Monday, July 31, 2006


Just a few things to update you on:

1. Work has begun on the room upstairs. Yippeeeee. Let me tell you, Agusto and his son Andrea are really cruising. In just one day they have already done this around the whole room:

David and I had talked a lot about trying to do this work ourselves to save some money…and of course, have that great satisfaction that you get when you do it yourself – whatever. God am I grateful we opted to hire someone. The few bucks we would have saved doing it ourselves would have been spent 10-fold on either medical bills as we fell from the scaffolding, on disaster clean up as we wrecked the place from complete lack of knowing what the f%^&% we are doing, or to lawyers for our divorce. We definitely made the right decision here. Agusto thinks the walls will be done by Wednesday and then he’ll start the fireplace. Did I tell you we planned so far ahead in this project as to remember the room could use heat?

2. Last night was the San Erasmo festival in Arma di Taggia (Erasmo is their patron saint). It was one of those incredible evenings when you say to yourself, “is this really my life?” You know the kind of night, when you find yourself sitting at a seaside restaurant having a 4 hour meal with 20 people coming from 5 different countries eating 18 different kinds of grilled fish and watching a fireworks display over the water. The coolest part of this festival is when they light candles and put each one in a little wooden boat and sail them out into the sea. That was really cool. I tried to take a picture to share with you all but it just turned out black.

3. Despite the heat I am still working on the blanket that Ruffino tried to warn me against last week. I have decided however that it will not be the full 48 square size, maybe 16 or 20 squares. It’ll be more of a lap warmer than a king-sized bed afghan.

4. It’s tomato season. Yesterday neighbor Franco dropped off some produce from his garden.

Let’s see if you can determine which I bought at the store, which comes from Franco and which we grew here at Casa Cornwell. (no, they aren’t supposed to be cherry tomatoes)

5. Last but not least, I would like to announce that we are now a two-blog family. For the record, David actually had his blog first and helped me start mine. He has, however, been a little, shall we say “relaxed” about maintaining it. You can find David’s take on things at

I best be going now since it is approaching sleep time and my husband who promised that HE would sleep on the kitchen floor every night during the construction because he didn’t want an extra mattress cluttering up the place has just settled into the couch - aka: MY temporary bed. I predict some wrestling coming on.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Good bye stones

Today I’m mourning a little. All the sand, and the cement mixer, and the everything needed to plaster our bedroom walls has been delivered. It’s sitting outside waiting for the work to begin on Monday. Actually it’s sitting right on the terrace where we buried Sparky and planted a rose bush, that has since also died. But I’m not mourning the loss of the Sparky shrine. We can rebuild that again later, in a different spot or even the same spot but do it better this time. It will give us a chance to remember her again and talk about her and celebrate her life.

No, now I’m mourning the loss of the bedroom as it is. As it is in all it’s squalid splendor. I sat on the floor in the room that is now occupied only by the bed, staring at the walls. At night the stone looks really beautiful. I got to doubting my decision to plaster over them.

Maybe this all sounds a little dramatic. It’s just home improvement for God’s sake. It’s just sand and water and sweat and scaffolding. Maybe it is dramatic but I get that way with change.

Ok, ok, I know this sounds funny coming from a gal who has made all the momentous changes that I have in the past few years. Most of them without even a second thought. From the gal who has not lived in the same house for more than two years in all of her adult life. Yes, I’m being a little dramatic but let me go with it for a while, will ya?

David and I had cocktail hour in that empty room yesterday. We were dreaming and scheming about how we want the room to be. We were trying to figure out how we want to best use the space, where the fireplace should go, what the feel of the room should be. This is where the mourning started for me…or at least it came into focus.

The room will become a proper room. It will be sealed from drafts (we hope), the walls will be smooth (well, smoother), we will have heat and be able to use it 12 months of the year. We will be able to put armchairs in front of a fireplace where we can sit and read in the evening. It will be a place to go to be clean. A place where you can walk barefoot. In other words, the opposite of what it is now.

Maybe I have too much time on my hands, but this got me to thinking about how living the way we have, in camping-like quality, has affected my frame of mind - my perspective on life, my goals, my wants, what I consider beautiful and what I celebrate.

Let me give you an example. I LOVE clean sheets. I hate washing sheets – they're a real bitch to hang on the line. I hate making beds. I really hate putting pillows in their cases. But I love clean sheets. I love the feeling of having just showered and climbing (or leaping as I’m wont to do) into clean sheets. The feeling is so luxurious. It might be the most luxurious thing I’ve ever experienced. Way better than strawberries and champagne, better than really expensive shoes.

Will this still be true when the whole room is clean, and sealed, and, well, normal? Will I start to take for granted clean sheets, like I used to when they were so easily attained and therefore lose the biggest luxury I know? Will I lose the freedom that comes from being able to put on the same dirty house dress that I’ve worn for a week? I mean, in a clean room you kind of want to be clean, no?

There is also all the opportunities that accompany loss and change. I don’t know yet what the new room will give me. I assume that I will find new luxuries, and develop new habits that give a sense of freedom. I will look for them, to be sure.

Perhaps I'm over thinking this. Sometimes I do that. Maybe a week from now I'll just be really happy that there are no freakin' worms.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


So, I went shuffling into the office of Costa Ligure today for one of my lessons. Costa Ligure is a great company that makes many tasty salsas like pestos and pates. Several of their employees are my students thanks to pals Mercedes and Flavio who both work there. Today’s lesson was with the big boss of the place, Daniele. As I was saying, I shuffled into the main office. I saw Flavio there and he said, “What’s the matter with you?”

“I don’t know. The other night, completely out of the blue my back tightened up and now I can hardly walk.” I explained.

“Oh, yeah. Well that happened because you sweat and then got some air. It happens all the time.”

Ok. So I’ve heard about this colpo di aria before. It’s when you suddenly get a cold or a stiff neck or something after foolishly exposing yourself to some breeze. Every Italian I’ve ever met believes in this hit of air. When the breeze hits you in the wrong way, or really at all, you will get sick or have aches and pains. As a general rule Italians stay away from fans and when they have AC it is set at, well, room temperature, nothing cooler. If a grocery store exposed its customers to that icy blast that Americans face everything they go into the supermarket they would also be exposing themselves to massive law suits because every Italian would sue them for the colpo di aria and all its damaging consequences.

I said, “yeah, right, Flavio. That’s just Italian mythology. No such thing exists.”

“Why do you think Americans are different than the rest of the us? Of course you can get hit too.”

With that, I shuffled upstairs to have my lesson.

“You don’t look so energetic today, Lynn.” Daniele tells me.

“I know. Suddenly the other night my back tightened up and now I can hardly walk.”

“Ah yes. You were sweating and then got some air. Do you sleep in front of a fan?”

“Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I do. As I have done for the past two months of unbearably hot weather – without any back problems, I might add.”

“Well, you must be sweating more now. It is really hot. You should turn the fan off.”

I used to laugh at this explanation of ailments in the past, but now, well, hell…who am I to say? Ok, I did laugh a little at the thought that a breeze has left me immobile and I really laughed at Flavio’s “old fashioned” remedy (it involves a burning cotton ball, an empty glass and about 5 minutes – I’m not yet prepared to try it but if I do, I’ll let you know). Anyone have any evidence for me to either prove or disprove the breeze theory?

I think I know what my Italian friends would say…”Do you have a backache?” “yes” “there you go, evidence!”

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Worms be gone!

I guess it's really going to happen. The work in the bedroom that I talked about at the beginning of the summer. Remember that? Remember that construction guy I was waiting for? Yeah, he never came. But now we have AGUSTO! I so happy about this.

Sometimes in Italy you make plans for things, you have the best intentions and still you just know that it's not going to happen. Or at the very least it's not going to happen for a very long time. Take the water project that we Maberga people planned. I just had a feeling that that was too good to be true that we would have aquaduct water by the end of the summer. I didn't know the mayor was going to go to jail, and that would be the thing to hold up our project. But I did have that feeling that the water wouldn't be coming this summer.

It was the same with the work on the house. I just had that feeling that a number of unforeseen things would come in the way of my having a worm-free bedroom.

But now, I know it will happen. Here's my evidence.
1. Agusto is doing the work. Agusto is a friend of ours who also happens to be a muratore (constuction guy). He is honest, clever, a great worker and he does great work. Everyone knows this which is why we couldn't get him before. He's booked about a year in advance. We finally talked him into saying yes to doing the work about a month ago on the condition that we just wait until he has a whole in his schedule. It happened much sooner than we thought and we are thrilled. He stopped by yesterday to talk about the work and actually do things like plan where the big pile of sand for cement is going to go. Agusto said he's starting and his word is good.
2. Despite the fact that we have thunder every afternoon we never get any rain. Today we did. Evidence number two that we are planning house work. All the stuff that is currently in the bedroom (a bed, two wardrobes, bookshelves, a couch, two tables plus all our clothes, books, computer gear, etc) will need to go somewhere. Much of it outside, probably. It rained today, probaby every day that we will need to have things stored outside.
3. Immediately after Agusto left yesterday evening, my back inexplicably started to stiffen. By the end of the evening I could hardly walk. Today, more of the same. Remember evidence number 2 where I said all that stuff needs to be moved? Yep, I'm having back problems...the first time ever in my life and it's happening just as I need to start moving things.

I guess it's really going to happen.

Every knitter needs a dog

Last night at dinner Bente-from-Denmark-who-is-Bente-staying-in-Montalto requested that I post a photo of Ruffino.

Here ya go, Bente.

Cute, isn’t he? Just a swimmin’ there with his favorite toy, a lemon.

Boy was I thinking about how cute he is this morning when I woke up to find this on the floor

which used to be a part of this.

Thanks Ruffino, ol’ pal. You’ve only just destroyed the first of 48 squares that I need for a blanket I’m working on. A blanket that is 48 of those lovely squares with all those bobbles, and leaves and the other tricky stitches that make you actually have to count while you’re knitting. Did I mention that I need 48 of those and you just ate one of them? Thanks. That’s great.

Perhaps Ruff was really doing me a favor. We are having a record hot summer, 110 degrees by 9am with no rain. What on earth would possess me to knit an wool blanket? I’m sure Ruffino was just trying to help me. He was trying to tell me that knitting a wool blanket is really a bad idea right now. Yeah, I’m sure that’s what he was thinking

Like he was helping David to garden when he used to chew through the grape vines. Which, by the way, David is convinced he was doing.

On the outside chance that David is right and our dog has these higher order thinking skills, then I should probably hide this other bit of knitting I’ve been working on.

I needed to start this project because when it gets too hot to work on the wool blanket I like to switch to this 40lb wool poncho. I especially like to try it on at noon when the temp reaches about 120. Yep, better hide that one from Ruffino, my smart little helper.

ps. is that the hippiest looking poncho you've ever seen or is it just me?!

pss. for all my english-is-not-my-first-language readers..."hippiest" is very different from "hippest". Two different words, two different meanings - two different ponchos.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

wonderful water

Sorry sorry sorry...I'm been a little absent. Well, just absent from you. I've actually been here at home but I was entertaining. House guests are now gone....I'll try to write more.

Being a little tired as I am, how about a random post.

Water was the theme of the visit from Jacopo and Amy. Jacopo is a friend of ours from way back when (he's Italian, in case you couldn't tell from his name...and the J is pronounced as a Y). David and I met him in Greece about 8 years ago when we were traveling before we settled for our year sibatical in Assisi. It's really because of him that we ended up moving to Italy. He and his girlfriend, Amy (she's american) came for a visit to say good bye. Amy is wisking Jacopo away to live in the land of the free - San Francisco.

Anyway, as I was saying WATER was the theme. Unfortunately this doesn't mean that it rained. It didn't. We're still waiting for that. However it does mean that we got to play in the water. One day we had a picnic at the river.

I love the river. It's quiet, no one is around, you just park, walk across that great Roman bridge and dive in. The views are pretty lovely too.

The next day we had a Sea experience. Slightly different experience given that the beaches are PACKED in July and August in Italy, there's a ton of traffic, and parking sucks. The view was pretty lovely though.
And I got to collect sea stones. I love sea stone. I love collecting sea stones - me and all the other kids at the beach.

Speaking of sea stones...I've actually been collecting them for quite some time just because I like to. Seems now that all that work was for a purpose.

The other day David decided to replaster the wall in the kitchen that still has the "popcorn effect". Remember the popcorn effect? That nasty thing that they used to do to ceilings of houses in the 70's? We have a whole wall of it in our kitchen, except ours is cement so you can just pick them off. We used to have a whole wall until David got to work on it. Now we have half a wall (work interrupted to entertain) of popcorn.

See how smooth the wall is now? That bumpy area around the faucet where it says 'before' will soon be a mosaic of sea stones. I can't wait. Let me at it!!!

Oh, back to the water theme. Completely out of the blue these wonderful trucks arrived the other day to deliver us some water.

A full tank of water reserves and we hadn't even asked for it! What a sense of security. Just makes a girl want to go do some laundry.

Friday, July 14, 2006

a new recipe, from an old favorite....

I've been bored lately with our food. David is doing a low carb diet (ie: give-me-all-the-meat-you-can-find diet). Plus he loves to grill. So every night we grill flesh. Sometimes, when I can't face another dead animal on my plate, I make some pasta or cous cous or rice something for myself. This poses problems of it's own because we can never time it right so that my pasta isn't sticking together because I'm waiting for his chicken legs to pass throught the pink stage or he isn't impatiently waiting with a plate of pork collecting flies because my water hasn't boiled yet.

Tonight I thought I found the perfect solution. This morning I went to my favorite cookbook - The Moosewood. Yes, it's a vegetarian cookbook, I usually add meat to every recipe but still, I like where they are coming from. Today I found a recipe for "fish in a pocket". Cool. I'll make that little aluminium pocket with the fish and all the tasty flavors they suggest and have David toss it on the grill with his steak...or whatever flesh he chooses for tonight.

So here I go, aluminium pad waiting...I add a salmon steak, a tomato, some garlic, an onion, oil, lemon juice, cilantro...great. It smells wonderful. I cover it with more aluminium and "make it air tight". I bring it out to David as he is ready to throw his meat on the fire. After just a few minutes, and at the same time he pulls them both off. I'm thinking this is working well. I put some steamed spinach on his plate as a side for his flesh and some cous cous on mine as a bed for my "fish pocket".

David plops the aluminium packet on my plate and very casually says, "oh, you are having jiffy- pop-fish for dinner. Tell me how it is."

Yes, I had jiffy-fish for dinner.

And it was freaking good.

Monday, July 10, 2006

a letter to France

Dear France,

Smell our pits.

We win. You lose.


PS. We have better wine and cheese, too.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


So, my “knitted bags” phase is over (at some point there will be a group shot and patterns are available to anyone that asks). I’ve moved onto, or back to would be more accurate, what has been a reoccurring interest of mine throughout my knitting tenure…little dollies.

As I was sitting there i-cording an arm (why are i-cords involved in everything I knit these days? As of a week ago I’d never made an i-cord and now I’ve done like 100…anyway, back to my post) I got to wondering about my interest in knitting little dolls. It’s quite contrary to my nature, actually. I tend to knit things that are useful like sweaters, and hats and checkerboards. Dolls?

Let’s pretend we’re at the therapist’s office for a minute, shall we?

Therapist: Lynn, could your unexplained interest in dolls come from something in your childhood?

Lynn: Well, Doc, do you mind if I call you doc? Looking back on it…I didn’t really play with dolls. I had one Barbie. Well, no, I didn’t have a Barbie – my sister had the Barbie, I was stuck with her shorter and much flatter cousin, Skipper. Skip was my only experience with dolls…except for that one time my sister let me play with her Barbie while we were in the car and I accidentally threw her out of the window where she was promptly run over by the car behind us resulting in her having one collapsed boob. Of course I'm talking about Barbie not my sister.

Therapist: So you seem to subconsciously relate dolls with breasts.

Lynn: Oh, look, Doc, our time is up! See you next week?

PS: Do I have you wondering if my knitted dolls are voluptuous? Judge for yourself:

Seems as though my interest in little dolls has more to do with finding a use for my “knitted egg cozies”. Remember them? Recognize those little sweaters that those little dolls are wearing?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hi. Perhaps you’ve been wondering what’s happened to me. Perhaps not, but I’ll tell you anyway. Actually, I’m not in a real talkative mood tonight so I will rely heavily on photos.

Wow, check your shoes before you put them on…

Found him on a recent walk with Ruffino. Something got to him before I did as he is missing his head and his tail. Makes him easier to photograph.

Whoa, check both shoes…

Found him living in the space between the insulation and that bamboo that I call the ceiling in my studio. Ever see a mouse pee? Yeah, me neither until the other day.

Staying with the critter theme, I found these on a trip to the river to swim with Ruffino…

Are those the smallest frogs you’ve ever seen? They’re so small you probably can’t even see them, right? Trust me, there are frogs in that photo and they are small.

Here are a few other shots from the swimming day just because they are beautiful.

That’s an old Roman bridge. Cool, huh?

Speaking of Italian things (how was that for a segway?), Viva Italia! We went to the piazza in Taggia to watch the World Cup game - Italy vs Germany (that would be soccer, in case you were wondering).

Check this out…

That flag is bigger than the car behind it. Everyone was happy.

You might remember that I was knitting up a storm for an artisan market, try to forget it. I am.

This is what I did all day since I wasn’t helping the hoards of people who weren’t buying things from me….

Yep, just watching the world go by.

At least the only critters involved were the stuffed ones on my table.