Wednesday, December 27, 2006

“Happy Blog-iversary to me, Happy blog-iversary to me, Happy”…. etc, etc.

Thank you, thank you. Yes, it was 1 year ago today that I posted the first entry to OliveKnitting.

What? It seems a lot longer than that?

Yes, I know. That’s just because I do a lot of CONCENTRATED living. It’s like my life is that can of OJ you have in the freezer. Just add some internet and you have your daily recommended requirement of _________, um, well, I don’t know what. You will have to fill in that blank.

What? You want to know how I spent this really special day?

Thanks for asking. I’ll tell you the same I told all the paparazzi snapping photos and the reporters pelting me with the same question all day long. It was a normal day – I cleaned the dog vomit from the bedroom floor, washed the mold out from behind the shelves in the bathroom, did some grocery shopping, and tried to knit something without making a gauge swatch. It was just a normal day, well except that nothing broke.

What? You say you’re embarrassed because you forgot to send my blog-iversary present?

Oh, friends, don’t worry. There’s still time! I think blog-etiquette gives you up to 6 months to send a blog-iversary gift. And, listen, since most of you are reading this in North America…hell! The post offices are still open there! Checks and/or beautiful yarns of vibrant colors and natural fibers are always welcome and can be sent to: Regione Maberga 29, Taggia (IM) 18018, Italy. *

So now it is time for me to say thank you to everyone who has given me such positive feedback about the blog, to all of you who post comments, and all of you guys who read this stuff that I don’t even know about. Thanks. Here’s to 2007!

* I was just kidding about the checks, but not about the yarn.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas 2006

Yes, yes, ok ok! Enough! I know that I’ve been negligent of my poor blog. I know.

Just in case some of you weren’t aware, I went to the US for two weeks. It was the appendicitis-postponed trip. As anyone who has been reading here for a while knows, when I go to the US my abilities to blog completely seize up. They stop. I am completely unable to write even one post. This is not a technology problem. Think about it a second, if you only had say 4 weeks a year to spend with loved ones that you see for, well only for four weeks a year, would you be on the computer? Ok then, get off my back.

Oh yeah, well, I’ve been back for a while. I could have been writing. It’s Christmas, get off my back again.

My Christmas excuse here is NOT that I’ve been 1) knitting massive amounts of Christmas gifts to give to people – I opted out of that this year, I bought shit. 2) baking massive amounts of cookies to give to generous and deserving friends and neighbors – I opted out of that this year. Italians don’t like my cookies. Fuck ‘em. 3) decking the halls with boughs of holly – I opted out of that this year. One string of lights in the bedroom, and those went up mostly so I can read at night without the floor lamp that bugs my husband.

I don’t mean to sound so bah-humbug. I love Christmas. And I loved it this year as much as any. My no-writing-Christmas excuse is that, it seems that, the longer David and I spend in this area and the more people we get to know, the more friends that we make…the more there are people feeling the need to adopt us for holidays. This is to say, we got a lot of “are you going to be alone for Christmas?! You can’t be alone!” invitations.

As it turned out, we got invitations for all meals for all days and if we weren’t previously booked, it seemed to the asking friend that we were going to be stuck in Maberga for the whole Christmas season without other human contact.

As a result, we had a beautifully overbooked Christmas, leaving no time for me to document it here in my blog. Sorry.

I want to say that I feel completely blessed by this holiday season and it couldn’t have been more complete for me. I was offered the luxury of a great visit with family and friends in my home in the Midwest of the US and the wonderful experience of a extended family and friends in my adopted home in Liguria.

There are too many memories to capture here, so I won’t even try. I’ll just share a couple of particularly nice images.

Mom's birthday with some fun aunts and uncles and a cousin (they would be in-laws and a niece if you are looking from mom's perspective).

Grandma - still making me dinner when I come to visit. I'm not that special, she does this also for my dad every time he mows her lawn. She's pretty special though, doing it at 96 years old, living alone in the house she was married in. Whoa.

Some Serpe, a little cleaned up. It doesn't happen often but this was a fund-raising dinner. Anyone who wants to contribute to an organization that assists disabled adults in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, please go here. (NO! you won't find my family website!)

Fried dough - a Christmas eve tradion for southern Italians.

Christmas eve...Sardegna/Sicily style. Once I've recovered, I'll tell you what these people do with cherries and blueberries!

Dinner, Swiss/Italian style with some americans, a couple danes, half a chilean, a greek, a swiss, and, well, some italians .

Happy New Year to everyone.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


It must be winter. Stuff in the house is breaking down. Remember last winter? There was the water heater, the water, the car, the pellet stove, the toilet tube…wow. Then came the warmer weather, smooth sailing, relatively speaking of course. I almost didn’t have blog post material there for awhile in the spring and summer months.

Well, good news - shit is breaking left and right now. Blog posts galore!

Ever read the children’s book Fortunately? It goes something like this…fortunately a boy gets invited to a party, unfortunately it’s on the other side of the country, fortunately a friend loans him a plane, unfortunately the engine explodes, fortunately there is a parachute, and so on…

Here’s the Maberga version:

Fortunately Lynn and David bought a beautiful house on the side of a mountain with a beautiful sea view.

Unfortunately it didn’t have much electricity.

Fortunately, they were able to connect some wires to the bathroom for the water heater and the washing machine and then attach a lot of extension cords for the fridge and stove and stuff.

Unfortunately the wires to the bathroom were a bit too small.

Fortunately they worked for two years without burning the house down.

Unfortunately last week the small wires in the bathroom melted together.

Fortunately electricity is still going to the water heater.

Unfortunately it’s not going to the washing machine.

Fortunately this is not a big loss since the washing machine broke the week before.

Unfortunately at the same time the laundry is piling up the car is breaking down.

Fortunately a guy at David’s work can fix it.

Unfortunately he has to do his own work first so David has to wait.

Fortunately David just called and is on his way home.

Unfortunately he’s not driving our car.

Fortunately the guy at work says our car will be done tomorrow.

Unfortunately I’m somewhat doubtful of the reality of that.

Fortunately we live on the side of a mountain with a beautiful view so while I watch the sun set everything unfortunate seems like no big deal.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pearl Harbor day Wisconsin style

Posting from Elkhorn, Wisconsin - "the Christmas Card town" where I am happy to say that I able to be with this gal on her 65 birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!

A haiku of your very own!

A teacher for life
Winter day of infamy
She bakes really good (oops, sorry mom, I mean WELL)

Friday, December 01, 2006

A few disconnections...

Did you ever have one of those moments of cognitive disconnect? For example, seeing someone strolling down the street in Taggia, Italy (population 1000) wearing a Green Bay Packer sweatshirt…”wait, where am I? That totally looks normal, that guy in that Pack shirt but, I don’t think it is normal in this current time and space.”

I had one of those today. I was driving into town and saw a blimp in the sky over the sea. As an American, ‘specially one who lived 8 blocks from Coors’ Field in Denver, seeing a blimp in the sky is normal. But there was a disconnect - 1. there was no ball park of any variety below it but rather the Mediterranean Sea, and 2. It wasn’t advertising anything. Given that it was missing two of the major characteristics that defines “blimp” to this american, could it still be a blimp? The thought, “maybe that’s the Hindenburg” actually passed through my mind - I mean, it seemed a more likely explanation than Reebok trying to cajole December beach goers on the Riviera into buying some new high tops. Then I remembered all “the humanity” – probably not the Hindenburg. I pulled over for gas and was ready to ask the gas guy about it…until I couldn’t find it any more.

Again….I might be spending a little too much time alone.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I woke up a little sad this morning. It’s Thanksgiving Day in the US and I was supposed to be there were it not for that little surgery I had last week.

In my big, extended Italian-American family major holidays are shared around. Way back when, when I was little, Grandpa and Grandma hosted them all. All 18 of us - aunts, uncles and cousins would pile into my grandparents’ 900 square foot house which luckily had 2 kitchens to keep us eating and eating our way through the celebrations of the year. In pictures from those times the only way to tell one holiday from the next or one year from another was to look at the outfits of we girl cousins were showing off and the hairdo my Aunt Nancy was sporting.

I don’t really remember when the first phase of handing down the holidays to the next generation happened. I suspect it coincided with the growth of the bodies (some growing from childhood to adolescence, some from young adult to middle age – either way additional girth was a result) and then the growth of the number as we started adding boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, grandchildren at every holiday. I do know that this handing down happened long enough ago that we are now in the second phase.

My mom and dad got Thanksgiving all those years ago and they haven’t yet passed it on. It’s been years since I’ve made the trip to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving and I really wanted to go this year. I wanted to go while it is still at mom and dad’s house, I wanted to go help with the enormous about of work that goes into hosting the Serpe family, and I wanted to go to be with my big, loud, funny, and loving family.

Before my sadness and I were even able to slide down that slippery slope into the self-pity pool, I saw this:

And I got to thinking…this year I’m thankful for my sadness.

I’m sad about missing the sound of my mom getting up at 3.30am (or whatever un-Godly hour) to check on the turkey and to do all that pot clanking she does. I’m sad that I won’t get to try to stay out of my dad’s way as he vacuums the living room for the 100th time to make sure those little V’s in the shag are visible. I’m sad to not be able to call my sister 20 times to see if she and Steve and the kids are on their way yet. I’m sad not to get that squishy, soft hug from my grandma that feels so comfortable like she’s just the right fit for hugging, and to smell the great perfume of my aunties as we kiss happy thanksgiving. I’m doubly sad not to steal rice and artichokes and Uncle Dino’s bread with my cousins before it’s officially time to eat. I’m even sad to miss Uncle Mike’s dirty and quite un-PC jokes. I’m sad to not be able to see how my cousins’ kids have become, well, not kids any more. I’m sad for missing the duker games (aka: the cheat-a-thon).

If none of these things were happening today, I wouldn’t be sad about missing them. But they are happening and I’m thankful for it. As it happens I live in Italy, which has become my home and my amazing, crazy, dreamy and very real life for which I am thankful daily. If I weren’t so blessed as to have a beautiful family in the US and a beautiful life in Italy, I wouldn’t be sad. So this year, as David and I sit down to our Thanksgiving dinner which will begin with our tradition of sharing what we are thankful for, I will say I’m thankful for my sadness.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

a few loose ends...

As I sit here, healing and heeling (yep, I’m kind of getting in that holiday spirit…or else I’m expecting my one-legged friend The Giant for a visit), I got to thinking about my poor neglected blog. How many times in the past few weeks have I dribbled into a post some time-buying cop-out like, “more on that later!” or “photos to come, I promise!”. It’s more than time that I follow through because, as they say here, “a promise is a debt”.

Olive Harvest. I’ll start here because it’s the easiest….we didn’t have one. Sad but true, and I will be lamenting it every time I have to buy oil. This non-harvest occurred not because we are lazy or because of an unexpected surgery or even because WonderWoolman took me off somewhere causing lost time. No harvest because the olives look like this.
The really hot and dry summer left us with only one tree that even had any olives to pick, then when we went to pick them we decided the effort wouldn’t be worth the teaspoon of oil we would get. It seems that in addition to the unsuitable olive tree climate this year, there was some nasty bug that got to the olives before we did. It happened all over the region. Bummer.

The (dog) wedding photos...I won’t embarrass the poor dog with the photos of his new wife totally ignoring, snapping, and growling at him (or myself by making public that I actually put a bow tie on the dog). Spy, the lovely bride has gotten a little irritable in her pregnancy…well, only with Ruffino. Other than with him she is handling her circumstance with grace which is no small thing given her teats look like this.

After we left our great thanksgiving/wedding dinner Ruffino was clearly dazed at why that fun-loving gal he “met” up at our house was not NEARLY as fun any more. Why is there suddenly a Meatloaf song in my head.

Reflections on the Italian hospital stay…this one is a biggie. Really there’s so much to tell but let me just give a few thoughts:

--I am grateful beyond words to a country who is humane enough to offer socialized medicine.
After heavy sedatives, it seems I speak only Italian.
--I was awed and touched by the number of people that came to visit me, repeatedly, during my stay.
--I owe a HUGE thank you to my friend Mercedes who took Friday off work so she could stay all Thursday night with me after my surgery – “of course, I will! Men are not allowed and you CAN’T be alone!”, she told me.
--Those of you who have or will spend time in a US hospital, don’t take for granted those curtains between the patients’ beds. While not necessary, they are a really nice luxury, ‘specially when the poor gal next to you is having colon problems.
--I realized how much safer I feel when my husband is around.
--Doctors everywhere need to talk and explain more to their patients…it’s never too much information.
--It seems that Italian nurses come in only two varieties…surly bitches who seem that they would rather have their French manicured nails pulled off one at a time with a pliers than look at, touch or talk to the patients or the helium-voiced perky bundles of joy and hope who use terms of endearments like there was a buy-one-get-one-free sale on them at the Molto- Walmart. Strangely enough, in a time of crisis, I prefer the latter.
--Just because it’s Italy doesn’t mean the food is good in the hospital. I admit it, when they finally brought me my first meal (on my third day!) I was expecting my little bed tray to be a display of aesthetic and culinary taste…perhaps a nice chicken alla cacciatore with a side of rice, a nice glass of barbera to wash it down and a rose in a little vase just to wish me buon appetito. Nope- bland broth, boiled chicken, and water.

That’s about enough for now of my hospital musings.

4. The last thing I could think of that I promised was a group photo of this year’s Christmas market hats. That one will have to wait for a while since I’ve packed them away for safe keeping in my studio, which looks like this again.

I have just one word STAIRS!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A little something missing

Something’s been missing from this blog...yeah, that would be ME. I’ve been missing. Sorry about that. I guess it’s only been a week but it seems a lot longer.

Contrary to what some of you (who know me) might be thinking, NO I have not been nursing a wicked doggie-wedding hangover (and just for the record, for those of you who don’t know me, I DO NOT pretend that my dog is a person and does people things like get married. I love him, AND he’s a dog….who happened to have gotten married last weekend, but anyway back to today’s blog…)

Something else has gone missing. That would be my appendix. Yep, just as I was packing my bags for a Thanksgiving trip back to the States for turkey and lasagna with my german-american/Italian-american family I was leveled flat to the couch with what I thought was “just a little gas”. After a couple of days of complaining, David decided it was time for me to go the emergency room to have my “gas” checked out.

5 days later I am missing:

--an appendix
--a flight to Chicago
--a week of bloggerly fun

But hell, I can’t complain. In return I got:
--3 lovely stitched up holes on 1 beautifully bloated belly (no photos, I promise)
--more blog material than any blogger could wish for from an emergency surgery and 5 day stay in an Italian state hospital.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Another wedding

We’ve got another wedding to go to tonight. The bride and groom “have to” get married, if you know what I mean.

Here’s the broom, relaxing a bit before the big event.

Yep, our little Ruffino knocked up some bitch. Given that the gal he put in this “situation” has an Italian father, he’s insisting on a wedding.

(her mother is American so we will also be celebrating thanksgiving together after the ceremony – pictures to come, for sure)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dawn in Maberga

It's hard to have a bad day went you wake up to this.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Go topless!

So, I could see my breath this morning – inside. The weather has really changed. David and I were sorely mistaken when, in the scorching heat of July we thought that just because the walls were smooth now the bedroom would be warmer. We were mistaken in thinking that just because it LOOKS like a bedroom, a room in which one sleeps sheltered from the elements, that we actually did anything substantial to keep the elements out. Nope, all superficial. When it’s 110 in a room it’s hard to imagine being cold in the same room, even though you’ve EXPERIENCED it for three consecutive winters.

The walls don’t drop bugs anymore since we covered the exposed stone but we really did nothing about the roof, the main source of the bedroom breezes. Roof tiles covered by bamboo are still roof tiles covered by bamboo which let in all the breezes. And of course, a vaulted ceiling is still a vaulted ceiling – a vault for rising heat.

To our credit, we did think a little about heat when we arranged the room. We thought it would be really smart of us to put the wood stove in the corner opposite and facing the bed. In theory this is a good thought.

But here is the reality

It was really optimistic thinking that the fire from that little stove of ours would pump the heat the 20 feet diagonally across the room to our bed without sneaking a rise up to the ceiling.

The good news is, is that since David has been gone I have been the mad-freakin’-hatter. Check these out!

And today’s addition to the Hatter’s collection….I’m calling it “Go Topless”

Yep, I've knit a hat that has no top. (perfect for that "fountain 'do" that I'm sporting today)

So, there you have it... I'm topless in the cold. Ain’t nothin’ better.

Ps. If any of you really were studying these pictures you might wonder why those chairs are on the couch in the wind/heat photo. The dog has taken to humping the cushins in with an energy I can't keep up with...this was my solution to keeping the couch from being repeated violated.

Friday, November 03, 2006

30% Alpaca, 100 % grocery store

I have to tell ya' all, I am having NO buyers remorse for having spent the food money on yarn. NONE!
First of all, check out that hat!!! Is that not the loveliest fez-style-looks-like-a-circus-tent-grocery-yarn hat you've even seen? (my own design, if you want the pattern, just ask, I'm happy to share)

Secondly, I realized last night, as this hat was growing, stitch by stitch in my hands, that I knit way better than I cook any way, so why not spend the food money on yarn. (although I did make an incredibily tasty cabbage with bacon and tomatoes for dinner - good, but not as good as the hat - 'specially the smell).

Thirdly, the fun I'm having taking my own picture wearing grocery yarn hats is worth eating cabbage for a week.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hi, my name is Lynn and I have a problem...

I might have a slight problem…Ok, I admit it, it’s a big problem. I spent this week's food money on yarn. That’s a problem.

I went to the grocery store yesterday to buy onions, that’s all, just some onions. David is gone again. During these times I do a lot of “creative cooking” that involves emptying the fridge of stuff that’s been in there a while but hasn’t yet gone bad. I creatively add similar stuff from the cupboard and, there you go…a creative meal. So all I really needed from the store was some onions, that way I could save this week’s food budget for, well, something else.

As I was making my way to the onions I passed a stand that was selling yarn. Yep, yarn in the grocery store. I stopped in my tracks. I had a moral dilemma, I mean, I was just there for some onions. Some of you hard core knitting people might scoff at the fact that I would even consider buying yarn in the grocery store. This just means that you are hard core knitters who are not on a Budget – Budget with a capital B, that is. Because, let me tell you, I’m a hard core knitter, a knit-aholic in fact and I KNOW it because I contemplated yarn in the grocery store. Besides, it wasn’t 100% acrylic, 30% of it was alpaca for God’s sake!

Ok, I didn’t just contemplate, I bought.

I bought one skein yesterday (200 grams and 270 meters of 30% alpaca). I thought I’d just give it a try. I mean, what the heck, it was just one skein (one monster skein which, of course, help justify my actions).

Last night I made this with it
(along with some Lamb’s Pride. The white stuff is the grocery store stuff. See! You probably couldn’t have even told the difference if I hadn’t pointed it out). And I love the stuff. It’s soft and there is so much of it!

I went back to day…I didn’t even have the excuse of onions. I went straight for the yarn and bought three more skeins.

I spent the weekly food budget on yarn. I have a problem. Of course, I did technically spend the money at the grocery store.

Other Olive Knitting related stuff…

Seems that some new readers have been joining me here on Olive Knitting. Welcome to everyone. If you are here because of the “knitting” part…about 1 in every 10 posts is actually about knitting, so just hang on and those posts will come. If you don’t give a shit about knitting, don’t worry, only about 1 in every 10 is about knitting, you can just skip those. Also, if you are new to visiting this blog, or even if you are a veteran, feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. If commenting to the WORLD freaks you out a little, just drop me an email. I’d still love to hear from ya. Many thanks to those of you who comment and give me feedback regularly. I love it, really.

Speaking of feedback…it was pointed out to me that I made a grammatical error in my last post. Sorry about that, I do usually know when to use “me” vs “I”. And, for the record, I do know the difference between “there” “their” and “they’re” and “its” and “it’s” although I have caught my own mistakes in the past. Those are typos and I don’t care enough to take the time to correct them after I’ve already published the post. If you find those mistakes, that’s because I SUCK at proof reading. I also suck at spelling, bare with I.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

the relativity of size

We had some friends visiting this weekend. They are from New Mexico but have been living in Turin for the past 4 years. They are looking to buy some land in this area and build a house.

This got us to talking about square footage. This has always been a tough one for David and I. In the US I could make relative guesstimates at the size of houses based on the houses we had owned. I knew our “cute little doll house”, as so many friends and neighbors called our last house in Denver, was 1400 square feet, so based on that I could say, for example, that the new house that my sister and brother-in-law just built is FREAKIN’-HUGE-squared. At one point in the buying process of our current pad here in Maberga, I’m sure we were told the square meters of the place but since this number had no meaning to either of us, we promptly forgot it.

Anyway, with our friends we did some rough measurements and rough calculations…our house is roughly 83 square meters, for those of you not familiar with the metric system, are you ready?….that’s about 900 square feet.

I’ll say it again, in case some of you think I made a typo…900 square feet*. My (cleanliness challenged) husband, our (exceptionally lively) dog and (anal retentive) I live in 900 square feet. And ya’ know what? I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a house that felt bigger.

Here’s why it feels so big to me:

Because there is this view.

And this extra room (house dimensions where calculated only by the under roof area – under grape vine area not calculated).

Because after 6 every day we are alone here on the side of the mountain.

Because even in the smallest square-footage house I have ever lived in, I have my own studio.

Because compared to our road, well, everything seems big.

Mostly it’s big because I feel e x p a n s i v e here. And, let me tell ya’…that goes a long way when the cleanliness-challenged husband and the exceptionally-lively dog and the anal-retentive I are all secluded in HALF of those 900 square feet on the fourth rainy day in a row.

So, I guess what I’m saying here in this post is that size doesn’t really matter as long as it makes you feel good…of course, I’m talking here about houses.

*I recognize that 900 square feet is truly enormous for most people living in the world, but for most people reading this blog, well, it’s not.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Really, I promise, I will not start veering my posts in the direction of politics. I promise. Frankly, I find politics a little boring to discuss not to mention there are many more, better informed people than me to carry the discussions. BUT, just this once I have to say something…

The new “fence” embarrasses me. I’m not pissed or outraged or shocked, I’m embarrassed. I won’t go into my personal opinion here about the topic of immigration or immigrants, documented or not because, as I said there are better informed people than I to discuss this. Of course, I HAVE an opinion which is based on my own experiences, but, again, I won’t go into that here.

What I would like to say is that I find “the fence” really really childlike…and I don’t mean in the let’s wear stripes and plaids and pokadots together and go play in the sandbox. That kind of childlike is lovely and something, I personally believe adults are missing too much of, but I digress. “The fence” is childlike in the not-fully-developed-cognitively way. I know (I’ve been reminded a lot here in Italy) that I come from a young country but I was not aware that we are still in the concrete interpretation phase of our development (based on this I would put us somewhere between 2 and 11 years old).

When I first heard the BBC blurb (my only news outlet is the BBC on shortwave radio since we have no tv, I read no newspaper, and I hate surfing the net...'specially for shit about politics) about approval for "the fence" a vivid memory came to mind - The annual spring break vacation to Alabama that involved an 18 hour car ride from Wisconsin.

Sister Laurie and I in the backseat annoying each other – mostly me annoying her. Approximately 20 minutes into the drive Laurie declares that the seam down the middle of the seat is NOT, for any reason what so ever to be crossed by me. Yeah, right! Now I had a new game of slyly and not so slyly sliding my pinkie across the seam. And then, more annoyed, Laurie built “the fence”, with that big bag that carried car ride's entertainment and snacks. It was a physical barrier that she thought would deter me from getting what I wanted. I will repeat… yeah, right! Not able to slyly slide a pinkie over the seam any more I was forced to access what was available to me. Yep, my pinkie went immediately into her ear, my big toe between her toes, a twisting index finger in her hair.

As I said, I don't like to talk about politics. You can form your own opinions and arguements about my mental connections between Wisconsin, Alabama, Laurie, Lynn, USA, Mexico, treat bags and fences.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Maberga open next spring

So, it’s been raining some here. Well, it’s been raining a lot. We’re happy for the water but I’m ready for sun so I can clean and dry out the house. You couldn’t imagine how a stone house with walls two feet thick collects and retains moisture. MOLD! Bleach is my new favorite pal.

Anyway, during a crack in the clouds, Ruffino and I went up to get him a lemon from one of our lemon trees, only to discover (to my joy and amazement!) our vasca filling with water!

My stepson, Graham, came to visit a year and a half ago and one of the projects he and his dad worked on was cleaning out our “pool”. It’s actually, our vasca – built and maintained for the purpose of collecting spring water to give to all the vegetation we (should) have growing on our terraces. But the vasca looked to us, during a time of great water wealth, to be an excellent swimming hole during hot weather. So David and Graham drained the thing and cleaned all the weeds and algae out of it. This was the beginning of …well…a long story.

The drought really started then. And we share that “pool” with some neighbors, who, as it was empty, found it an opportune time to cut into it and add larger pipes going to their land.

It’s never been the same since.

The neighbors did something wrong in the sealing of the new pipes coming from the bottom, so, even when there was water (ie: rain) to fill it, it leaked and never filled. The whole mountainside was experiencing a water shortage and our source (there has always been a small small small spring that feeds into this vasca) was hemorrhaging and WASTING WATER.

The neighbors, who made the mistake, fixed it by adding some temporary containers to collect the spring water that arrives. This trickle of water has kept David and I, our clothes and our dishes clean for over a year (you would be surprised what a collection of water you will have from a 24 hour drip – really, it’s incredible. It’s enough, well to keep two people, their clothes and their dishes clean!). We had such a collection that a neighbor, who has no rights what so ever to this water decided to put his own container below ours and rig it with a pump so he can have some water up at his place (this is a touchy subject, best not explored here!).

But today, Ruffino and I found the pool FILLING! It’s filling even beyond the leaking point (which happens to be at the BOTTOM!), I don’t know how or why – no one has been to fix it. It’s just filling, by itself.
Let's have a look again at that first picture...I'm sure you will now see it with new eyes.

I can’t wait for summer. I might have to knit myself a new bikini for sitting out by the Maberga community pool.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sweater Weather

I ran into the boss of a friend of mine the other day. He likes to speak in English with me.

Dino: Ciao, Cara Leeeeen! How are you?

Lynn: I’m fine, how are you, Dino?

Dino: Yes, Yes, I am well.

Long pause in the conversation…

Lynn: Nice sweater, Dino. (it wasn’t handmade but still – a nice color combo, plaid, zip up)

An even longer pause, accompanied by that smile people give when they are treading in incomprehension…

Dino: Yes, yes, but I think it changes in a couple days.

Long pause of confusion on my part…

Dino: Yesterday I went in Piedmont and already is cold there.

Just as Dino predicted the weather (sweater, whatever) has changed and in celebration (or preparation) I have made David and I some of these…are you ready…

From the studio of Olive Knitting I am pleased to introduce

50% sock, 50% slipper, 100% warm winter feet on cold brick floors

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Pigs and Freezers

So, we were up at Franco’s place the other day. He had a truckload of hay delivered and David went up to help unload it. I joined later for the obligatory glass of wine. While there we wandered around with Franco so he could do his chores. He’s got lots of animals to clean and feed and a number of gardens to tend to.

Franco, as you may recall from last winter, raises pigs for slaughter. This year he has three. He and his wife usually keep the meat of one and sell the rest. David got inspired.

He said to me, “Should we buy half a pig this year?”

Lynn: “Yeah, great idea.” Given that, even after decapitation, the pigs are larger than our entire fridge and that the freezer section of this can hold about two ice cube trays and a tub of gelato, I don’t think it’s realistic to think we’d get a half of one of Franco’s pigs in there. “Where do you suppose we’d put this meat?”

David: “Hmmm. What if we buy a freezer?”

Lynn: “Yeah, great idea. Where do you suppose we’d put that?”

Here comes the best part of the conversation…

David: “In the bedroom?”

He was serious.

Now, I must say here that my intellectually above-average husband is really a great problem solver. As anyone who knows him knows he doesn’t seem to see the world in quite the same way as a goodly number of the rest of us folks. And it’s this characteristic that allows him to find solutions where others can not. For example: need a freezer = buy a freezer, need space for the freezer = put it in the bedroom.

Now, having said all of THAT, let me list the top 5 reasons that this is the most ridiculous idea the guy has ever had:

5) “Honey, can you run up to the bedroom to fetch me some bacon? It’s right underneath your pile of dirty laundry.”

4) Freezers are really heavy and we have this small issue in our bedroom of an imminently collapsing floor.

3) I think it would be really hard to find the right color freezer to match the Turkish rug hanging on the wall.

2) Living in the country in this simple and primitive way we do, we walk a fine line between “rusticity” and “squalor” . A freezer in the bedroom, in my opinion, would propel us with jet- rocket-like speed into Whitetrashville.

1)Ummm, well, IT’S OUR BEDROOM!!!!

I must admit that I originally wanted to make a top 10 list but could only come up with 5. Maybe the guy’s on to something…no. He’s not.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Some Saturday morning randomness...

David comes home today so I thought I’d better get in another post.

Maberga random…

The olives are starting to turn color. The harvest won’t happen for another month and a half or two months. Perhaps you are wondering how one knows when the olives are ready to be picked. It’s very very scientific. David and I look at the olives, we study their color, we follow weather patterns and the phases of the moon and then, when we see all our neighbors picking their olives, we decide it’s time to pick ours.

People often ask the difference between black and green olives….a black olive is a ripe green olive. When black, they have the oil. (that last part, about the oil, I learned from Jeeves. A great olive website can be found at Another little olive fact…you can not eat olives right off the tree. Well, you CAN but you will end up spitting it out immediately(that I learned by experience). They are very bitter and need to be cured. I think I might try curing some this year.

Anyway, more olive info as the time draws nearer.

Knitting random…

Friends Mary and Earle were kind enough to pack and carry over an entire suitcase of yarn for me. I ordered a bunch of summer sale stuff from Knit Picks. Check it out…

If any of you knitting readers (I think there might be like 2 of you) haven’t tried KnitPicks yet, you should. I have gotten stuff from them several times and have been extremely happy with the whole buying experience – their service is excellent (prompt and friendly), the yarn is great and the prices are AWESOME. I’ve even received a pattern design rejection from them that was so personal and friendly it didn’t even make me feel bad! I know that buying online can’t replace the joy and elation of an outing to your local yarn store but the Knit Picks’ bang for the buck is definitely worth it.

I’ve started several projects with this yarn already…I will post final product pictures when, well, I have final products.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Not quite there yet

So, I was all set to write to you about how I was assimilating into Italian culture. I was going to tell you that I’m becoming like Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist. You know the movie, when, slowly slowly throughout the movie she takes on more and more of the characteristics of the gorillas with whom she is living. Please don’t misunderstand my allusion, I am NOT equating Italians to gorillas!. But rather I was going to point out this slow process of understanding and assimilation into a new culture, where behaviors and speech of those around you become your own…like when Sigourney Weaver’s lower jaw started jetting outward by the end of the movie.

I was going to tell you about my trip the other day to the phone store where I have to go to recharge the internet every month. I was going to tell you that when I was driving home I had a sensation of being so very Italian. I was going to tell you that when I was in the phone store, I didn’t just go in, ask for the recharge, pay and leave – which was the purpose. While there, I recharged the internet and also started chatting with the woman behind the counter. I asked her about other phone packages…not for the internet, which was my task there…I started asking her questions about my phone, my husband’s phone, our combined package. God, I felt so Italian. I had no intension of buying anything or changing our packages or anything, I was just interacting, getting information, passing some time.

I was going to write to you about all that until I spent the other day in my friend’s shop. I’m not assimilated at all, not even in the least.

My friend owns a “casalinga” shop. This in and of itself is confusing to one not from this culture. The casalinga shop sells things for the housewife. Her particular shop has all the stuff you need to sew (except the actual fabric), tons of buttons, some costume jewelry, and loads and loads of socks and nylons.

While I was there, every person (all women and one man) who came in didn’t just look around, get what they needed, pay and leave. They ALL went straight for my friend. They then proceeded to tell her what they needed, what they were doing, they debated the merits of this one or that one, asked her questions about other stuff in stock – we’re talking about pairs of nylons and bits of elastic here, people! Each sale took, on average, about 10 minutes.

I guess I have a ways to go yet.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Monday, October 09, 2006

Remember how excited I was about finishing the bedroom so I wouldn't have all those creepy crawlies creeping and crawling all over the place? Remember that?

Yah, well, I came up to bed tonight and found this fella

hanging out behind the radio. Yeah, he disappeared when he saw the flash...that's comforting. Where the hell did he go, there are no more holes in the walls?

Obviously there's at least one...he got in, didn't he?

Then I sat down and randomly gandered up at our big beautiful window

Terrific. Right over the bed. Better sleep with my mouth closed tonight. 'Course, that guy's so big he wouldn't even fit in my mouth if he fell. He'd just cover my face and probably suffocate me to death. (Please no comments from family members about the size of my mouth. Just because I talk a lot doesn't mean that it is physically BIG, big enough for a huge gecko).

Well, that's about all I have to say for tonight. Yes, as you may have guessed, David is out of town again. So you can expect more posts. With the additional time left by his absense, I have also started clearing our land of a year's worth of weeds and growth ... using a pair of scissors.

Damn, I almost forgot... This is a knitting blog...

Here's a photo of those wrist warmers.

They aren't really warming anyone's wrists here but it's a cool photo, no?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Happy Birthday...

So, it’s my dad’s birthday. Actually his birthday is tomorrow but our internet expires at midnight tonight and tomorrow is Sunday so we can't renew until Monday and, of course we can't renew before hand because, well, it's just one of those weird Italian quirks. Anyway...

Happy Birthday, Dad. I really wanted to do something special and unique for you for your birthday so I wrote you a haiku. Ready?

Tony, a grand Dad.

Autumn adds another year.

He worries a lot.

On reflection of my first haiku…that really doesn’t say much of anything about my dear dad. Jeeves told me that I need to do the 5-7-5 syllable thing and also include the season (he also said WAY more than I really wanted to know about writing a haiku).

I guess this means that Dad (and you lucky readers) get a new haiku every year…each year revealing a little more about my generous, loving and concerned father for many many years to come.

Happy Birthday. One year wiser, not older, well, also older.

PS. Mom, I bet you can’t wait for December and your haiku!

Monday, October 02, 2006


It’s EarleinDenver, in Maberga!

Along with EarleinDenver came his lovely bride, Mary (also from Denver) and their fun friends Nedra and Keith (also from Denver). We had a great weekend including a market, a sanctuary, a porcini festival, 5 hilltop towns, 1,000,000 lbs of food, 45 coffees (a piece), a couple bottles of wine, two and a half colds, and one ambulance with accompanying trip to the emergency room (everyone is now fine, thanks for asking, well, except David whose cold has him feeling like his head is stuffed with toilet paper). An enjoyable time was had by all.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

This might be problematic...

I was at a lesson yesterday and my student asked me if I'd heard?

student: "You have heared?" (we are still working on sentence sturcture for questions, and irregular past tense)

Lynn: "Did I hear what?"

student: "Please repeat, I not have understanded."

Lynn: "Did I hear what?"

student: "What here? Yes, here, qui! a SanRemo!"

Lynn: "No, I said, 'Did I hear what?"

blank stare

Lynn: "What have I heared?"

student: "ohhhh....."

He proceeded to recount the story that is the talk of San Remo...the story of a big, mulitcolored bird saving a baby drowning in the sea by dropping down some kind of long string.

Lynn: ", I not have heared.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sorry for not writing for a while..

I’m really sorry not to have been writing….you see, umm, well you aren’t going to believe this. Can you keep a secret?

You see, just before we got that big rain storm last week, I finished this.

Isn’t it cool. It’s a letterman’s sweater. Yes, that’s a real letter earned by this little knitting gal from Elkhorn Area High School for my stellar contributions to the gymnastics team. Actually I sucked at gymnastics but I got a letter anyway…the E is for “effort” in my case. Anyway, I’d been wanting to make this sweater for a long time now. As I was saying, just before that big storm I finished it.

Then things got a little weird.

Just as I was sewing that amazing purple E to the front (no small task for an inexperienced seamstress with a new sewing machine, let me tell you) all the clouds in the sky started swirling. They were going in every different direction at the same time and there was a tremendous wind. The sky turned a bizarre shade of chartreuse. Then, just as I was making my last little acceleration with the foot pedal on the machine, an enormous lightening bolt struck immediately outside my studio window.

I’m not too clear what happened after that. I remember trying the sweater on and having a look in the mirror. This is what I saw (sorry about that drawing, I didn’t have the presence of mind to make a photo). David says he saw me grab a ball of merino sport weight and my number 4, extra long needles and then, apparently I took off running down the road shouting. All he understood at the end of a string of euphoric hollaring were the words “Wonder Woolman!” as I disappeared down the hill. A moment later he saw, what he swears was a very large bird in striped tights flying above the house and over the mountain top behind. It was several days later that David found me sleeping in our bed, just as normal as always. I thought I was just waking from a nap but David assured me that I’d been missing about 5 days.

So, that’s why I haven’t been writing, it seems that I have become the first Italian-American Knitting Superhero, Wonder Woolman.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Two by two

So, it started raining a couple nights ago. Usually it’s my tendency to exaggerate. That it “was raining” however, is an understatement. An understatement along the lines of Noah and the arc and all the animals and all that.

Any of you who have been somewhat regular readers of Oliveknitting know that we’ve had a rather dry spell here in Maberga. That would be another understatement. We haven’t had much rain for the past couple of years. Perhaps the rain Gods got sick of hearing the Mabergini (those of us from Maberga) incessantly talking about the lack of water, they got fed up with our lamenting the great vegetables we could have if only there was water, they couldn’t stand any more of our whining. Or maybe it’s just a scientific fact that precipitation has a relatively constant average…sometimes, however, you have to figure that average over a really really long time. I think the later theory might be more accurate since the precipitation of the past 30 hours just made up for the past lack there of of the past 2 years (slight exaggeration).

The rain came down in sheets, sideways. There was lighting and thunder and a lot more lighting. Thank god that one of the lucky-strike-extras that Agusto did to our house this summer was “ground” us. I’m sure many of you reading (family members in particular) have been waiting for David and I to get “grounded” for a long time. I’m sorry to disappoint, I mean it here in the quite literal sense – the electrical sense. I felt much better as the thunder and lighting was crashing and exploding all around us that if we got hit, which I was sure was just a matter of time, our whole sophisticated electrical system wouldn’t fry. I’m getting kind of used to walking into a room, hitting a switch, and getting light.

One of the lucky-strike-extras we did NOT get from the Anti-Agustos who did the work on the backroom of the house (my studio) was anything at all that resembles a rainproof room. Rain came flooding in under the door, around the windows. Water was running down the inside wall of the room like blood in that Amatyville house. There was a water fall in the doorway to the bedroom. Judging by the amounts of water coming into that room the other night, I now have my doubts as to whether it is even attached to the house.

As troubling as this was, it was not what was preoccupying us. It was, instead, this window.

Isn’t it lovely? Not when it is open and it’s raining antelope and moose, sideways, in the middle of the night and the nearest ladder is a 20’ metal extension ladder leaning next to the shed outside in the middle of a lightening storm. Under these circumstances, it’s not lovely at all.

I won’t go into the whole process we went through (nor the dialogue, since I am trying to keep this a somewhat family friendly blog) that resulted in that chair landing on top of that wardrobe with that shutter balancing on it which is holding the windows closed. Let’s just say it was an amazing feat of wet circus-style gymnastics with a rated-X-for-language voice-over.

After this we went two by two to a somewhat damp bed – two soaking people and two frightened animals.

I’m happy to say that we did NOT get a direct hit on the house by a lighting bolt. All the water, though, has made traveling by car a little difficult.

(Imagine here a photo of our little road covered by mud and rocks and really big rocks - we had several landslides on the road and I am having technical difficulties invloving photos. What's new?)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Reality TV

Whoa, what a night we had here in Maberga a few days ago. We were grilling dinner out on the front patio when neighbor Gianni came running up to us looking rather distraught.

“Do you know the number to the Forestale?”

The Forestale is the Forest Patrol. The Forestale is responsible for busting you if you try to build something on your land in the country that you don’t have government approval for. There is a phone tree that is activated any time a neighbor spots a Forestale Jeep coming up the road. “Cover up your piles of sand, put away the cement mixer!” Ok, I’m exaggerating a little but not much.

The Forestale is also who you call when there is a fire in the mountains.

“What’s the number?!” Gianni shouted. “There is a fire on the next ridge and no one is attending to it!”

“We don’t know the number, but try 118 and tell them about the fire.” 118 is the Italian equivalent of the American 911.

So Gianni calls 118 and ASKS FOR THE NUMBER OF THE FORESTALE! Which he calls and gets no answer. “Shit!” He says.

David says, “Do you think you could tell the 118 guys about the fire?”

“Yeah, ok.” Gianni calls 118 again. “There is a fire. … Yes, I called the Forrestale but they didn’t answer. Thank you.”

Five minutes later we had two of these over head.

They dropped water on the fire and the area around to contain it.

Those folks just pulled off the road to watch.

After the helicopters left, the firemen took over …just to be sure it was out.

Phewww…that was a close one. There’s nothing quite like the helpless feeling of watching a forest fire burning out of control coming straight at your house. Maybe there’s one feeling worse…poor Mario down the road who has the house made of wood. Someone should write a story about that, oh, wait…

After we were sure the fire was being looked after we enjoyed a nice dinner on the patio and watched the moonrise.

Reality tv. I love it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

culture clash

So, today is day 6 of David being gone, on his little sailboat trip to Corsica. Uncharacteristically, I’ve been bored. This means, given I don’t have real conversation I’ve been relying heavily on virtual ones. I’ve gone to my favorite blogs several times every day only to find that the authors have been lazy. I frequent about 5 different blogs regularly and it seems in the past week no one is writing. Of the 5 blogs there’s been about two new posts in the past week. This morning I found myself cursing them all and their laziness.

Then it occurred to me that I too have a blog that I haven’t posted to for several days. So, here I am. I have nothing really to say, otherwise I would have been posting. But since I can’t point out the splinter in one’s eye without noticing the freakin’ tree in my own, here I am.

Because, I don’t have anything really to say, I will do the Italian thing and talk about food and digestion.

tonight I am having trouble with both.

With David gone, the great carnivore he is, I have been eating a ton of vegetable predominant dishes. Tonight I made a stir fry with carrots, zucchini and fennel. I thought, coming off the success of fried mushrooms, that I would not add onions, as I normally would to the stir fry but rather, I would DEEP FRY the onions and add them on top like some kind of crunchy onion crouton.

Can you see the trouble I'm headed for?

I used the same recipe for the mushrooms but also added flour. I dipped the sliced onion into egg and then into a mixture of flour, breadcrumbs and salt….then I deep fried them. So far so good. I took the batches of golden brown slivers out of the oil, placed them on paper towel and dowsed them with salt. They just looked so damn good that I started nibbling on them.

Before I knew, I had totally given up the idea that these stringy salty delights would be an accessory to the stir fry, I was just eating them. You know, like you do when you go to Chili’s and order a loaf.

While I was making a feeble attempt at eating the stir fry, David called. “What cha doing?”

“I’m eating onion rings…and a little stir fry.”

“Wow, that sounds awesome.”

“I think I’m already regretting it.”

My stomach, at this point, was already turning somersaults that would have Nadia shaking in her leo.

Then Italian pal Mercedes called. Same question, “What cha doing?

“Oh, I’m eating. I made this huge mistake of thinking onion rings would be tasty and now I’m paying.”

She didn’t understand so I explained how one makes onion rings. And she promptly responded, “Jesus, you just ate a brick.”

Yes, I ate a brick that had dynamite in it that is ready to explode at any minute. She told me that I need to take something to help me digest that brick. “Or a bicarbonate with water or a tepid ‘limonata’ .”

I just find this all so funny, you know, in the ironic way…my husband, the American, having heard the recipe, was like “yeah!!! Bring it on! I can’t wait for you to make these for me when I get home.” The Italian, having heard the same, was like, “no shit you feel terrible. Look what you just ate. That’s disgusting” And then offered up warm lemonade as the solution.

Culture clash.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Handfulls of nothing

Friend Mercedes called today to check on me. She always does when David is out of town.

“Did you knit today?” (this is quite thoughtful of her to ask since she doesn’t give a shit about knitting. She must give a shit about me in order to ask about knitting.)

“Yeah, I tried but I was really distracted. I couldn’t concentrate for more than 5 minutes on any one thing. Remember when I came back from the US last spring and all I could do was knit those little squares? Well, I felt like that today.”

“So, what did you make?”

“Well, I made these, um…(I wanted to say “wrist warmers” but knew neither of those words in Italian. So I said…) um, some mittens without fingers and no thumbs either.”

Mercedes aptly responded, “What’s left? Nothing! You going to sell those pairs of nothing you made today?”

“Yeah, for 10 euro.”

I’d really like to give you a photo of my pairs of nothing but I can’t seem to photograph my own hand with the other one. Think Cyndi Lauper and you’ll have some idea….or was that Madonna? Sometimes the 80’s are such a blur.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Last but not least...

The final post I will make this evening (are you bored of my posts yet? Are you wishing that I would get another virus so I will stop finally?)...

See this cute and fun-loving couple?

They are having an anniversary today. They are my parents. I think it's their 42nd anninversary, no wait, my sister Laurie is 42 so that math doesn't really work...or does it? Anyway...

Hey guys, happy anninversary. I'm sure glad that all the difficulties you had raising Laurie didn't cause you to divorce.

And, it's a big day in the extended family... This guy, nephew Max, turns 16.

In America this means, of course, that he got his driver's license today. (Trust me, he's more excited than he seems in that photo). Happy Birthday, Dude, Congratulations and please remember what I told you about not getting in an accidents.

Fried Funghi

If any of you have been to David’s blog you will already have seen this - I don’t care, you can see it again. If you haven’t, check this out:

Oh my god. Now that’s a porcini.

David left today for his little adventure on the Sea so I am left to eat those mushrooms alone. I asked a student of mine, who happens to be a chef at one of the better restaurants in San Remo, what I should do with it. He recommended frying it. Tonight I made a practice run with the little guy.

Oy was that tasty!!! And so simple…just a simple egg and bread crumb batter and deep fry. I must admit that I’m partial to anything that has been submerged in boiling oil and then covered in salt anyway. And given that today is Friday and all the world should be enjoying a fish fry at their favorite local hole-in-the-wall bar (or country club) like we all do in Wisconsin, the fact that my house now smells like Tubby Too’s Bar on Highway H is an added bonus to the porcini experience.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken wagers on anything…who wants to bet whether I can deep fry that big mother and eat the whole thing at one sitting?