Thursday, March 22, 2007


So, I think I’m ready. If the family walked into the house now…it would be ok. The fridge is clean, the floors are washed, there are clean sheets on all the beds, everything’s been dusted or at least spit shined (including my shoes), and David has done a bunch of stuff outside that I appreciate but couldn’t really list.

But they aren’t walking in the door. About now they are boarding a plane. Then there are the days we will spend in Tuscany.

Sometime around Wednesday they will enter the house. After our Australian pal spends the weekend, a Calabrian pal comes 3 times a day for 3 days to tend to the dogs, and of course, after the two dogs have spent 5 days without us in the house.

Everything I have done to prepare the house has been for naught. Oh well. Who cares, they are family.

Yep, they are family and I can’t wait to see them. And I’m blessed and honored that they are taking the time, energy and money to visit me so far away.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The creation....

I feel the need to squeeze some time to write a post into all my scrubbing, polishing and washing. You can call it spring cleaning if you want but it’s really mom-and-dad-are-coming-cleaning. I figure they know that their visits motivate us to do some of those things that we that we tend to put off normally, you know, like dusting. I figure they space out their visits just to make sure that these things get done on a regular basis…once a year, need it or not.

Anyway, I need to post because, well, because David asked me to. Actually, what he really said was, “I wonder what you will post about that!”

He said this right after he gently touched the ON button of the pellet stove, and it came on. Just like that, he pressed the button and it worked. It seems, however, given my last couple of posts he’s gotten a kind of, shall we say, “elevated” sense of himself…or at least how he thinks I might see him.

As I told him on the phone this morning when he called from work to ask if the stove was still working…”no, I don’t think you are god since you made the stove work (‘and the water’, I was thinking but didn’t say it). I think you might have missed the point of my last couple of blogs.”

But, just for fun, here you go, Honey… I’m calling it “the creation of heat”.

Sorry about that drawing...I really didn't mean to allude to ET, it was something more Sistine that I had in mind.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pick a team

Perhaps it’s because I’m “unaffiliated”. Maybe if I committed to one personal savior, to only one divine being, these things wouldn’t happen.

See this:

Yep, the famous pellet stove. It stopped working last night. Yep, just in time for a visit from the family, who I am trying to convince that I don’t live in camping conditions. No heat is not a big help in my argument.

So, what I don’t know is if this happened as a lingering consequence of the “what’s the problem? We have heat and hot, running water!” comment. Or if this happened as a result of a conversation that David and I had just yesterday.

We were talking about being off “the grid”. In many ways we have already left “the grid” - this grid being that of normal social structures, thinking and, well, general life. But this conversation was about the energy grid. We’ve been talking about ways to be totally self-sufficient here in Maberga. Because we live so close to the elements…or rather, are intensely aware of them, it has become very obvious how dependent we are on certain things. Things like water, heat, and a cooking surface. Anyway, I made the comment that I love the pellet stove because it is so much cleaner and easier than having a wood stove but, and I quote, “I hate being dependent on the technology of it. If the computer inside doesn’t work we are without heat.” (Actually, those last two words were different when I said them to David, they were one word that ended in ED, but I’m trying to stay family friendly here).

Yep, just a few hours after this comment, we’re fucked.

It’s something in the control panel. Damn computers.

So, I was kind of wondering if maybe there is a whole host of universal controllers who are trying to tell me to pick one of them. Maybe it’s not just one who is laughing at me, teaching me a lesson, punishing me, or being mean to me…maybe every time something happens it’s a different god trying to sway me toward his/her team. Or maybe they all got together on this one and decided it was time that I had a “be careful of what you wish for” experience.

Whatever, whoever….I got my wish. I’m currently not dependent on the technology of the pellet stove. I’m just cold.

Completely unrelated…Please welcome into this world Evelyn Ruth, born to dear friends Betty and Jeff on Sunday morning. Evelyn dear, you chose well. You’ve got great parents. And, your blanket is on it’s way.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

So, the FAMILY is descending on Italy next week. The whole clan – mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, and the three kids. It’s the first such attempt to all be together on European soil since David and I have moved here. Wish us luck.

Before the 9 of us settle down for several days of Ligurian life, we are going to have a little adventure in Tuscany. We’re going to Florence for a few days to see the sights, then to Lucca and the 5 Terre (which is technically Liguria).

David and I were talking last night about how funny and great it will be to be back in Florence. We haven’t been there in a lot years. When we first started our adventure here in Italy 7 years ago, on what was supposed to be a year’s sabbatical, we thought we would live in Florence. We stayed there a few weeks but didn’t really find what we were looking for, which we did find, eerily almost to every last detail, in Assisi. Good bye Michelangelo, hello Francis. We were talking about how interesting it will be to notice the changes in us, our reactions, and interactions with the city given all we’ve been through and learned since last there.

In anticipation of a 6 hour train ride, I’m picking a new knitting project to start. My criteria were these:

  1. It has to be a pattern already written down…nothing I make up myself that will require calculations, creativity, and a pen and paper. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.

  2. It can’t involve a lot of tricky stitches that require concentration and stitch patterns. I’ve got my family here for God’s sake. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do and I don’t want to have to continually tell them to shut up because I’m counting.

  3. I have to be able to use stash yarn Crayon (Knit Picks).

So I went to my favorite spring/summer Rowan magazine (Number 25) and chose this:

I love this sweater so much. In fact, I think I bought the magazine because of that sweater. I’ve started it 100 times and just have a really hard time making it past the first line, “Cast on 425 sts”. Given it fits all the criteria above, I thought now would be the time to actually make this sweater. I chose these nice Easter colors from the Crayon stash and this morning I began the marathon 425 cast on…and gave up for 101st time. *

Now I’m knitting this:

Can’t get much simpler than that!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clean my fridge. I’d hate to have my mom wasting her precious Italian holiday with Mr Clean and a rag because I left some gorgonzola in the cheese drawer too long.

*For the record, I did actually make the whole 425 sts but the combination of tiny needles and the texture of the yarn made for miserable knitting. Plus, that I didn’t check my gauge and that cute little sweater I like so much in the photo when I finished was going to fit David. While he does look good in pink, the style is all wrong for him.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


See this little window in our kitchen? Until the other day it had bars in it.
Bars like these.

They weren’t that intrusive. They didn’t really bother me. Actually, I never gave them much thought. As a general rule, I’m opposed to barred windows - they are a physical manifestation of fear and they make me sad. But with these, light still came in and we can’t open that window anyway so who cares if there are bars.

Plus, they were so ridiculous they didn’t even make me sad. I mean, really! Look at the size of that window! Who’s going to climb through that to get at us or our stuff? To compound the absurdity, when we bought the house the front door (right next to this window) was a worm eaten wooden monstrosity (like this one on our bedroom)
that even I, with my spaghetti string arms, could have broken open. And of course, there is also that little detail that the house is in the middle of NOWHERE on a gated, locked, private road. What were those people thinking when they spent energy and money to install those bars?

David hates barred windows even more that I do. So much so that he borrowed a circular-saw-like, bar-cutting, power-tool-thing (I’m sure it has a very household name that I’m just not now familiar with), and cut them out.

I can’t believe how much more light comes into the room now. It’s really incredible.

Kinda makes me wonder about all the other windows in my life that have bars – bars installed out of some ridiculous fear that serve no purpose but to keep out the light.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Who's in charge here?!

I want to know who is in charge of this universe – the creator or the current ruler, even the general manager would be fine - I don’t care. I just have some questions that need answering.

Top of the list is this one: Why is it that when I make an innocent comment like, “we have hot, running water,” within 24 hours you take the hot, running water away? Why do you do that?

Are you an evil ruler just trying to be mean and make life difficult? Are you a kind ruler with an amazing sense of irony? Are you the punitive type making me pay for, well, any number of things I’ve done in the past? Are you trying to teach me something? Or perhaps you are just bored and trying to keep yourself entertained at my expense?

It happened like this…Yesterday a couple of pals came by for a visit. They brought with them some friends of theirs who have lived in the area their whole lives and had never been to Maberga before and were a little curious. The husband friend of our friends did much gushing about the place. He just couldn’t believe the peace and serenity of the place. The natural way of life. The views. The house. He went on and on about how beautiful life must be here. His wife, on the other hand was noticeable silent. A few “hmmm”s and “si”s here and there from her but other than that no comment. At one point a little after the grand tour, husband says that he could move up here in a heart beat. Wife responded that HE would move here, she and their son would stay happily in San Remo, thank you very much.

This is not new to me. I haven’t yet met an Italian woman who would choose to live here. Like the thought of voluntarily coming to live here is ridiculous…didn’t their parents work really hard so they wouldn’t HAVE to live in the country? Obviously reruns of Green Acres never made it to Italy.

So after they left I was pondering this female aversion to Maberga life aloud with David. I made this innocent comment, “I don’t really understand the difference. It’s not like we have to raise animals or cultivate the land if we want to eat. The grocery store is probably closer to us then them. And, I mean really, we have heat and hot running water. What’s the big deal?”

And with that one innocent comment, I set in motion some …well… something in the universe that resulted, within 24 hours, in us not having hot water and then no water at all.

So I ask again: What is it?

If you are just a mean Controller of the Universe, well look, pick on someone else for a while. Stop listening to me when I speak.

If you are just being ironic, ok, it was funny the first 100 times. You can stop now, it’s not funny any more.

If I’m supposed to be paying for something, let me know what (you can alphabetize the list if that would make it easier) and I’ll get right on those restitutions.

If you’re trying to teach me something, you’re going to have to try a different approach. Obviously I don’t understand since I haven’t learned it the first 100 times.

If you’re bored, pick up some needles and give knitting a try. Please leave my water supply alone.

PS. Since I wrote this post this morning, the water situation has be rectified. My husband sought out the problem, found it, fixed it and then promptly took a faint inducing fall that brought the neighbors running. He is now hobbling around with something like a pulled muscle or maybe something torn. He’s going to have to write to the chief of his universe to find out what is up with THAT turn of events.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

O "Fatto a mano" o "fatto in casa"?

Oh my goodness, what a busy weekend I’ve had. I was just a creating machine! I had so much finished product that I was actually able to step back and say, “wow, that is some damn fine handmade stuff” or, alternatively, took a big sigh and said “wow, that is some serious homemade stuff.”

Yes, the difference between the HANDmade and HOMEmade is blaringly obvious in my stuff.

Here are my definitions of the two:

Handmade – artisan quality craft. When you look at it you can tell that is was made by hand but is has an artistic sense about it and a certain threshold of quality in workmanship. It has commercial as well as sentimental value.

Homemade – craft made at home (or at school). When you look at it you can tell that is was made by hand, period. Sentimental value only…and that’s only if you are lucky.

Some examples:
--the sweater I knit for my husband for Valentines day 8 years ago that would have fit a freight train with chimpanzee arms perfectly – HOMEMADE
--grandma Sally’s Christmas mittens with ever increasing hands and never increasing thumbs – HOMEMADE
--every ashtray made by every 5 year old for mother’s day – HOMEMADE
--friend Teddy’s pipes (found here) – HANDMADE

Here’s how I came out on the weekend goods:

I’d like to introduce Amilia …homemade.

Ok, so even though she received homemade status…I was so taken with her (sentimental value), particularly her hair, that I cut my own hair to look like hers.

Sorry no photo of the actual ‘do. You’ll have to take my word that I now have a pixie cut with bangs (it’s not blue however)….VERY homemade haircut.

I made more bracelets …homemade

And Rings …homemade.

And then….these… handmade.

Ummm, you can’t really tell from my photos (homemade), you will have to trust me. I am so excited about them, well, I could just, well…be excited about them.

Here is a synopsis:

*In Italian you say “OR this OR that”, so when Italians speak English, they do the same. It is one of the things mis-said so often that it’s started sounding right to me. No, you aren’t mistaken, I do teach English.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lunar eclipses...look out.

Excuse me...I might be absent for another day or so. You see we came home from a dinner party the other night and I found these on the counter.

I thought to myself, "damn, I gotta clean out those cupboards, the vegetation is growing on itself....and moving out of the cupboard...on their own!".

Oh, I was so mistaken. When we walked in they rolled over and promptly took us as captives. The night happened to be the full lunar eclipse here. Apparently these guys were afraid of the dark on the moon so they came to Maberga. They found our light on.

I'll write again just as soon as Larry, Spikey and Spud let us free.

Friday, March 02, 2007


I wouldn’t actually say that Spring has sprung here in Maberga but it sure is in the process of springing. I have evidence…

Good thing I finished this….

Phewwwww, just in time for the season change!

A little about the pattern. It’s from Rowan Magazine 22 and is called Bella. It actually wasn’t as bad to knit as I made it sound in previous posts. I just don’t like knitting scarves. This is not the fault of pattern goddess Kim Hargreaves (I sure miss her in the new Rowan books. If you do too you can find her here). I was a little puzzled by the lacey end-pieces. Do you think she meant for them to have the shape of an a-symmetrical flip-do?