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?

I am woman...

Ok, so I’ve really been having trouble posting on blogspot. I don’t know why…perhaps another virus…who knows. I’ve been wanting to post this blog for so long. Here it is…

I am woman…hear me SEW!

Yes. It’s so true and I’m so happy. The other day, it happened to also be David’s birthday but I didn’t let this stop me…even though I didn’t buy any gift for him…let me say again, “I am woman hear me sew!” I bought myself an early birthday present.

What can I do? What could I do? As the Italians say (which I also say ALL THE TIME NOW because I like it) e piu forte di me. (It’s stronger than me… what can I do?).

This is my first sewing machine. Friend, Mette, taught me to sew last summer before she lent me her machine for the year. It opened a whole new world to me! When she wanted hers back this summer I was destroyed. I tried sewing the linings in the bags by hand – disaster. It seems that every knitting project I that pops in my mind now involves sewing. So, what could a girl do?

Become a woman and buy a sewing machine, of course!

It even has a monogramming selection. Guess what I’m going to be knitting myself this fall? You betcha, a monogrammed sweater…I don’t care that preppy went out in the 80’s. In fact I might even make it pink and green. Why not? I mean, heck...have a look at the very hippy poncho (on the table next to my new Toyota) that I finally finished. How much more 70's can you get than that? Pink and green monogram seems like a logical progression.

Another birthday

This guy had a birthday Friday. He’s 47. That’s old

I could go on and on about all the great things about him but I’ll just give this one anecdote. It pretty much sums up why I’m glad the guy was born and why it’s fun for me to hang out with him while he’s living on this planet.

David aspires to live a rich life, he does not aspire to be a rich man. He rarely confuses the means for the end. Here’s a classic “Davidism”. While at work the other day, his boss asked him if he likes to sail. I must interject here that David’s job, as it were, is seasonal. He works maybe 9 or 10 months a year. He is paid a monthly salary that, if I were to give an exact number, most of you reading would go into some kind of financial panic for us and start a fund raising drive immediately. He makes enough to keep us fed, watered, heated, insured and happy. (you’d be surprised how little money that actually takes…but I digress). Next week he will be sailing as a guest on a private yacht from San Remo to Corsica for a 5 day trip, just he, his boss and a skipper.

You're quite a guy, happy birthday, honey.

new posts

I am going to TRY to post several times today. I have been, for some unknown reason, unable to post for the past week, this does not mean, however that I have been lazy or neglecting you all. You should find many new posts today or as many as the computer will allow. I hate machinery with an attitude.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mature hands, wiser than their years

Did I tell you or did I tell we have one clean studio and one finished blanket

Here's a close up on the blanket. I have just one thing to say...Granny.

I would love to stay and reflect on the finished lap-warmer, offering up possible reasons that a 36 year old woman can create something that looks so, um, well so much like this - and I will some day soon, but now I have to run. The Danes are heading back to the land of the Vikings on Thursday and they invited us to come over to help them eat through the contents of their fridge.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

No blanket, but...

No, I haven’t finished the blanket. I even had “the bridge” on my side. That’s what Italians call the practice of making a long weekend out of holiday that happens to fall in the middle of the week. In this case Tuesday was “ferragosto” – a holiday of which no one quite knows the origins. It is celebrated by not going to work, and usually involves bbqs or picnics or some sort of outdoor gathering with friends. So, not only did no one go to work on Tuesday but most people took Monday off also to “make the bridge”. Myself included in this lovely tradition. Anyway, so really I have no excuse for not finishing the blanket. Well, except this…are you ready?

Whoa. Check out that bedroom! Architectural Digest look out, the Cornwells are on it now.

You may notice (if not, I will point out) that the wooden ceiling beams are much darker now. This was one of the things that got in the way of my working on the laced border (which is, by the way, all I have left to finish on the blanket). You see, our terrific construction friend Agusto decided to stain the one main beam in the room but left the others undone. We, being the sticklers for detail that we are, decided that just wouldn’t do. So David got out the 20’ extension ladder WARNING: MOM AND DAD IF YOU ARE READING YOU SHOULD PROBABLY STOP HERE and up we went. David did most of them, precariously leaning the extended extension ladder on the ceiling. But then when one person had to hold the ladder while the other went up to do the middle bits, we did a little strength/weight analysis of ourselves and decided it was best if David held the ladder and I climbed. I won’t kid you, I was scared. In fact, I might have messed my shorts from fear if it hadn’t been for the fact that David was below me holding my life in his hands and I didn’t want to distract him. So now they are stained and will never be stained again, well, not by me anyway.

You may also wonder how we got that 3 ton rug hanging on the wall up oh so high. That was all David. I just stood below praying that the extension ladder/ power tool/ husband combo wouldn’t end in blood.

That’s about all the stupidity that was involved – MOM AND DAD, YOU CAN COME BACK NOW. The rest is just clean up and organization, and really a lot of vacuuming. I don’t have my studio back yet because there are still tons of stuff in there that we don’t know where to put now because the room is too pretty to clutter with crap. I’m anticipating that the clean up will be done, well, probably about the time the blanket is. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 12, 2006

generosity and generalizations

Neighbor Gianni just came to the door asking for David. David was upstairs adding some kind of seal to the floor so I can mop it in the future (yeah, that will happen – not. Who mops their bedroom?). I saw Gianni walk back down the road after only a minute. So I go upstairs to check out the gossip (Gianni either knows or is at the center of Maberga gossip – a good guy to know. He was also one of the owners of our house before us…the same one that had sellers’ remorse after the closing, leading him to rip out all our electricity one day. I’ll save that story for another day).

“What did Gianni have to say?”

“Oh, nothing. He just wanted to give us this.”

You see, the other day the wind blew open the door and did this:

Gianni noticed we needed some glass so today he brought us some. Actually it’s plexiglass that he found in his warehouse. Isn’t that nice?

Earlier this morning I was doing a little hemming on these:

Ok ok ok, I didn’t hem them at all. I just cut them off at the proper length. Those swell turquoise hip-hugging bell-bottoms were one of the pairs of pants that neighbor Lisa gave because they don’t fit her daughter any more. I LOVE hand-me-downs, LOVE ‘EM! They are like shopping at a thrift store without paying. What could be better?! Anyway, I’m getting a little away from my point here…

After these two experiences I got to thinking about how insanely generous Italians are. (I recognize that that’s a generalization but, in addition to hand-me-downs, I love generalizations. Some people are bothered by generalizations but I just consider them working hypotheses based on social observations that are easily disproved) I started looking around the house and noticing all the gifts we’ve been given – and I mean given, just because, not for a birthday or Christmas or anything. Here’s what I found:

hand-me-downs-boy-style from friend Flavio

tomatoes from mother of friend Mimmo, Adelgisa

there's also some chili peppers in that photo from neighbor Franco

a sink from neighbor Giuseppe (Giuseppe’s nephew, Carmello also gave us a hide-a-bed when we first bought the house and had nothing to sleep on but we got rid of it when we moved our couch and bed in)

an enormous wooden rolling pin from friend Alexis

a smelly soap thing for the bathroom from friend Chiara

home-made goat cheese from neighbor Lisa (sorry about the photo, the cheese is circled)

a pressure-cooker from friend Mercedes

Folks, this is just downstairs. If I added the stuff from upstairs the list would be 10 times longer but unfortunately I can’t because, well, because the upstairs looks like this:

Yes, we made the ultimately stupid home improvement mistake of not covering all our stuff in plastic before the work started. Look at that dust! Idiots we are. Please don’t ask me where my yarn stash is. I don’t want to think about it. Back to generosity…

I’m not trying to say here that only Italians are generous. I know a lot of generous Americans but I wouldn’t really say that as a people we are generous. And, lord knows that The Danes (Mette and Teddy) have been way generous to us. But I only know three Danes so even I won’t make a generalization about the Danes as a group. And the English? Well, English friend Natalie did give me her yarn stash just because she wanted to. That was really generous but again I don’t have enough samples in my experiment to form an hypothesis.

This was the same stash from whence comes the yarn for the STILL unfinished blanket-that-is-really-a-lap-warmer. Leave me alone! I had to work last week. I’ve promised myself to finish it this weekend. Now that I’ve told you all about that promise I better do it. Dang, I can feel the pressure already. I gotta go knit now. Bye

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

And the work continues....

This morning we woke to the sound of pounding and tumbling coming from upstairs. I was having a hard time getting up due to a late night with the Danes and their visiting friend (sometimes known as “the other American”) Tom. David said, “I think Agusto is doing the wiring.” I didn’t really say anything but it sure sounded a lot louder than wiring.

Sure enough, when David and I wandered up the side of the house to go to work we saw this:

Actually, that photo was taken several hours later. What we really saw at 8am I wasn’t able to get a photo of because I was in a bit of shock (and running late for work). See that channel running up the side of the house? That used to be our chimney. It was terribly ugly and had a huge crack in it. I don’t think that I even have an old photo to post as evidence of how awful this tube was. It kind of emerged from the wall there at the bottom of the channel, held in place with an excess of cement and went outside the wall up through the tiled roof. We could never figure out why it was installed in such a hideous way until the other day it hit David. The previous owner (of the downstairs) couldn’t run his chimney through the upstairs wall since he didn’t own it. So, obviously he would do what any do-it-yourselfer would do - create the Frankenstein of chimneys.

Anyway, Agusto, who now obviously feels a certain investment in the appearance of our house, decided that it needed to come down. So, this morning he jack-hammered it out of the wall, installed that little vent for the pellet stove, and started at the job of filling in the channel. He is doing such an amazing job that this 1’x7’ strip of wall will make the rest of the wall look like shit. Agusto suggested that we tuck-point the whole house like this, “you know, David, when you are retired.” Yeah, we’ll just wait on that job until then.

When we came back at noon I was able to watch an episode from the Italian version of King of the Hill. How does this happen when I don’t own a tv? Yeah, well, we had the live version happening right out there by our ex-chimney. There were 4 guys hanging out by the wall drinking beers and each giving a commentary on the work, the ex-chimney, the weather, and I’m sure, life in general. Actually, they weren’t talking much, they were mostly just standing there drinking cans of beer. Then Agusto started working at cleaning the stones that he had just cemented in place and the rest of us watched. I felt so Italian, there we were, 5 of us watching one man working. That lasted about 5 minutes until it was time for lunch.

I don’t mean here to give the impression that Italians are lazy. The 2 spectators for the Cornwell Casa Circus (other than us), Franco and Gianni, are on holiday (which happens for all Italians in August) so they have time to do, well, what a lot of Italians like to do which is watch the action and then talk about it. And Agusto and Andrea have been doing anything but slacking. Check out the incredible work done in just a week upstairs.

(We decided against a built in fireplace and to use our old wood stove instead. I think it looks cute, no?)

Check this out…

Yep, that hole in the wall is going to be a SWITCH. An actual light switch! So, like, when I walk into the room, I can push a button that turns on a light. Whoa. Be still my heart – I can’t stand the technology.

And check this out…

Those are the plugs. Look at how many of them there are! And they aren’t connected by hanging, exposed wires – they are hidden in the wall! Oh my god. This is too much.

I would like to say that my blanket-that-is-really-just-a-lap-warmer is experiencing the same progress but I cannot. The work has been slowed up considerably since I bought this (I’m sorry to say) wool/acrylic blend for the last few squares which is less than inspiring to work with.

Now I’m going to go to the patio to stare at the full moon over the sea for a while wishing dear step-daughter Emily a happy birthday and then hit the couch.

Happy happy birthday to you Emily.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A wedding

These two beautiful people got married yesterday. They are our friends Mercedes and Flavio. The guy in the sash helped them get married. He might be the mayor of SanRemo but no one was quite clear about that.

Here, you can actually see them. Don't they look happy?

There was a lot of hugging. A lot of hugging.

There were also a lot of weddings. The guy in the sash will marry all and any folks that sign up for a particular day. Given this is the last Saturday before the big Italian holidays in August, there were a lot of weddings. Some how Mercedes and Flavio got go first (I suspect there were some string pullings involved)

There was also an insane amount of eating and drinking. The food was all seafood, all 6 courses, well, except for the sorbet and the cake, of course. It was elegant and appropriately over the top.

There were also a lot of Olivos. That entire table was family members, the majority being from Mercedes' Olivo Clan - 8 siblings and their spouces. Flavio's family was able to squeeze in at the other end.

Now the happy couple is off to honeymoon in Greece (sorry, no photos!)

Congratulations, you two. It was a beautiful day and we feel honored to have been included.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The apple doesn't fall too far...

Remember how I told you on Monday that the room would be finished by Wednesday? Yeah, slight communication failure (David’s fault, David’s fault, David’s fault, not mine, David’s fault! – I’m so mature, aren’t I? Anyway, now that he has a blog he can spin it however he wants. Uh no). The work was done on Wednesday but only the top part.

I’m so pleased, it looks terrific. Agusto is really talented.

Speaking of talented, the other construction guys we had before were NOT. The other guys we had working for us during phase one of the building renovation were the anti-Agustos. Untrustworthy and untalented. So Agusto is having to do a lot of make up work that the other guys messed up – electrical work mostly that they messed up, that’s a little scary, no? Just thinking about those two guys makes my blood boil.

Well, live and learn. Now we have Agusto and his son. Here they are…see the resemblance? Mostly in the hats – a generation apart but, well, that’s usually the case with a father and a son.

Speaking of resemblance, check out our dog.

Can you see my beer drinking tendencies around the mouth area, and the forehead of meat eating David (right off the grill) .

The apple doesn’t fall too far.