strong metal ladder supports, used to hoist it as it rounds the bend and then is moved up bit by bit until it is sunk into the hole where the tree is always planted, while we all cheer.
In the meantime, a number of young girls spend time with Sofi, petting her and a few even take her around on her lead. She's dear to them, although near the end she turns around and stops, looking at me as if to say she wants to be with me. Va bene.
Dozens of us stand around with cameras, cheering the tree raisers on, and they perform masterfully. Here are a few shots:
We're tired and walk home with Sofi. While Dino carries our sandwiches in a plastic bag, the walk home together is sweet. We spend the rest of the evening watching television and relaxing. It feels so good to be home.
There is church this morning, later than usual, followed by a procession, so Dino takes his Confraternity garb and walks up, while I stay at home in bed with a migraine and Sofi rests next to me on her little bed.
It rains, so there is no procession, but later the two smallest French girls come to draw with me, and present me with one lovely colored drawing by the smallest one. Both girls watch television cartoon stories on television. I don't think they are allowed to watch cartoons at home in France; no wonder they love visiting us!
We are invited to their Mugnano home in the borgo for pranzo and it is lovely, served outside on one of their terraces with a beautiful view of the Mugnano countryside; one that we do not see from our home on the South side of the village. I try to ignore my headache and attend with dearest Dino, for I love their family.
Back at home my headache continues, so I take an icepack with me to bed to help me try to release any tension in my head. Some hours later, just before dark, I arise and Sofi has rested right next to me in her little bed all the while. She is indeed my shadow, my caretaker of sorts. How fortunate I am to be surrounded by love!
Although I'm somewhat in a daze, I do feel better and spend the evening with my dearest Dino and Sofi, the two best pals anyone could dream of having.
Fireworks blast the night skies later as I hold Sofi right next to me. The booming sounds usually hurt her little ears, so she lies next to me on the sofa and with the windows closed I put my hand over one ear while she rests her head on the sofa next to me and she does not shake or cry out or try to run and hide. Perhaps we have done the right thing.
Afterward she's fine while we watch a movie and then she follows me upstairs to get into her little bed next to our bed.
Dino has an early appointment with the doctor in Viterbo, while Sofi and I stay at home. Since Sofi is really my shadow,si, certo!, of course she follows me around.Comé no? (Why not?:)
With plenty of showers during the night, everything is wet outside, but since I'm going to paint inside and the terrace is covered with white gravel, it's no problem taking a look around.
The pink and white wisteria all across the front of the house is surely full of moisture now, causing it to droop even further and lose its glamour. With gloomy skies overhead, it appears we will have a generally droopy day.
Inside the studio window four tiny pots of seedlings try to stretch toward the sun...but since the sky is gray and cloudy, there's not much brightness before 9 AM.
Birdsong and more birdsong chattering continues as though the birdies are singing the silly song from Music Man where the women chatter... "Pic, pic, pic a little..." in a gossipy way. Is there such a thing in the bird world as bird etiquette? Ha...Ha!
It's time to paint, at least until Dino returns, so I don my paint smock and return to studying the images on the large canvas in the studio while Sofi sleeps like a croissant in her polka dot bed; outside a rooster crows.
I take a stab at listening to YouTube/Italy just before painting and understand about twenty-five percent of a comedic video; enough to get the gist of it. How the Italians love comedy!
I remember to listen to music while I paint, so while Sofi sweetly snores as only she can, I put on some classical music and swoon while I paint. Yes, I am such a dreamer!
We really need to return to the church in Rome where the painting of St. Peter of Verona is hung. There are many details that I must study, and the copies of copies that I have do not do the images justice.
The good news with the painting medium I am using is that oil paints are wonderful; it is simple to paint right over oil paints with other oil paints to perfect any details. The word simple is not a good use of the word here; one can paint over oil colors, but just how one does it effectively is a matter of conjecture.
Dearest Dino takes me to Orte to Giusy's studio for a pedicure in the morning, and since I love blue, my toenails are painted a Prussian blue. No one seems to notice, not even Sofi, but I like the color a lot.
As I sit at the desk to write this, outside the window on a far hill I see that many trees have been cut, leaving much earth in the view in one triangle shape of the hill. That means that tree cutters have left a tree here and there when cutting, and that is a good thing.
The rest of the hill is lush, so they've only cut one pie slice shaped section near the top of the hill facing us (North). We face South, and are so fortunate to have a South-Southwest facing view.
What's that sound I hear? It's more rain, gentle 'tho it may be. The sound of it creates another layer of sound behind the symphony music on the classical radio station.
We sometimes listen to a radio station that plays all prerecorded music, so I hear the same classical music day after day if I tune the station in to classical music, but no matter. Some of the tones are just gorgeous! No need to fret:)
Here's Emanuela's latest Italian lesson...
Finally, my usual "private Italian classes": "prima colazione" is not used in Italian, as we don't have a "seconda colazione". We simply say "colazione", being "pranzo" and "cena" the other two meals. This is correct in French, to distinguish the "petite dejeuner" from the "dejeuner".
I wonder what happens when French folks eat a large breakfast. Would they still call it a "petite dejeuner"?
The morning begins overcast, but clears somewhat later. Today is a lazy day, and since I've had a headache for a couple of days, I've lain down with an icepack behind my head twice in the last 48 hours.
Finally the headache has cleared. It's as if a weather front has come and gone, squeezing my head as it passed by. I've had headaches since childhood, but that does not mean I know how to send them on their way, or better, to avoid them altogether. I've even spent time at a famous headache clinic in Perugia; still they appear now and then. Sigh!
After a long nap in the afternoon and some reading in bed, we get up to see...a rainbow! The sky behind the clouds is oh; so blue...
Dogs are supposed to age seven years for each one of theirs, hence the phrase, "dog years..." so that means she'll be seventy next week in human terms. Oh, how I love her!
I have not painted for a couple of days, but will surely return to painting tomorrow. I do love painting, but have less energy these days than before. At least we enjoy the days as they pass us by. Sofi is not the only one beginning to show her age.
Dino and I return to the hospital in Viterbo for another test for him, which turns out fine. We will travel to Rome in a few days for yet another test, and perhaps to fix his eyesight.
Yes, he can drive, although he does have some sight issues at night. Thankfully, we don't really go out much at night, unless it's somewhere nearby.
On this lovely and sunny morning, Silvia arrives right on time at 9 AM to groom Sofi's hair. Silvia is very loving with Sofi, yet does the stripping so necessary for our dear little doggie. Sofi is a mini wire-haired daushund, and it is that wirehair that needs stripping every several weeks or so.
About twenty minutes after Silvia has begun the grooming work on her portable grooming table that has been set up on our terrace, I look out the window to see Sofi's tail wagging back and forth. It must make her feel good. Either that, or it is because she loves Silvia, and no wonder. Silvia is very kind and loving.
Birds continue to chirp, even as Dino walks by the two of them, causing Sofi to weep for just a bit. As soon as he's out of sight, she is fine. Well, she's always a bit dramatic when being groomed, but then that's Sofi's nature. I love her so!
I remain out of their sight, painting in the studio while classical music plays on the radio. Yes, it's the same old music. I'm such a dreamer that I don't pay a lot of attention to it but love to have it as background music.
But then, when a particular piece of music plays, I stop to dance in my head along with the waltz or a special piece that I love. No, Toni Braxton is not on this station, but I do remember her song, "Un-break my Heart!" and singing it years ago when driving like a speed demon on the curvy roads of Mount Tamalpais above San Francisco, where we lived for a number of years.
That seems so long ago!
Our lives are here, so we'll probably see you here before we see you in San Francisco. There are no current plans to travel there this Thanksgiving, or at any other time. We'll be here for eternity and beyond, we suspect, as our joint cemetery plot in the local cemetery is secure.
Meanwhile Dino, always the project manager, decides that today he'll cut back the wisteria glicine that grows like a forest in front of our house, as if it's a scene out of the book, Green Mansions. What great shade it gives us when we need it, and since we face South/Southwest, we really need it during hot summertime weather.
He tells me he needs me as he clips the wisteria back while up on a ladder on the balcony. I stand beside the ladder and catch the cut wisteria, putting the cuttings in a barrel; he will later burn them. Wisteria grows like a weed, but then, isn't it a kind of weed? I'm not sure of that one.
Sofi lies in her polka dot bed just staring at me, surely waiting for her pranzo while Dino finishes the project by using the vacuum cleaner in the area on the terrace around the balcony to pick up the small dried petals. What a guy!
Oh, how I love listening to the same old music on the classical station. There is plenty of violin music, which is my favorite, and I play the violin in my dreams, which is the only place I'm able to play it these days. It has been many years since I was able to play the violin for real. Ha! In my dreams!
It's Thursday, and as far as I know we have nothing else planned today. That's how I like it. As much as I love having my friends here, I'm such a dreamer that with Sofi by my side and Dino meandering around the property, I could not be happier. Then Dino tells me that Stein and guests will come by later for a visit. Va bene!
I've sent an email to our son, Terence, and his dear wife, Angie, for the grand daughter's updated measurements, for I'm happy to make new costumes for them for their birthday. We are told that they still wear the ones I made for them last time. Since I have the painting for the church to finish, designing and sewing clothes is not my highest priority, although I'll always try to find time to fit a bit of it in. Perhaps this year we'll purchase dresses for them online instead.
The painting is a challenge, and I tell myself that I'm up for it. I welcome the challenge and will be honored to see the painting hung on the ceiling of the church in Italy, although the church is undergoing restoration and it will be some time before they are ready to hang it.
Let's not tarry...just the same. It is a complex project, and it must be worthy of this centuries-old church. I spend another hour or so on it and then fix pranzo. I'm already dreaming of a nap afterward...
Would you believe pizza for pranzo in Italia? Comé no? We cook a packaged pizza with tuna in the regular oven on a pizza stone and it tastes quite good. With a green salad it is even a great meal.
Afterward, a few more touches on the painting and then a nap, for later Stein and a friend will come by, hopefully for a brindisi (toast) of prosecco and a walk around to see the roses. Sofi will love to see him!
In the meantime, I'll paint a bit more.
Stein and his friends arrive for a short visit and of course Sofi is delighted to see her friend, Stein.
The rest of the evening is mellow.
We've ordered Mother's Day flowers sent to Angie in San Francisco, hoping they'll arrive today her time. We love our San Francisco family and miss them.
This morning is overcast, but there is a forecast of sun brought by a neighbor who tells us our property looks incantata (like a song?) with all the flowers. What a lovely thing for her to say! Mille grazie!
Yes, we do have plenty of roses, even though most of the wisteria has shed its flower petals. But then, what's that?
Oh! We purchased a purple wisteria plant a bit later than the first pink and white wisteria. The pink and white variety at our favorite vivai (greenhouse) was out of stock, and it was planted in another bottomless terra cotta planter facing the borgo. Now it is blooming, so what an extended gift!
Dino reads the water meter for the water company and sends in the reading. What a good boy!
He leaves for Viterbo, hoping to make another medical appointment and tells me I don't need to be with him. So Sofi and I stay at home. She's sleeping in her polka dot bed while classical music plays, and is surely a dreamer, just like me! Let's hope her dreams are all sweet, just like her.
Do I paint or do I read now? I'm feeling heady, as though a headache is going to appear, so let's lie down for a bit instead of painting to see if it clears. Surely Sofi will be by my side all the while.
I want to continue to paint, but if I do not take care of this impending headache, I won't be able to do anything for at least a day. I hope you understand. Thank you for your patience.
Dino will return from Viterbo with a roast chicken from COOP, so there will be nothing to prepare except for a salad. Bless him!
Someone below us in the valley is making a loud noise, somewhat like a weed-whacker. It continues on and on, so I close the window in the studio facing it.
After a wonderful and simple pranzo, there's time for a nap and a bit of reading before going out to visit friends for cena(dinner). Skies remain cloudy; we expect rain off and on for the next week. Sigh. The flowers will be happy...but also will the weeds!
We're up early and drive to Terni to pick up a special beauty product for my hair that we have found there in a large and economic size.
After stopping in Bomarzo for colazione, Dino expertly drives to Terni, and although I'm dreaming about stopping and shopping at Marcelloni, the big fabric store in town, I keep quiet about it. Now is not the time. Last night we were left a bag of assorted fabric pieces by our French pals. That will keep me busy for a while.
We stop at a gastronomia and Dino picks out some delicious things for pranzo, and then drive home, where we heat delicious slices of pizza margherita. Later, there will be plenty of food left for Dino to have for cena.
We have a long trip to a garden in Scansano this afternoon. I'll perhaps write it up for Italian Notebook. Comé no?
To get there is a long drive, but a beautiful one, through the countryside of Lazio and then enter into Toscano (Tuscany) to Scansano. Friends who own the property, take us around. Their property is a dream.
The visit is one planned by the Mediterranean Garden Society, of which we are members. If you are not a member but enjoy and appreciate gardens and gardening, perhaps its time for you to look them up. There are branches all over the world, though the society is based in Greece.
Here are some of the gorgeous clouds above us this afternoon.
Skies clear but there are lovely clouds in a cerulean blue sky. Oh, how we love it here!
Sofi sleeps while we drive up to church. Don Angelo greets me when he arrives, for I sit on the aisle in the second row. Rosita and I are the onlycoro (choir) members on this morning, but no matter. It all works out. The special intention for today's Mass is the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Ernesta & Mario. Here's part of the family,
Afterward, there are neighbors and babies to greet; then we drive to Il Pallone for colazione (breakfast) and to shop for groceries. I no longer speak of prima colazione, since the first word is not necessary. It has taken me all this time to figure that out!:) If you recall, Emanuela wrote this explanation and it was included earlier in this month's journal.
Back at home, there is a simple pranzo to fix; then Dino remains by the television to watch his beloved Formula-1 race, while Sofi and I return upstairs to check in with you and then to dream. Dino records the race, takes a nap, and then watches the prerecorded race.
Later, there will be a little party celebrating the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Ernesta and Mario in the borgo, and we may walk up there with Sofi. I'd take her everywhere, but she's not welcomed everywhere. Sigh. It' a dog thing.
While we rested there was rain, but not the thunderstorm that was predicted. Later the sky is covered with layers and layers of clouds, with a bit of blue sky peeking through.
Dino asks me if I'd like to walk up to the borgo with him later, but I tell him I'd rather stay home. Since there are lots of dark clouds overhead, he agrees with me, so no partying for us tonight.
Thank God it's not Friday! Yes, I am a superstitious sort, but you knew that already.
After breakfast, Dino leaves for Viterbo to pick up results for his recent medical tests and shop for pranzo. Sofi rests in her new little bed next to me and oh, how I love her!
She and I have been out in the garden, tidying up the roses on the rose arch. It's a very peaceful day, and not hot, so just about everything is a joy.
Silence returns late morning, the weed-wackers finished, with only bird sounds to remind us how heavenly life is, especially here. This is only a little village, but its residents' generosity of spirit and neighborliness is a treasure one cannot buy. We are so blessed.
Yes, we miss Terence and Angie and Marissa and Nicole a great deal; they've chosen their lives to be in San Francisco, at least until the girls grow up, and if one could not live here, San Francisco seems the next best place to spend one's life. We surely enjoyed our lives spent there many years ago.
Life is so full that it's difficult to choose what to do next on this sunny morning. Sofi looks up at me from her new bed, which propels her back at an angle but appears very comfortable. She still loves her old polka dot bed, but I think it's lost its entire poof. Let's see how the next few days affect her spot in the new bed.
The baby heirloom tomato seedlings have all dried up, and no matter what I have tried, they haven't gained any strength. No matter. We just won't have heirloom tomatoes this year. Life goes on...
After pranzo, Dino leaves for appointments and I find Sofi sleeping in her polka dot bed beside me in the studio, instead of in her new bed. Sigh. At least she's content.
I experience five bouts of pain in my chest; mistakenly thinking it's my heart. So when Dino returns, he takes me to Pronto Soccorso (the emergency room) at the Orvieto hospital.
Since I'm now a citizen, as well as being "of a certain age", the treatment does not cost anything! I have an electrocardiogram and am asked lots of questions, but it's just a pain in my sternum. The doctors are certain that I have no heart problem. What a relief!
We're back at home and with dearest Sofi for the evening, watching our favorite television programs and so relieved about yet another reason to live out our lives in Italy. Despite any challenges, we do love it here.
I take Dino to the train station quite early, for he has medical appointments in Rome and wants to travel there alone by train. He will change at Tiburtina and then arrive two stops later at his destination.
Sofi and I take a nap, getting up at around 10 AM. Olav arrives for a short visit soon after and tells me he'll be here all summer. I'm missing MayElin but she is still working in Norway...
I think Dino will be home for pranzo but he calls at 11 AM to tell me he's still there, I think having more tests.
Sofi tries to chase lizards, which she thinks are hiding under the big rectangular pots where the gigantic pomodori are growing. The pots sit atop tufa bricks, and she sniffs and wags her tail all around.
I still don't understand their fascination, for she does not eat them. Perhaps it is because they are small and wiggle from side to side that they are fun for her to watch.
She remains outside in the sun while I catch up with you. I'm a bit worried about my dearest Dino, but know they will take very good care of him at the hospital in Rome.
I don't feel like painting, sorry, so read my kindle instead with Sofi resting nearby. Now there is not a cloud in the sky. What a lovely day!
I pick up Dino in the afternoon and his exams in Rome were good, with results coming soon.
Back at home things are mellow, especially after a long nap and some gardening. We spend the evening quietly and peacefully.
On this lovely morning, I'm so happy to be alive and living out my life on the edge of this tiny and marvelous village in Central Italy.
Birdsong continues all morning, and although the skies are cloudy and forecasts are for rain almost every day for the next week, Sofi and I spend time on the terrace under clear skies while Dino drives to Guardea to pick up some keys. No rain yet!
Sofi meanders around nearby, while I pull weeds and deadhead roses. There are so many roses that I don't deadhead them all, especially those high up on walls and arbors where I cannot reach them. Dino will need to help with those, and I'm sure he will, based on past years. What a guy!
Dino has the camera with him, and I'm hoping he'll take photos of the roses when he returns, or give the camera to me to do that. But I'm such a dreamer that I don't know if I can be trusted. Ha! I cut some my favorite roses and put them in a vase.
I notice great bunches of oval plums growing on the plum tree thriving on the terrace, and my mouth almost waters at the thought of summer joy when we pick them. Some of them even get to the basket before the pickers eat them!:)
I'm having warnings of a headache to come, based on the weather front and barometric pressure. I've taken 1000 mg. of tachiprina (aspirin), but without the onset of a migraine, there's no reason to take difmetre. One can only hope things stay the same.
Whatever will we have for pranzo? Dearest Dino likes to decide, so I'll wait to hear back from him to do anything, while breezes billow in the gauze curtains of the open window facing South in the studio.
Dino returns with groceries, so I fix pranzo and we take a nap; then he gets up and drives to Guardea to meet a couple staying in Tenaglie to help them. There is a fireplace where they are staying, so it's as good a place as any to sit by the fire and read if it rains outside.
Yesterday was Sofi's birthday...or is it today? We're traveling to Orvieto to Candace and Frank's for a special pranzo and she'll be adorned with either a special ribbon or her MacFarlane plaid dress. We'll see. The wind whips all the flowers and trees and rain decimates the gorgeous roses. Well, they were gorgeous, but don't know if they'll be at their peak when the rain and wind stops. No, we did not take photos, purtroppo. Let's not worry about it. They will bloom again...
Sofi and I are ready for Dino to pick us up to take us to Candace and Frank's. We spend the evening there with our dear pals, and are so honored that Candace has prepared seven pomodori plants for us to grow here. I think they are from heirloom seeds, but am not sure. We will see. Thank you so very much, dear friends.
Seventy-nine snails is my haul for this morning from the terrace in front of the house, after a night of rain. Although no rain remains at just before noon, dark clouds cover the landscape. No, we do not eat snails from the garden, although they always appear after a good rain. Yikes!
Dino leaves for shopping and errands in PandaRosso, while Sofi remains by my side, now in her Country Bed, one that I think we purchased a year or so ago in France. It's a perfect size for her.
With plenty of birdsong outside, I'm wondering just what to do. There is plenty of ironing of sheets and things waiting for me right here, so while I watch a bit of television in the studio, I put up the ironing board and put away more things.
Yes, I'd love to paint and to sew, but it's almost noon, so it does not make sense to begin a new project now. Oh, how these days are all sweet, no matter the weather. Thank you so, heavenly Father, for giving us this marvelous life in the autumn of our years.
Later in the evening I receive a call from my brother, Mike, and what a surprise that is! I'm so happy to reconnect with him; he responded to an earlier email from me. Thanks so much, Mike!
I do hope Mike and Marti will come for a visit, but don't know when. It probably will be a while before Marti can travel, so we send our love to them just the same.
With joy in my heart, I catch up with you and then turn in with my dearest love, Dino, whose formal name is Roy. Italians don't understand the use of the letter "y", so he's been called Dino for many years. Comé no? (Why not?)
My message to my brother has been returned undelivered. I've emailed his employer to see if they can help. After all this time, I really want to connect with him on an ongoing basis.
The morning is so very beautiful and mild. I spend a good bit of it working on the roses, clipping off spent blossoms and giving the rest of the blossoms room to grow.
In the meantime, Dino plants little basil plants that he purchased yesterday, on each side of the tomato plants in the large planter on the terrace. It is easy to take care of them there, and growing basil plants next to tomato plants is a good thing. Let's always remain hopeful. Thanks.
Ever by my side, dearest Sofi enjoys the terrace and the lovely morning sun. Thankfully, it is not hot on this May morning.
Dino puts a pasta dish in the oven, for there was more than we could eat a day or so ago, so heating it up in the oven with grated cheese is a good thing, especially when there is plenty of sugo (or sauce) to adorn it with.
Birdsong is everywhere, and although a weed-wacker in the valley made a lot of noise this morning, it is tranquil. Italians take great care of their land, for the most part.
We are so fortunate to be living out our lives here in this gentle and loving country. Since I don't believe in judging my fellow man/woman, it's a special place to live.
The only thing I have trouble with is all the crime shows on television. I don't mind the story plots now and then, but what is the fascination with crime shows? Is it supposed to keep us all aware of how vigilant we must be in living good lives and respecting our neighbors? The crime shows are as popular here as they are in the United States, and probably in other parts of the world. What a sad commentary!
Sofi lies on a painted floor mat in front of the open window of the studio while I catch up with you. How very dear she is!
Sun and clouds fill the sky, but it is warm. Sofi waits in her little bed while we drive up to church, then shop in Il Pallone for groceries and have colazione
Back at home, there's a simple pranzo to have and then a long nap, where we each read our kindles. Sofi sleeps in her little bed by my side of our bed.
It's after 6 PM when I get up, but Dino has already planted the tomato starts that we were generously given to us by our Orvieto pals. Since none of my seeds turned into anything, I'm grateful, and now must purchase seeds for years to come. We always start seeds during the late wintertime; seeds that mature into delicious fruit for summertime eating.
All afternoon the wonderful chimes have serenaded us to sleep. Now, the few pale clouds in the sky portend a good day tomorrow. Since I'm usually optimistic, that's a wonderful sign.
I'm still having trouble reconnecting with my brother. Mike, if you read this, email me, please. I do miss you and think of you and Marti often. Hugs to you both.
Let's spend the rest of the evening quietly in front of the TV.
Some clouds, dark and white here and there, float by to the East, toward Orte. We will plant more tomatoes in a long rectangular pot on the terrace where we can watch them grow and easily pick them when ripe during summertime. There are six different types. Yum!
I hold up a bamboo pole, positioned across the long poles, while Dino wraps rubber twine where they meet. There! We now have a more stable structure for the six plants.
Weather is somewhat cool, although it's late enough in May that temperatures should be much warmer. No matter. I feel a storm coming on...
There's so much to do in the garden at this time of year, especially grooming the roses and pulling weeds, although we have mostly nursery cloth underneath white pea gravel. I tend a couple of the roses, then come in to catch up with you and plan our day.
A bit earlier, Dino snapped at me, but I'm trying to learn not to take his action too seriously. He's a serious guy and focuses on one thing at a time, while I, the dreamer, work closely with him but can't help dreaming along while I act as his "Stepinfetchit"! Let's be mellow.
Will it rain today? Clouds now look a bit ominous. Online weather tells us it will rain off and on in the area for the next ten days. Sigh.
Candace has started five types of seeds in paper towel holder pieces, what a good idea! Dino plants them in a rectangular planter after we add special food to the holes in which the plants will sit and grow. He prepared the holes earlier this morning. What a guy!
We have breaded pork cutlets for pranzo and are so ready for a nap! The temperature is still cool, with clouds streaming by as if someone has played around with a white magic marker, zipping back and forth here and there, using clouds for white ink. This is such a fun and funny place to live. No wonder Italians are known for their great senses of humor!
Earlier, Dino purchased more basil plants, and we've planted them behind the five tomato plants in one of the oblong planters. It's always good to plant basil around tomato plants; it adds to the flavor, and what is better than freshly sliced tomatoes from the garden, topped with mozzarella and fresh basil to go with a noontime or evening meal?
After a long nap and reading from our kindles, he's off again to the store and to oversee a project for a neighbor and good friend. He's like his father in this way: he likes to be kept busy. I'm the opposite...a dreamer, although I'm always working on one project or another. Yes, that's me catching up with you while Don Francis' unfinished painting looks over at me.
A shot rings out from the valley, and I try to ignore it. It's that hunting thing; hunters and their rifles are a necessary occurrence in Italy. Luckily they don't bother us.
Did you know that hunters in Italy are allowed legally to come onto your property without permission if they are chasing their prey, usually a deer or a rabbit? That never happens here, but it does happen to neighbors who have more property than we have.
Skies are colorless, due to a grey cloud cover. It's also cool for this part of May. Wonder what that means for summertime heat? We'll let you know later...
Earlier, I researched pizza recipes, and think that this weekend we'll have our first pizza night here with Frank, Candace, Penny, Bob, Stein and of course Sofi. We'll be ready!
This morning's weather is quite cloudy and grey. If we have a pizza night this week, it will have to be on Friday, based on weather reports.
Dino drives to Viterbo, while Sofi and I stay at home. I really must work on the painting, but let's have colazione first! With dearest Sofi always by my side, she sits at attention as if she's imagining some one may come by unexpectedly.
After a lovely cup of lemon tea, I walk outside with Sofi by my side to see what damage has occurred to the many roses on our terrace. It's time to clean a lot of them up, so along with weeding here and there, I move from one plant to another.
I remember dearest Sarah Hammond's lessons of gardening, especially to pull off any leaves with black spots and throw them in the garbage, not in the cuttings that are later burned. There are many leaves with black spots, so I pull those off first, then cut back any spent rose flowers back to the nearest five-petaled leaf. Yes, dear Sarah, I remembered.
The forecast is for a nice day, but even at noon it remains overcast and cool, as if it's April and not the third week of May. I dressed warmly earlier and Sofi wears her natural fur coat, so we are fine.
The forecast is for Friday to be a clear and good weather day, but not for Saturday. I'm imagining we should hold off on pizza night for at least a week. We'll see what Dino has to say about it when he returns from Viterbo.
I'm looking forward to an afternoon nap in bed and reading there, after making pranzo. Oh, how lazy I feel, and the weather has a lot to do with it! Perhaps Dino will bring back a roast chicken and that will be tasty with basmati rice, or I'll make a pasta.
When Dino returns, he has a chicken and it tastes great with the basmati rice I fix with a bit of butter. Dino likes it that way.
After a long nap, for it's cool and dreary outside, we watch television and relax. I've worked on the roses some more, but they'll have more droopiness with more moisture on the way, sadly. I love them, anyway.
There'll be no pizza nights for a couple of weeks, either. Let's hope the weather turns around...soon! Good thing we're not feeling dreary!:)
Rain; lots of rain greets us this morning. It does not seem like May at all, more like early April.
After breakfast, Dino leaves to check on properties for clients and projects seemingly waterlogged. Sofi and I return to bed while I read and she snoozes. It's the best way to spend a soggy and damp morning.
SDA Courier arrives with a package just as he's entering the parcheggio. What could it be? Later Dino tells me it's a special vitamin supplement (Lutein) for his eyes. Let's be positive that it will help him!
I've prepared pranzo and have it ready, so we sit down and have a lovely one while watching a special television program. I know. We should not watch television while we eat. But there we are, Americanized as can be, hooked by the programs we love to watch and loving to watch them while we eat. Shame on us!
The day continues cool, and although it's almost 3 PM when we finish eating our midday meal, there is no sign of sun on the horizon...or anywhere. That means an afternoon cuddled in bed, and what's wrong with that?:)
I imagine that perhaps Spring will be ignored altogether, but at 9 PM when catching up with you I look out to see a gorgeous full moon in a clear dark blue sky. Anything's possible!
It's mostly sunny this morning, but cool. Later in the morning, more clouds roll by and wind picks up. It surely does not feel like the end of May!
Dino drives off to meet folks and do errands, while Sofi snoozes in her little bed and I catch up with you. If we had lemons, I'd make a lemon drizzle cake. Since lemons are on the list, I'll make the cake later if they wind up in Dino's shopping bag.
While waiting for dearest Dino's return, we catch up on the news. While I look out the window, I see that the persimmon tree on our front terrace is sprouting plenty of leaves. How shady our terrace will be under the hot sun this summer! That is, if we have a hot summer. Right now, it does not look like it.
Tonight, there's a full moon in a cloudy sky. It's quite cool, so there's no chance of hot sun for at least a week, or so I imagine. But what do I know?:)
We watch a children's movie about Madeline, and are sure that Marissa and Nicole have seen it. She's a modern day Shirley Temple, I think. We like the movie quite a bit, then move on to more senior fare.
Angie's birthday is coming up, and we're sure she will celebrate. Let's hope her gift arrives in time.
It's Saturday, and there's nothing on the agenda. It's a good thing, for the weather is less than optimo, although there is no sign of rain. It's quite cool, with clouds floating by.
After colazione, Dino leaves for errands and Sofi and I return to the studio to catch up with you and look online for birthday gifts for the grand daughters...and they are grand! What do nine-year old girls like to receive for presents? My guess is pretty dresses...
Although skies are a beautiful blue with floating clouds above at just before noon, it feels quite cool here, and I'm thinking pasta will be the best thing to eat for pranzo. Va bene!
Sofi rests nearby in her polka dot bed wearing her natural fur coat, seemingly just waiting for her own pranzo. Oh, how I love her.
There is pasta to fix, and that's a good idea, for the temperature is quite cool; it feels like early, early Spring. Brrrrr.
Pranzo is delicious, and it's followed by the Formula-1 trials in Monte Carlo on television. Of course Dino is glued to the set. Meanwhile, Sofi and I return upstairs, to catch up with you and capture a few zzz's. Ha!
We end the evening quietly, wearing sweaters to stave off the chill.
There's church this morning, with Don Angelo smiling as usual. Although the tiny twin girls are present with their dear parents, Tiziano and Alessia, they are a bit noisy. Nonna Rosita looks lovely in an embroidered sweater and turns around whenever the girls have something to say.
After church there is a trip to Al Pallone for breakfast and shopping. Back at home it is quiet cool, and although I weed a bit in the garden, I'd rather be inside.
Friends staying in Guardea have problems, and of course Dino is to the rescue, finding a plumber to fix them. He's so good at that!
The weather has been cool and somewhat wet for a week, with no sun expected for a while. Usually at this time, we have plenty of sun!
Sadly, the rain has taken its toll on the roses; no matter how I spray them with alcohol and water, snails and little bugs return to the garden with gusto. This is their favorite type of weather. Sigh!
Dino and I drive to the hospital in Viterbo to pick up test results that are supposed to be ready, but they are not. Perhaps they will be ready in a day or two. Welcome to Italia!
The weather is still cool and overcast. Whenever will this inclement weather end? Back at home, I'm looking forward to a long nap under the covers and reading.
I fix pranzo and then we have a long nap. I can't figure out what is wrong with the weather.
It's Tuesday, and begins with the three of us driving to Viterbo to pick up Dino's test results, stopping in Bomarzo for colazione. At the hospital, Sofi and I wait in the car and I read while Dino finds the office that has the results and waits for them. All is well for now.
We stop at MacDonald's for a quick pranzo, just for fun, although it is early.
As soon as we arrive home, Dino has a meeting here with David regarding someone's project, and because he speaks Italian pretty well, at least better than I do, the meeting goes well in our kitchen, with Sofi and I upstairs in the studio.
The weather forecast is sunny, yet the sky tells us otherwise, with clouds streaking all across the sky in shades of gray. It also feels quite cool. No matter. That means good sleeping weather continues, and plenty of time to read in bed.
Although dearest Sofi rushed downstairs to bark at David before the meeting began, she was soon docile and friendly and back upstairs with me. Now she waits in her polka dot bed, eyes not quite closed and open at any sign of noise. Soon we'll all take a long nap, speriamo.
Today is the anniversary of my dear departed mother's birth. She and JFK shared the same birthday; both are memorable in their own way and to those of us still here, both sadly have passed away.
With plenty of clouds in the sky, the temperature seems quite cool, perhaps enhanced by plenty of breezes. The clouds are gorgeous in their own way, fleeting across the sky as if they are heading off to Rome for an appointment, like Dino.
I've slept in later than usual, feeling as though I could sleep and read all day. Perhaps I'll do just that, with nothing planned other than taking Dino to the train to Rome for yet another test.
With dearest Sofi by my side, all is mellow. There is nothing to do, so my little pal and I snuggle and sleep and I read in my kindle. It's a lazy day, with the day passing before I know it.
Dino calls a couple of times, and in the last call tells me what time to pick him up in Orte at the train station. More trains stop in Orte than in nearby Attigliano, so I try to decide whether to bring Sofi with me when I drive south. I love her, so perhaps she'll come with me. Comé no?
Sofia is my shadow, so is almost always by my side; she and I like it that way. I'm not so sure how Dino feels about it, but they love each other, too. I am sure of that.
At half past eight skies are still blue, with pastel pink and lavender clouds floating by. I think she should stay at home, however, for it will be dark when I leave, and more comfortable for her in the comfy kitchen.
I pick up my dearest Dino in Orte and we return home to Sofi and relax for the rest of the evening.
Dino has to take a very early train to Rome again this morning, so Sofi and I take him to the train station at Attigliano, and he tells me he'll be home for pranzo.
Since he'll return on the train to Viterbo, Sofi and I drive there to pick him up, and we eat at a MacDonald's (how American!) and then drive home for naps. He waited for an hour at the hospital (Gemelli) and then was seen by four eye doctors. I am worried about my dear pal.
Back at home all is well and it is time for a nap. It has been cloudy off and on all day, but there has been no rain. The temperature has been cooler than usual. So what happened to Spring?
Dino has a couple of local meetings but is home in an hour or two. We spend the rest of the evening relaxing before the TV.
I ask him how he thinks things went in Rome, and it will be ten days or so before there is another test; a sonogram of his eye. Stay tuned?
And just when I think another month is ending in our little paradise, I realize that May has 31 days, so let's see what tomorrow brings.
Pale blue skies with clouds floating by greet us. Dino has a busy morning...
It feels quite cold when we awake, so I put on a vest and Sofi and I languish on the couch, watching "W.E." a movie about Wallis Simpson and King Edward.
Yes, I do believe that "love conquers all!"
While Dino does his errands, I search online for train tickets to Florence to meet a cousin of mine from the U.S. in a couple of weeks. The site is so complicated that we'll just go to the local train station and buy our tickets there. Although we're Italian citizens and have lived here for more than ten years, life here can still be quite complicated.
Might as well take out my Kindle and read until Dino returns. It's past noon, so he must have a lot happening.
Dino arrives with a roast chicken and other good things. What a guy! I make some rice, and although it is basmati rice, I add a bit of butter and it is delicious. Thanks, Dino, for coming up with the idea to add butter when making basmati rice. I know to add it when fixing other types of rice.
Afterward we take a nap; then Dino leaves for errands. Sofi and I languish in the bedroom and I read while she rests like the little croissant of the dog world she is. How adorable she is, especially then, curled up with her head down, snoring just a bit while lying in her polka dot bed.
I love my Kindle. Today I hope to read and read and read some more; that is, unless I fall asleep, which I usually do when it is cool, and it is today. Where is the lovely warm weather we have at this time of year?
Goodbye, May 2013!
We watch a movie on television this morning and then I fix chicken risotto for pranzo. I am known for my skill in making risotto, so know it will come out well, and it does.
Because it remains cool, Sofi and I are looking forward to a nap. Dino leaves to take Stein to Castello Santa Maria to perform a wedding there, and so Sofi and I get a head start on him in the sleep department, although Dino hates the idea of Sofi on the bed, even if she only rests on top of the down comforter.
Perhaps by now, magari! (if only it were so...), he will let her stay on top of the bed while we take our naps when he returns.
I take out my Kindle and read with dearest Sofi by my side. I worry about her, for she is ten, although she acts just fine. Let us pray for her continued good health. I love her so!
Dino returns and is not happy finding Sofi on the top of the bed, so I move her on the outside next to me and put my arm around her, where she snuggles and snores, just a bit. She's on top of the comforter and away from dearest Dino, where she remains for a couple of hours, while we all try to sleep.
At about 6 PM it's time to get up, although it's still quite cool. Grey clouds seem to sit still overhead, with only a bit of blue peeking through here and there.
I catch up with you tonight while Sofi rests nearby in her polka dot bed and Dino watches television downstairs. Across the Mugnano valley, vegetation is filling in the once bare hill with trees and trees and more trees. The rain of the past few months has added to the greenness of it all.
Has it been four weeks since Silvia has been here to groom Sofi? I think our dear doggie will be fine for a couple more weeks, for the weather remains cool. It's in the heat of summer here that she suffers.
We end the evening with a bit of a headache for me, but happiness that all is well with our family.
Pal Frank has been praising the benefits of flavonoids for years, it seems. He keeps sending us links to information about them. What are they, anyway? Well, I read that flavonols are the predominant pigments of onions. So eat plenty of onions? I like to caramelize them, which takes the strong smell and taste out of them, so wonder if that will have the same effect. Stay tuned. Ha!
Today is the Fest di Corpus Domini. Since there is no formal Coro anymore in little Mugnano, it will not matter to me, although there still is the Confraternità di San Liberato, of which Dino is a proud member. He'll dress in his red and blue habit for church, and will probably carry a staff with a lantern on top.
My headache continues, so for the first time in recent memory, I do not join him in attending the mass, as well as my former Coro buddies.
I learn that the turnout in church was small, purtroppo (too bad), when I rise to join my dearest for pranzo, which consists of the heating of a piece of a premade lasagna, purchased from a local market and the traditional caprese of sliced tomatoes, sliced buffala mozzarella, fresh basil with olive oil and a bit of vinegar on top. The tomatoes are the variety cui di buio, and are a large and pale red variety with lots of ridges and quite tasty.
Eating a bit is a good idea, and although my headache remains, it is quite reduced. I return to bed with an ice pack under my head and Sofi in her polka dot bed on the floor next to me. After a bit, Dino joins me for a rest.
We're going to have a great crop of plums this season. It looks like there will more than we have had in the past years. Let's hope that we can get them before the birds do! These plums are sooo good that we tend to eat them right off the tree - from hand to mouth!
Amid plenty of birdsong and the leaves of the cachi (persimmon) tree on the terrace dancing to and fro in a soft breeze, Spring is really here, although summer cannot be that far away. Hopefully we won't have an un-relenting hot summer. Let's pray.
We're to have cena with Kate and Merritt tomorrow night in Tenaglie, so Merritt will undoubtedly cook. What should we bring? We'll bring a bottle of wine to keep things simple.
Under cloudy skies, we sit inside and watch a movie, Daniel Craig in Skyfall. He does a good job as Agent 007, but has none of Sean Connery's former charisma. Oh, Sean's smile is one most closely copied by George Clooney. Those are two irresistible men! Next to dearest Dino, of course!
Dino makes a sugo and I fix pasta for pranzo with an olive-y red sauce, then it's off to dreamland for a couple of hours under cloudy and cool skies. What's with this cool weather in June?
I can hardly believe how cold and rainy these first few days of June have been! Droplets splattering against the front window of the studio tell me there has been plenty of it. I've ignored the weather, concentrating more on what's going on inside.
Let's hope tomorrow brings a totally different take on what is happening outside. Magari! Did you remember that this word translates to : "If only it were so..."?
The glicine (wisteria) growing across the front of the house has thrived through it all; its long tendrils have crept up toward the top of the cachi tree and across the pergola on the front terrace. No need to worry about a dearth of shade on the terrace this summer...that is, if there will be a summer.
Dearest little Sofi has been by my side all day. I think she's beginning to show her age; let's pray we have her around for several more years. I don't know what I'll do without her by my side when the inevitable happens, unless Sylvia finds me another little Sofi to follow her. I hate thinking about it.
Tonight there are movies and regular programs to watch; tomorrow we hope that good weather will return. Hope it's lovely where you are!:)
I did a bit of research on places to visit in Southern France this afternoon, only to realize that we have already reserved a place to rent in Dijon, France this fall. Yes, we'll certainly pick up some mustard there. Ha!
Yes, the weather has improved although there are plenty of clouds in a pale blue sky; just now I see a contrail that looks like a prehistoric birdlike cloud design. Fortunately, temperatures are mild and sun shines on the cachi tree.
The far hill in front of the studio window looks so close! Perhaps it is because of the angle I see it from my seat at the desk. Once I stand up and walk to the window I realize it is not close at all!
Sometimes I worry too much. I've worried that I may be getting alzheimer's, but when I look up the symptoms of early stages of the disease, it's not describing me. I do worry less these days, and why not? Our lives are so simple and sweet, especially with sweet Sofia always by my side.
I stayed in bed late with a headache that lasted all night, but am better now. Dino fixed breakfast and now drives to nearby Attigliano to pick up a few things for pranzo while I catch up with you and Sofi rests nearby in her polka dot bed, with one eye open, just in case.
With cena at Merritt and Kate's tonight, there's not much to do, so let's be mellow. Outside the many little birdies are acting anything but mellow. Their lives seem frantic, as if they are ever wary of larger creatures that prey upon their kind. Let's hope when we come back in future lives that we do not come back as little birdies!
In the latest NYTimes.com online:
Italy's New Premier Puts Stimulus First, By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO
Published: April 29, 2013
ROME - Italy's new prime minister, Enrico Letta, said Monday that he would move quickly to stimulate growth and jobs, while easing some of the unpopular austerity measures enacted to strengthen Italy's public finances and ease its cumbersome debt.
The new government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta received a vote of confidence Monday in the lower house of Parliament.
"I will speak to you in the subversive language of truth," Mr. Letta told lawmakers in his debut speech to the lower house of Parliament after the swearing-in of his cabinet on Sunday. Without measures that stimulate growth, he said, "Italy will be lost."
He conceded that Italy, the European Union's fourth-largest economy, must address the debts that had made the country one of the first to stumble in the euro zone economic crisis. But the most urgent priority, he said, is to reverse the downward spiral in what he called one of the "most complex and painful seasons" in Italy's history.
The new prime minister's rare coalition government has at least temporarily ended the political gridlock that has consumed Italy since an indecisive election in February. After Mr. Letta's speech, he easily won a confidence vote, supported by political forces that are ordinarily at war with each other. He is expected to win a second vote on Tuesday in the Senate.
Mr. Letta said the effort to revive Europe's economy lay in greater European integration, moving beyond a common currency and toward a political and banking union. "Europe can return to being a motor of sustainable development only if it finally opens," he said. "The destiny of the entire continent is closely intertwined."
His first trip, scheduled for Tuesday, will be to Berlin, Brussels and Paris, he said, "to give a sign that ours is a Europeanist government" and to confirm that Italy would continue with its budget commitments.
He said the fiscal rigor of the kind enforced by the government of his predecessor, Mario Monti, was an indispensable precondition to growth. But he also said fiscal rigor alone would "kill Italy" in the long run.
Mr. Letta is part of a growing European effort to question the austerity policies championed by Germany as the medicine to deal with the economic malaise in Europe, where unemployment has surpassed Great Depression levels in some places in the south and recession is creeping toward the once-resilient economies in the north.
Mr. Letta's government is almost entirely composed of politicians from his party, the center-left Democratic Party, and from the center-right People of Liberty. They are united by a common cause: heading off economic disaster while toning down the antagonistic tenor that has dominated Italian politics for the last 20 years.
More than a decade of stagnation and protracted recession had taken a toll on citizens, Mr. Letta said. In some cases it had created a "personal vulnerability" and "lack of hope that risks turning into anger and conflict," he said, citing an attack on Sunday in which an unemployed Italian man shot two military police officers in front of the prime minister's office. The gunman later told investigators that he had aimed to kill politicians.
The new government was formed out of necessity after national elections in February effectively split Parliament into three factions. More than a quarter of the vote went to the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which campaigned to overthrow the existing political class, depicted as over-privileged, overpaid and out of touch with the hardships faced by many citizens. A record number of voters abstained from the polls.
Demonstrating that the popular discontent had not been ignored, Mr. Letta said one of his government's first orders of business would be to abolish the stipend that ministers receive on top of their salary as members of Parliament.
He pledged a series of tax cuts for small and medium businesses, and a delay in the increase of the value-added tax, a form of consumption tax, which had been set to take effect this summer.
The June payment of an unpopular housing tax would be canceled, he said, to give Parliament time to work out a reform of the tax that would "give oxygen to families," especially those in greatest need.
Though several political parties campaigned to abolish the housing tax, it became the signature issue for the People of Liberty and its leader, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, to support Mr. Letta.
Sounds good to us! Since we are now both Italian Citizens as well as remaining American Citizens (which won't change), the country appears to have awakened from it's long, long nap.
Meanwhile, back in sleepy Mugnano in Teverina, we continue to be serenaded by birdsong while Sofi sleeps partly in the sun. Dino returns after food shopping in nearby Attigliano, but with cena tonight with Merritt and Kate at their house in Tenaglie, there is not much to do.
Sofi and Dino and I drive to Kate and Merritt's and meet a couple from Sweden who also are staying nearby and have been invited to have cena along with us.
The evening is lovely, with Merritt taking over as chef and fixing a tasty meal for all of us. Sofi, as my shadow, is welcomed with love from Merritt and especially Kate. Sofi sits below me while I secretly feed her bits of: first, my ravioli, then bits of asparagus, and finally, little pieces of chicken.
She's treated with love from everyone, and on the ride home she sits on my lap, knowing that soon she'll be in one of her precious beds.
I drank little tonight, and took two tachiprina once we arrived home, so hope with an ice pack on the pillow below my head, that pesky headache will not reappear. Let us pray.
Yesterday was Dino's sister Adrian's birthday, and he remembered to give her a call. She is fine and happy and for that we are happy.
I do have a bit of a headache, but not much. No matter. The day is mostly clear and mild, with plenty of birdsong.
Dino does some wisteria clipping while Sofi and I meander about. She's all about chasing lucertole (lizards) at this time of year, so meanders about on the terrace while I stop to rest on a bench, partly under the pergola to get a bit of sun on my face. Ha!
Dino drives to the next town to pick up chicken or turkey slices to cook for dearest Sofi, while I catch up with you and Sofi sleeps in front of the studio window. Yes, it's a lazy day, and comé no? (why not?)
For pranzo, I poach eggs to serve on a bed of batter fried chicken that were cooked a day or two ago. The meal is simple and tasty. With a pain now and then in my chest, I'm feeling lazy. No matter. I'm sure it does not mean anything.
Armed with a fresh ice pack, I walk upstairs to take a nap after a bit of reading. My headache is mild, although steady. Let's see if the ice can cajole the pain out of my system!
When Sofi and I get up from our naps, Dino is already outside working on the wisteria pergola. It's a lovely afternoon. I weed, but just a bit, for I don't obsess about anything these days. The weeds will still be growing through the nursery cloth under the gravel when I walk out tomorrow to look around.
Tonight there are movies and programs to watch on television; then it's time to go to bed, me with another ice pack. Tomorrow we'll have an adventure with good friends, and of course you'll read about it subito!
We're up early, ready for an adventure with Penny and Bob, and stop for colazione at the Autogrill on the A-1 on the way up to Orvieto. Do you remember that that word translates to "breakfast"? Good for you!
Today our trip is to a small town on the slop of Mount Amiata, Abbadia San Salvaotre, and it is a magnificent place with grotesques and murals on the walls and ceilings of the Abbey. With Sofi walking beside me on her lead, we explore around the place, loving it.
We don't eat appetizers or salads or desserts, thinking we'll have gelato somewhere nearby, but despite searching in towns all around cannot find a gelateria.
We do find a bar with packaged ice cream treats and it is all still delicious, with the four of us each having a different variety. Sorry, Sofi dear; dogs cannot eat chocolate of any kind; it is poisonous to them.
We drive home across lower Tuscany and Upper Lazio and Umbria, dropping our good pals off outside the Duomo in Orvieto. Then it's home for a nap and television for the rest of the evening.
I admit another headache crept into my consciousness, so Sofi and I take naps back at home; me with an ice pack, while Dino watches television. A bit later we join him for the rest of the evening.
It has been a lovely day and our good friends are so kind, enjoying every little aspect of the adventure and judging...nothing! Oh, how we embrace that attitude!
We look forward to seeing them again, hopefully soon.
What a lovely morning! With plenty of sun in a cloudless sky, we awake and have breakfast before dear Dino leaves for errands and shopping. He loves to be out doing things, and that includes shopping. What an unusual and wonderful husband!
Sofi only wants to be near me, although she loves to chase little lizards that appear now and then on the white gravel on our terrace. I'm afraid of most living creatures, but not these, for they are harmless.
I catch up with you and then do a bit of reading, for that is what I love to do on our terrace, especially on a pretty morning such as this. I have no desire to gallivant around, for it is peaceful and pretty here, no matter in what direction I look.
Yes, we are growing older. I'm 67 and at an age when enjoying the moment is precious to me. There are so many of those here in our little piece of heaven at the edge of a medieval village in Central Italy.
Hope you are loving where you are living now, too!
This evening while catching up with you I look out at an amazing sky, brightly pink and lavender on a lavender-soft blue sky. I ask dearest Dino to take a photo, not knowing if it will come out, but here it is:
It's mild and the air is sweet tonight, just before 9 PM. Oh, how lovely everything appears with the evening's glow.
We awake to sun and the sounds of tall trees being cut down in the valley. This cutting is for winter firewood, and although we have a great view of the valley from here, we cannot see every bit of the valley, nor can we see all the trees being felled.
No matter. Do you remember the phrase, Fa niente? It means, "It does not matter; it's nothing". That's your Italian lesson for today:)
Dino leaves for errands and shopping for pranzo. The boconccini (little round balls of buffala mozzarella) in our frigo are still fresh, but he'll look for a good tomato, so that we can have caprese (sliced tomatoes, sliced buffala mozzarella, fresh basil from the garden, with a dollop of good olive oil on top and a dash of apple vinegar.)
Sofi rests in her polka dot bed while I catch up with you. With plenty of birdsong, the morning is so sweet. But then, I ignore the fact that the birdsong is not really "song"; it is the sound of birds guarding their nests. How fortunate we are that we were not born in this life as birds!
I have plenty of picking up to do on the terrace and could spend the morning cleaning every corner, but instead take out my Kindle and sit on the terrace and read while sun shines overhead. How wonderful is that?!
No, I don't read after all. I sit with Sofi nearby who is scouting lucertoles (lizards) and catch a few rays of sun; it is warm and lovely. After a short while I put the lounge chair away and imagine that we'll have caprese for pranzo, but will it be with chicken risotto?
Dino returns from doing shopping and errands at just after 11 AM. He brings home a piece of watermelon, and I cut and de-seed it, putting it in a bowl, adding crumbled pieces of feta cheese and snip off mint from the garden to garnish it. It's a great summer salad and worth remembering, although it takes time to deseed and cut the watermelon into small chunks. Yum!
I feel the heat of the day while writing this at just before noon, with plenty of humidity in the air. I'd like to eat early and spend the afternoon lolling around, being lazy. But when I ask Dino when he'd like to eat, he delays me for half an hour. Va bene.
We eat pranzo and take long naps; comé no? (why not?) The tall persimmon tree in front of the house shows plenty of its bright shiny leaves as they stretch toward the sun.
We rely on the persimmon tree for more shade, for it grows right next to and a bit in front of the pergola, where we are really protected by wisteria leaves covering sheets of bamboo over a black iron frame that was crafted by a local artisan some years ago. The bamboo sheeting is barely visible, and that's how I like it!
Do you remember that this tree is responsible for the persimmons that I use to make the tasty puddings for winter desserts and gifts for friends? Many of our friends here look forward to them, and it is a really good gift of love, for I am not a fan of buying presents for the sake of presents at Christmas time.
It's the weekend, so now and then we hear the sounds of small planes flying nearby in the sky above us. If I were a pilot, this would be a perfect time for a jaunt up in the air.
We've sent an anniversary present and father's day present to Terence and Angie and they have arrived. It's good to know. The dresses for the grand daughters for their birthday have also arrived at their house, so we can relax. Tracking gifts sent online is a good thing. Otherwise, we might never know.
The day continues to be warm and sunny. We watch a program about the life of Marlon Brando and it amazes me how many visual similarities exist between the actor and my brother, Mike Brandon. Ha! Even note the similarity of names!
I think it's their mouths and noses that are similar, mostly. These days, although I'd like a better relationship with my brother, he remains aloof. I wish him every happiness, just the same, and that his wife, Marti, returns to good health.
I continue to have relationships with both Mike's daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth, aka Liz, and for that I am so happy. To paraphrase something a friend once said, "Embrace the sweet little happenings of life, and blow all the rest away with a kiss".
It's time for a nap to the sounds of singing birds outside the closed and shuttered windows.
After a couple of hours, Dino gets up to work outside on the terrace; a bit later Sofi and I get up to check in with you.
By this time of the afternoon, skies are colorless here, but remain mild. Lots of birdsong continues; don't they ever get laryngitis?
After a couple more hours the sky is filled with clouds, streaking across the sky. Birdsong continues, and I stop to write a bit, since downstairs Dino watches the first day of a Formula-1 race, this weekend in Montreal, Canada.
I sat with him for a bit watching another program on television, but with the high pitched droning noise of the cars speeding on the track, my head could not bear for me to stay in the same room. I move upstairs and a couple of minutes later, Sofi follows me and rests in her polka dot bed nearby.
I like organizing documents; so because I have books and recipes and lots of other projects easy to categorize, I put on lovely symphony music and play around with the various projects. Soon it will be pizza time, with new as well as tested and loved recipes to make. But not just yet...
It's Sunday, and that means church and sitting with my Coro members up front. I love to sing and am so grateful for this sweet life in the autumn of my years in our tiny village in lovely Italy.
Afterward we drive to Il Pallone for grocery shopping and to a local bar for colazione. Back at home it's a mellow day with long naps and Formula-1 racing on television for Dino at night, for the race is in Montreal, Canada.
Dino has planned an early fall trip for the three of us, to Dijon in the Burgundy area of France. We love travelling to France by car, where we'll visit different towns on their special market days.
Each town or city in France has its own day of the week in which purveyors of food and flowers and plants and clothing and on and on greet their potential customers. Oh, how they all love to engage others in conversations! It's so un-American!
What is most important to them is the conversation about one's health as well as the beauty of the day. Yes, these sellers need to make money, but if you travel there you will surely appreciate the wonder of it all. Well, purveyors from India and Pakistan and some countries other than France are more matter of fact, but it's really worth experiencing just the same.
Our routine is that we pick the town that has the best market on that day of the week, drive there and park, and walk around to get a taste of the place. If the place is close to where we are staying, we might bring food we buy there that has been prepared earlier to serve at the open market back home for pranzo. Or we might eat at a local restaurant, where there are lots of outside tables and seating. With Sofi at my feet, she's well fed, too!
I especially love to purchase the flowers and fabric from sometimes hundreds of marvelous bolts of cloth. The flowers are to grace our rental place for that week. Later, back home in Italy, I'll make costumes for the grand daughters with special fabric we purchase and sometimes tablecloths or napkins or even something for myself!
We rent an apartment or little house in a place we have thoroughly researched and read about, where we can relax after our busy mornings walking around. If we are fortunate, we have our morning caffé and brioche at a local place and return there almost each morning, where we are greeted and remembered as new friends. It's an important part of the experience for us.
No, we have no interest in pursuing moving to France. There was so much red tape to settle here in Central Italy and we love it so that we now have our local cemetery plots and that has made the decision for us. Let's hope we last many, many years before we wind up at our final resting place.
If you or any of your friends have a dream of owning a little piece of your own in Central Italy, email us and Dino will do his best to find you an ideal spot; one you can return to year after year and experience the best of both worlds. There are properties on our site to read about; then if you have fallen in love as we did with Central Italy, email or call Dino and he'll love to work with you.
Dino also offers his service as project manager, so he/we can help you through any Italian red tape and he can manage any restoration or project management for you here. Thanks for reading!
We're up before 6 AM to take Dino to the train station in Viterbo. He has a medical appointment with a hospital in Rome that he can reach by train from Viterbo. I'm back home in bed before 7 AM and relax for more than an hour with dearest Sofi before getting up.
Hoping that all is well with Dino, Sofi and I sit outside under a mixture of clouds and sun. Well, I sit and read while Sofi meanders around looking for lizards. I think it's beautiful here, but that's my perspective. But then, I choose to look at the good things.Comé no?
I read from my Kindle while sitting outside for an hour and forego making and drinking coffee; a glass of ACE juice is fine with me. Do you know ACE? It's a combination of juices: apple, citrus (lemon), plus energy supplements. It is sold all over the world, I suspect, and can be quite delicious.
After an hour or so of reading I return inside and catch up with you and straighten up the house. I have no idea when I will hear from Dino, but then he calls to tell me he had an excellent visit with one doctor and is waiting for another visit with another.
Back here at home, Sofi happily rests in her polka dot bed by the open window.
Weather for the next ten days is forecast to be wonderful, with just showers possible here tonight and otherwise there will be sun, sun, sun.
It has happened again: I cannot find my eyeglasses! I've searched all over the house, inside and out, with no luck. I do have my prescription sunglasses that I'll wear when picking up dear Dino. In the meantime, where, oh where can they be??
I find them on one of the benches outside on the terrace, right where I had been reading earlier. I had taken them off to get some sun on my face and neglected to remember to pick them up when I came back inside. It took putting on my sunglasses and walking outside on the terrace to spot then resting on a bench...All is well...
Despite plenty of clouds, the sky is a lovely blue and it looks like today will continue to be a beautiful day.
We're up and drive up through Bomarzo for colazione at a favorite place, then Dino drives me on to dearest Giusy in nearby Orte for a pedicure. I love this woman, and we embrace each other warmly.
With my damaged blue (!) toenail color wiped off, I'm ready to wear my favorite summer sandals, purchased in France with their lovely flowered design. Giusy helps me to choose a color. It's a bit darker than I would choose; but then, I don't have a real tan yet. Va bene! The color is an excellent choice and looks quite beautiful.
Sofi and dearest Dino have been quite patient, although I've only taken an hour for a marvelous pedicure. We drive on to Viterbo, so that Dino can pick up a prescription from our dear dottore for his next round of hospital visits in Rome. Sigh!
With that done, we decide to eat simply at a McDonald's in the same town. This franchise exists all over the world, so why do we choose to eat at one? Well, Italians love eating at McDonalds. We're not sure whether they're into the Americanization of the world or they just like the American fast food and friendly atmosphere.
What I think, and Dino does not really agree, is that Italians put their own style into everything they encounter; in this case, they're showing their love of life and friendship here. I suppose what I love about eating at McDonald's in Italy is its customers; Italians so love to talk and love to share time with friends.
That is what we encounter here, with plenty of gusto. Yes, doing the most acceptable thing is important here, aka bella figura, but in this case, it's not as important.
In the U.S. are choices galore, for every imaginable type of food offered by its myriad of casual lunch restaurants. Here the choices are almost all Italian in type, with the notable exception of McDonald's. The popularity of this franchise is universal, I do admit.
We're back at home for an hour and then Dino leaves to pick up our dear friend Stein at the train station in Orte. It seems so long since we've been together. With his return, it signals the imminent return of pizza nights as well. Comé no? Why not?
Meanwhile, Sofi and I take a nap and enjoy the sweet and peaceful afternoon here in our tiny village.
On this day in 1963 in the United States of America, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech that will go down in history as one of the most influential speeches in American history;
If you can't link to it by clicking here, look it up in Google or in whatever search engine you favor. It's worth reading. Thanks.
We wake to another lovely sunny morning with clear skies and mild temperatures. After breakfast, Dino leaves to meet with a muratore at a local garden and Sofi looks about on the terrace but would rather stay with me. Right now, she's hanging her head over her polka dot bed nearby, just waiting patiently while I write. Oh, I love her so!
I've looked up metric conversions online to make a chocolate cake for Dino and am still not completely confident about the ones I see.
Since I want to sit outside for a bit, I've decided to ignore it all, and take the Kindle outside and read with Sofi by my side while we wait for Dino's return. Life is just not the same without our best pal.
I try to find out why I have not heard back from my brother by trying to locate him but am having trouble doing just that. Life can be so complicated. Perhaps it is because although it is almost noon here in Italy, it is very early in the United States. Sigh!
While I wait, I take out cupcake tins and make chocolate cupcakes; Dino tells me they're great, and comé no?
It's a lovely evening, and we sit around and watch a movie on television and then one of our regular prerecorded programs before turning in. It's been a lovely and quiet day in this little paradise.
With not a cloud in the sky, it's a joy to get up and eat breakfast with dear Dino, although he's a bit judgmental this morning, blowing away a suggestion of mine that Sofi and I join him while he's going to oversee the work at a local garden for a dear friend for a bit.
We return to the studio and I do some work on the computer while Sofi rests in her polka dot bed nearby. When Dino returns, we travel to Viterbo with him where he picks up a garden watering wand.
Dino returns and we leave for Viterbo, with little Sofi in tow. While Dino shops at OBI for a watering wand for the garden, I enter the tessuti (fabric) shop next door and purchase some lovely material for a summer dress for me, including lining for it.
So that's my latest project, and isn't there always something taking me away from my last project? Surely I'll return to the painting, for that's important. But the thought of a new summer dress, when I don't really have a pretty old one to wear with short or no sleeves later this week, has my head dancing. Comé no?
We return home and have pranzo. While we're watching one of our prerecorded programs on television we both nod our heads a couple of times, so although we have not had bit of alcohol, we are showing definite signs of sleepiness. Time for our naps!
Just then, Sofi races outside as she barks furiously, so she has seen or smelled a whiff of a cat. There has been a white cat meandering around during the past 24 hours, but neither we, nor she can seem to find it. Fa niente, speriamo! (It's nothing, we hope!)
Although I move it around and mix it with other fabrics for a bit, I don't actually begin making a new outfit with the gorgeous new material. That will have to be done another day. No worries...
Skies remain lovely and cloudless, so we're looking forward to sweet dreams this afternoon. Skies and sounds remains sweet, long into the night, with calm skies, but no loud cackling insects that chant all night long...yet.
Although it's Flag Day in the United States, it's just another glorious day here in Central Italy. Skies are clear, with plenty of sun.
After breakfast, Dino leaves on his usual errands, while I catch up with you, ponder what to have for pranzo, whether to make a custard with the extra eggs, what to do with the heavy load of cherries we'll pick tonight (what a mess it will be, since they're mostly ripe!) and on and on...
I find a great recipe for Sour-Cherry Pistachio Crisp, so print it and either tonight or tomorrow I'll fix it. It sounds great and will be tasty for more than the day it is prepared.
If I begin to sew the beautiful blue material we purchased yesterday, the delicacy of the top fabric is worth studying. It's time to take out the sewing machine, but the top layer of the fabric is quite thin, so I'm wondering about the machine stitching and whether to make a cord edging. Of course that will complicate the issue, but what's new about that?:)
I want to purchase another piece of the delicate patterned top fabric, so will ask Dino to take me back there. Until then, I'll work on other projects, like picking cherries and fixing my latest dessert. Comé no? There's no reason to stress...about anything!
Will we experiment tonight? Don't bet on it! (: We'll be messy and exhausted!
I've found a book online about grotesques, and so loved to paint them on ceramics in years past. With a reasonably priced book soon to be available online, I'd love to have it and order it. Why not paint them on fabric, or in oils?
After a tasty roast chicken for pranzo with caprese and chocolate muffins I made yesterday for dolce, we're going to take a nap.
Here's what we'll do with the cherries we pick later this afternoon as the sun begins to set...speriamo.
Yield: 9 1/2 pints
? 4 1/2 cups ground or finely chopped cherries
? 7 cups sugar
? 2 pkgs. liquid pectin
Sort and wash fully ripe cherries, remove stems and pits. Grind cherries or finely chop. Measure prepared fruit into a large heavy pan. Add sugar and stir well. Place on high heat, stir constantly and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and stir in pectin. Skim with metal spoon if needed. Fill hot sterile jars leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids; process in boiling water bath.
Then, take a shower!:) Ha! You'll probably be a mess! We surely will.
We're up from our nap at 4:30 PM when friends call to confirm our first pizza night here, but ask if we can move it to Sunday, June 23rd. We'll have nine people, for there will be three guests of Candace and Frank. We're sure it will be fun, just the same.
The day begins with lovely sun and warm temperatures. Yes, there are lots and lots of cherries to pit, and I stand in the summer kitchen over the sink to do just that. After a couple of hours, dearest Dino takes over, and we've pitted at least a couple of large bowls of the stuff.
Friends Patrick and Joan stop by for just a few minutes, and with glasses of iced tea, we sit around and Dino tells our good friends about his latest eye adventures at the hospital in Rome.
With adventures of their own to face at their lovely Montecchio home, they leave and we finish the cherries, covering the big bowls of them with cling wrap and storing them in the frigo for now. Once we determine which recipes we want to make, and Dino picks up the proper jar tops from a shop in Giove, we can make the cherry jam.
But with an adventure in Florence planned tomorrow with cousin JoAnn, who is there on holiday from Arizona, we'll not be around. Of course Sofi will join us, and we'll leave as early as we can. So tonight will be an early one, speriamo.
After a tasty pranzo of chicken salad sandwiches on sesame seed buns and caprese salads, we take naps. I made the chicken salad earlier, and am so pleased that Dino likes it. I do admit it is pretty tasty, although sandwiches are not regular fare for a midday meal for Italian families. God bless them!
Dino has renters to meet in Orvieto later this afternoon, who will stay in Tenaglie, but they are driving from Northern Italy, so it will take most of the afternoon for them to arrive in Orvieto. I think they flew into Milano yesterday.
I spend far too long researching cherry recipes, for I don't want to turn all the cherries into jam. Soon, very soon, I'll be trying a few of them out. If it's possible to freeze them for use in the fall and winter, that may be the best idea yet. Let's worry about it domani, o dopo domani (tomorrow or the day after tomorrow). Thanks, dear Hildegarde in heaven, for the idea of putting it off. By now do you know that she was/and still is, my mother?
We're up very early and leave for Florence, where we meet with cousin Joann and her husband Terry after a long drive from home. It's been decades since I've seen Joann and have never met Terry, but he's a very friendly guy. Sofi loves them both right away and all is well.
Roy drives us to up to Fiesole to take a look around. There are plenty of stalls around with various sellers and lots to look at. Aside from a cool hat that Terry buys and puts on right away, we don't buy anything.
Do you know what this statue in the central piazza of Fiesole commemorates?
We found a good place for pranzo near Palazzo Pitti and treat our dear relatives to a meal while Sofi sits at my feet and I feed her bits of my meal. Since Florence is famous for gelato, we skip dessert and walk around, finding a glorious place that sells magnificent gelato.
Of course we all have double-sized cones and cups, except for dearest Sofi, of course, for dogs should never eat gelato. I give her some cool water, and since she ate a good amount of my salad in addition to her Cesar container of doggie food, she's fine.
After pranzo we drive over to San Miniato ai Monti which is just above Piazzale Michelangelo, but I stay near the car while JoAnn and Terry and Roy walk all the way up the stairs to see it. No thanks!
We take Joann and Terry back to their hotel and Roy drives us home. He's very tired, for he has done all the driving today, and although he loves to drive, he's tuckered out! No wonder.
We spend the rest of the evening quietly and go to bed early. The weather today has been pretty spectacular, and we look forward to more of it tomorrow, when we meet Dan and Wendy for pranzo at Il Fontanile. We have not seen them for many months, and it will be good to catch up.
Regarding dear Joann and Terry, we hope they'll return to Italy next year and hope they have an interest in seeing the art that our area has to offer. Comé no?
It's another warm and clear day, and we're up early. I do some weeding and Dino checks on a nearby project for friends, after we eat strawberries atop a bit of cereal and milk.
He reads that there are ways to preserve strawberries for more than one day, but they're only fresh for the first day, so fa niente (no matter).
We have to shop a bit before preparing those cherries for desserts and jams; we have plenty of jars but need some ingredients for the desserts. Does it make sense to fix any desserts at this time of year to keep for more than a day? Probably not; let's not worry about it.
We feed Sofi and she rests while we drive off for pranzo with Dan and Wendy. It's a lovely meal at a place not too far from us called Il Fontanile (The Fountain - specifically, a fontanile is the water trough that the cows drink from.) We're the only customers for pranzo on this hot day. The meal is great, as is the company and we say "C'e vediamo..." (see you again...) to each other afterward and drive home after confirming that we'll set up a pizza night here with them soon before they return to the United States.
Armed with an ice pack, I lie down for a nap.
For now, I check in with you and then walk downstairs to fix the recently harvested fresh sour cherries with dearest Dino, with little Sofia by my side.
This annual project takes a few hours, but by the time we're through, we've put up about fifteen or more jars of tart cherry jam. How tasty it will be!
I turn on the classical music station, and although it plays all the same music, I love it as background to the day. Plenty of birdsong continues as I return to the house, for it is too hot to remain outside. Temperatures today are to be in the mid 80's Fahrenheit, and it feels like that already! Haven't I learned the Celsius (on the metric temperature scale) by now? Boh!
Feeling somewhat lethargic, I lie down for a bit and read my Kindle in our cool bedroom while Sofi continues to search for lizards on the front terrace. Soon she'll come in to lie on the cool tile floor next to the bed. Va bene!
Meanwhile, Dino drives to Viterbo where I am pretty sure he will pick up a freshly roasted chicken, one that we will have for our midday meal with a salad of sliced tomatoes, sliced buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and olive oil. Yes, living here is like what I imagine a tiny bit of heaven would be like.
Sofi returns to my side, si certo! and we stay cool and quiet until Dino returns.
He returns with makings of an insalatone (big salad), and that's just what we have, with tuna in the center. I've boiled small potatoes, and slice them now that they're cold, to add, nicoise (French) style. With hard boiled eggs and anchovies and olives and lots of other good things, it's delicious, atop plenty of cold lettuce, too.
There's time for a nap; there's always time for a nap! Afterward, Dino cleans up some of the terrace and I pull a few weeds that have popped up through the nursery cloth and gravel.
Tonight is mellow, sitting in the cool kitchen, and although it has been quite hot during daytime hours, we have not been attacked by lots of mosquitoes. I'm sure that's going to change...subito!
We're up early, with caffé, cereal and cold milk eaten in the kitchen at the table and then Dino drives off to do errands while Sofi and I move to the studio to check up with you and review pizza recipes of past years and begin to plan for this new season of pizza nights here.
Yes, we're slowing down. My memory is not what it used to be, and Dino is unhappy with me this morning because it appears that last night I took off my favorite earrings and put one down someplace where we cannot locate it. Gee, he does get angry!
With him gone for a while, I think I'll relax, then look around, but cannot find the second earring. Sigh!
As a dear friend would say, "It's bloody hot!" Today will be mellow here, that's for sure. I find a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, but don't have the energy for that either, especially since we don't have the chocolate chips...No matter.
Dino sees a hearse and a trail of cars going up to the cemetery, but we hadn't heard about who died. The notice on the village message board is for Bruna Ruzzi. She was the mother of Carlo (the archer) who has roots here, but lives in Spoleto. We don't recall ever meeting her, R.I.P. Signora Bruna.
It surely is "bloody hot!" again this morning, so I don't last outside for more than ten minutes or so to catch some rays at about 9:30 A M. There is not a cloud in the sky, although its color is a hazy blue.
Dino and I left earlier around 7 AM for Attigliano, where he caught the train to Rome for another test and I drove back home. Yes, we're getting older and I do worry about him. Let's try to think of other things as we wait to hear from him about when he'll return and where to pick him up.
Ever by my side, back at home Sofi searches on the terrace for her favorite little friends, the lucertoles (lizards), and though she does not eat them after she finds them, she's quite fascinated by the way they wiggle about.
I take my Kindle outside for the sun, but it's so hot that I don't last, as mentioned earlier. Instead, I find myself moving upstairs to the studio where there is a fan, and with it pointed right at me, the air is sweet and cool.
Pizza night planning is my latest project for today, and that means that sewing and painting will have to wait. The menu for our first pizza night of the season on Sunday is important, and I work it out with a couple of options, depending on what will be fresh this weekend, when we drive to the market.
Quite early this AM, Mario came to weed whack, and all the weeds have been cut. Once the cuttings have dried a bit, Dino can scoop them up easily and set them aside to burn later in the summer on a cool night. So things won't look unruly this weekend for our pizza premiere of the season. Va bene!
What's for pranzo? I'm not sure, depending on where I pick up Dino. If he calls to tell me I'll pick him up in Viterbo, we'll probably stop at the McDonald's there; otherwise, I'll fix tuna or chicken salad sandwiches on hamburger buns that are topped with sesame seeds and will be toasted before the salad is put on top. Might as well make some potato salad to go with them, for we have cold potatoes that were cooked yesterday and put in the frigo.
I admit I'm somewhat amazed that so many of you like to read our journal. My musings may not seem so special to others, although when we read back about what we've done and what our lives have been like here it makes us smile.
I could not imagine living out our lives anywhere but here, that's for sure! Thanks for reading...hope it brings a smile to your faces now and then.
Tuna salad and a separate potato salad have been made and are cooling in the frigo, while I wait for another call from Dino to tell me when and where to pick him up.
In the meantime, although I've read over past pizza night recipes and critiques, I'm ready to make some creative changes for the next group, which will be the first group of the 2013 pizza season at L'Avventura, Mugnano style.
It's so darned hot! Dino returns and we eat a cool salad and then take a long nap with the air conditioner on; then spend the evening relaxing by the television.
I can't believe how hot it is again this morning. We eat cereal with fruit and then Dino leaves for projects for a couple of hours.
Since we're having our first pizza night of the year here this weekend, I spend the entire morning trying to figure out a new scheme that will have us enjoying ourselves and not getting snippy with each other on pizza nights here.
It's so much work, but so much fun. Dino's big issue with these nights is that I drink cool wine while I cook, and by the time we're on our second pizza, I'm high and he hates how silly I behave when I drink. I don't blame him. Ha!
These nights are a great deal of work, but if I can work it out that I do most of the work earlier in the day, I can relax a bit more during the evening. So be it! I surely won't drink this time until the end, so we'll see if I can maintain my composure throughout.
We have a simple pranzo and a nap; then I'm up to work on the pizza menu. I'll talk it over with Dino tomorrow morning; he agrees. Since our guests are very good friends, with a couple of their friends added in, I'm not concerned if we repeat a few pizza recipes.
I read that if we purchase frozen pizza shells, they can defrost in the afternoon and are very easy. One day we'll look for them, but I don't like the idea; they're probably not thin enough or are made with a doughy crust. No thanks.
Later this afternoon, Dino and I do some garden work, cutting back weeds and plants that will be too much in view of our pizza event guests on the front terrace. Always my shadow, Sofi stays nearby, but not under foot; she's a dear doggie and I love her so!
We spend the evening quietly with the air conditioner on all evening, for the temperature is very warm. There has been an earthquake in Northern and Central Italy earlier, but we felt none of it, thankfully. I think no one was hurt.
With one day to go before our first pizza cena of the season, we're going to try to shop today and precook some of the things, like the caramelized onions, in advance, although we'll also shop tomorrow after church.
One of these days, we'll have it all down to a kind of science. Let's be sure we have fun, or not do these events at all! I surely hope we can.
After a bit of cereal with a sliced peach on top, we're on our way, driving to Il Pallone to shop for things, especially for tomorrow night's festa.
We shop and return to unload groceries, put in more laundry and now it's time for me to begin to sauté mushrooms and things to prepare in advance for tomorrow night.
Dino leaves for Attigliano to shop at Todis, hopefully to pick up things we could not find earlier this morning. We can also shop tomorrow after church, if there are any items left that we'll need for tomorrow night, but I'm hoping we won't have to.
With the fan on in the studio while I catch up with you, I realize we're using precious electricity and it will be expensive; that's the price (ha!) we literally pay for living here.
Before I know it, Dino has returned and there's no time now to sauté the mushrooms; I'll do that later this afternoon.
I mix a large salad, aka salatone, and it's quite good made with a bit of tuna from a can. We eat and I can't wait to lie down. I'm so very tired for some reason.
Sofi and I go up to take naps, with Dino following after a bit. The rest of the evening is quite mellow, watching some television and doing a bit, just a bit, of weeding on the terrace.
Tonight is "pizza night" at our house with dear friends, and because there is much to do to prep, we forego church. We always go to church, so this is really unusual, but I'm getting so very warn out that I realize I just can't do it all. Please forgive us, dear Lord!
This is our first pizza night of the year. In customary fashion, I prep, prep, prep; sautéing vegetables, slicing others and we find ourselves preparing the terrace and moving a longer table from the back to the front terrace. There will be nine of us (yikes!) and we need to make it comfortable for everyone.
Sofi seems to be doing well, although I do worry about her, since she is ten. In the next few days we will take her to the vet to make sure she is all right. What an angel of a dog she is, lying right now in her polka dot bed, catching some zzz's while I write.
I'll write after the evening is over, but for now there is plenty to do. That's it for now, chums:).
Begin with a thin pizza crust; no longer those doughy crusted globs of flour with lots of ingredients; these are minimalist-with marvelous tastes of specific ingredients, the palate left wanting more. Learn how to perfect this perfect thin crust and you'll be happily surprised at the difference.
Look up the recipe for Emeril Lagasse's perfect Pizza dough online. It's the one!
With the first pizza night of the season finished, I'm a bit groggy, but happy to move on. Friends seemed very happy with last night's pizzas, and for that I am relieved. These days, my emotions are less severe, my hopes that the evening was a happy one for all.
I added a thin crust pizza dough recipe to our repertoire; one that I've found online from Emeril Lagasse and you can do the same to find it. Since it works, it will be the one we use next time. This one is simpler.
I am so tired this morning, despite rising at about 9:30 and taking a cool shower. The sky has plenty of clouds, but also plenty of blue sky. I'm hoping it's not too hot. Regardless, I'm looking forward to a nap in our cool bedroom. I'm surely showing signs of advancing age...
Dearest Dino seems to be doing well; he's off to do some project management and tells me that Stein will be here tonight for a goodbye prosecco. Stein is returning to his beloved Norway for a while. We'll miss him.
Here's a web site worth paying attention to:
Too often, I believe we don't take the time to seriously consider those who have made other choices in their lives, and doing so in a non-judgmental way.
What if we woke up one morning and felt strongly that our belief system was out of whack: Would we judge another fellow man/woman differently then if we made another choice that was the same as theirs but different than that of our own made previously?
Stein arrives for a toast just before he's to leave to return to Norway for a bit. He's a retired Lutheran Priest, and full of such compassion that it's difficult not to love him like a brother. We open a bottle of prosecco and even little Sofi shares time with us.
This all has me thinking about life in the big picture; it all surely seems grand, just looking up at the gorgeous sky as I write, it's clouds shaded pink as the sun begins to wind down toward the end of the day.
How fortunate I feel in the depths of my very being; to be here in this tiny village with a man I love dearly, a little dog who adores me as I adore her, as well as a sweet and modest house that has all we need. The choices made from on high to give me all this wonder and joy at this stage in my life has me so very thankful.
I'm hoping you're feeling joy about your life, too. If it's not all you're hoping for, perhaps with the Lord's grace you can change those things that bring you sadness or despair. I've had those times too, although I bless each moment I continue to live and am thankful.
We go to bed before midnight with a gorgeous full moon shining down upon us all. Buona notte!
We sleep in until mid morning, and feel good. It's another lovely day in tiny Mugnano in Teverina , and we'll hopefully have a mellow day, without much activity.
Last night all the dishes were washed and dried and put away before we went to bed, and the evidence is as if nothing happened here. Yes, that's how it should be, thanks to dearest Dino, who takes his role seriously, quite seriously. How could I not follow his excellent example?
There's a salatone to prepare and eat for pranzo, and a long and leisurely nap afterward. Comé no?
There is some cleanup work we do on the terrace and in the garden in the afternoon, but no so much that we're exhausted afterward. Va bene.
Under a gorgeous full moon, we look around us and bless this tiny bit of heaven. Yes, it's true that life here is much simpler than our lives would be if we were still living in the United States: as wonderful as the U.S. is, it's complicated to live there in even a simple standard of living. Perhaps that's partly because there is so much one can do; so much one can buy there easily. But you know all that.
Always doing something, Dino leaves for a trip to the towns of Guardea and Tenaglie to check on properties and to pick up something for me to fix for today's pranzo. We have a package of sliced raw turkey in the frigo for me to cook and slice in tiny pieces for Sofi's midday meal.
Sofi continues to stay by my side, with trips now and then out to the terrace to check on the tiny local lizards hiding under our boxwood globes flanking the low iron fence. She chases them, but never eats them. It's her little hobby.
Whenever I ask her, "Where's Larry?", she scurries around looking for them. Who's Larry? Well, he's Larry the Lizard, si certo!
I feel a ringing in my ears just now, thinking it may be because I sat outside in the sun for a bit earlier and it may be the precursor to a headache. Sigh. Such is my life. I am prone to headaches, as you know if you read the journal regularly. Let's move inside and keep cool. That will probably stave it off. Magari!(If only that were so...)
I'm ready to take a nap, and it's only mid-morning. I also have no energy. Let's not worry about any of it!
We eat pranzoand as I catch up with you afterward in the studio, I hear the sounds of thunder overhead, and they are really noisy. Surely I think we must shut down the computer, for a real storm will arrive at any minute. But Dino does not agree, so let's hope he's right!
Today is oh, so mellow, and I sit on the terrace for half an hour for a bit of sun, while Sofi chases lucertoles. She's still feeling and acting as if she's fine, although she's more than ten years old, or young, depending on how you look at it. I love her dearly and would be so happy to think she'll be around for at least a couple more years. Every day with her is a joy!
There is a summer film festival in Orvieto this year; composed of old films. I suspect these are to be shown in English. As much as I love the idea of seeing these films on the big screen, I'm surprised they're not shown in Italian. But what do I know?
I have a headache off and on all day, and tonight locate an old bottle of something called "Blue Stuff", which is a light blue cream to put on one's face and it feels minty, somewhat like menthol. Perhaps that's what helps. I'm hopeful, putting it on before going to bed. Yes, headaches are a real drag...
It's a mellow day, although there has been plenty of rain almost all day. This morning, we took Sofi to the vet in Viterbo for her annual injection late this morning and she was a great dog throughout the ordeal. The vet checked her out and she is fine; did not even need her nails clipped. What a good doggie!
Is this Terence and Angie's 16th wedding anniversary? Si, certo! We sent them a gift earlier but are sorry we can't be with them. No matter. They'd probably rather celebrate privately anyway. What great folks they are!
It seems like only yesterday that we were celebrating their marriage in Southern California with the rest of Angie's family and Roy's siblings, relatives and close friends. It was an enormous and grand affair, with the wedding couple so gorgeous! But then, Angie is quite beautiful and Terence is a very good-looking guy. Si, certo!
Here in tiny Mugnano in Teverina, the sun is out this morning and I sit on a bench on the terrace to get some sun, while Sofi searches around the gravel and boxwood for her favorites, the lucertoles. I hardly ever see any of the little lizards, but then they are usually hidden from sight.
Dino drives off to check on projects and returns later in the morning. An hour is about all the time I can handle sitting in full sun, so catching up with you is my excuse to return inside. Thank you, dear journal.
Ever by my side, Sofi rests on her polka dot bed near the desk, and on this morning seems happy to close her eyes for a bit near me in the studio.
I feel as though something major has happened here overnight; I sense a change in our lives here. Perhaps I'm just getting dottier. Dino seems fine.
We've lovely large tomatoes to fix caprese with our pranzo, and Dino tells me we have plenty of buffala mozzarella to use for that as well. I know that we have plenty of basil growing near several of our tomato plants in tubs. Can't wait!
I'm reading a book in my Kindle about folks in Southern France, imagining that we'll be there later this summer for a visit. There's something at once foreign and familiar to it for me, and this time we'll stay near Dijon. It's another town we don't know a lot about, although the outdoor markets in that part of France are so much fun.
Our lives are so simple and sweet here, that as the technology revolution continues to evolve, I feel further and further away from it; as though it is a comet leaving earth, and I'm just sitting here in our little village, looking up at it and not understanding why there is a comet, nor where it is going.
Go ahead and judge me, although judging others is something in which I just don't believe.
A dull pain in my chest persists, but it's not too strong, so it's best to ignore it, too. If it's my time, so be it, although I'd rather stay around for a while.
I read about Whitey Bulger in Boston and his murder trial and recall what a folk legend he was in Uphams Corner, Dorchester, where my father owned a couple of shoe stores during my youth. The comments about him were usually followed with a snicker or a laugh, and I could not understand any of them.
I often worried that Whitey Bulger would cause harm to my father or his business, for my father had a bad temper when provoked, and I could not imagine that he'd have been frightened of the guy.
Oh, how I loved my father, although I could not always understand his actions. I loved and still love both my parents. They were quite different from one another, but both shared their deep love of my brother and me. God bless you, Mom and Dad in heaven!
I could not imagine living out my life anywhere but here in this tiny village. Roy is a member of the Confraternity of Saints Vincenzo and Liberato and speaks Italian quite well, so if I precede him, he'll do well here.
I do embrace our neighbors, although we no longer distribute bunches of lavender around to them when it blossoms in late June each year. The lavender is in full bloom now in our garden and is lovely, but I'm not looking forward to harvesting it. We'll see.
I am so very tired these days, and wonder if I'm nearing the end of my time here. Let's not fret.
I run across recipes online for banana pancakes and fruit smoothies and want to share them with you. They're wonderful to make for the summer. Enjoy!
* Original recipe makes 12 pancakes
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon white sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1 cup milk
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed
Combine flour, white sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil and bananas.
Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; batter will be slightly lumpy.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.
Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot.
PREP 5 mins
COOK 10 mins
READY IN 15 mins
It's a lovely day, and after fixing and eating a simple pranzo, I share the recipe above with you while Dino washes up the dishes; then we take naps and read.
Here's the recipe for a Smoothie:
Makes 4 servings:
* 1 cup fresh blackberries, or more to taste
* 5 large strawberries, hulled and halved
* 1 large banana
* 1/3 cup orange juice
* 2 cups crushed ice
* 1 teaspoon white sugar, or to taste (optional)
12 fresh blackberries
Place 1 cup blackberries, strawberries, banana, orange juice, and ice into a blender in that order, and blend on high speed until smooth, for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour into 4 glasses and top each serving with 3 blackberries for garnish.
All is well here otherwise, with plenty of sun and a few clouds scattered here and there on high. It's Saturday, so we'll attend church tomorrow morning, and it will be the last day of June. So we'll soon post the journal for June to share it with you.
Yes, it's Sunday, and that means church and singing with my Coro buddies. But I sit with only Rosita in the second row, singing familiar hymns. After Mass, we chat with a few Mugnanese - including Tiaziano's twins...
Dino has his camera, and the same kind priest who was there last time has no problem with Dino taking photos of the painting, but will they reproduce well enough for me to capture the image on canvas in a realistic way?
I don't judge my fellow man/woman, and it is on this last day of the month that I feel the importance of not judging others more than is usual, if that is possible. Please take a moment to consider how important that is. Thank you, dear readers of my journal, so very much.
Here's the answer to the Fiesole statue quiz from June 16: