Friday, February 27, 2009


So, as I mentioned in my last post, I had a little run in with one of our neighbors - a water issue. No surprise there. Also not a big surprise that when a hot-headed, short-tempered southern Italian started yelling at me, I yelled back. It seems that I possess all the same traits as my neighbor, plus, unlike my neighbor... I'm always right. He must not have known that or he wouldn't have gotten into it with me. Instead of going into the whole ugly thing again let me try to summarize:


L: He's not here.


(a note here: he was actually speaking italian)


(another note: I was actually speaking Italian. Well, kind of. It seems that adrenaline doesn't improve my language skills)











Ok, I'll just stop there where it went down hill quickly. You get the drift. Two pissed off, belligerent, hot heads yelling at each other.

So then yesterday, the neighbor came up again. Again asking for David.

This time, instead of yelling he started explaining. He explained where all the water comes from. He explained who has rights to what vein (not surprisingly, what he was telling me was rather different than what he told us 6 years ago when he was trying to sell us his dead father's house, which we bought...partially because of the abundance of water rights we would have...which we some how lost in the 6 years since we've moved in). He explained where all the tubing is, when in went in, who put it in, and how much it cost (in Lire).

Then he explained why he was disconnecting the tube that carries water to our house from the tube that actually has WATER flowing through it and attaching it to a completely dry tube.

Since I figured that all this calm explaining was probably as close to an apology as I was going to get from him, I gave him the best version of an apology that I could by calmly asking him (and not screaming swear words at him in every language I can) how I was supposed to get water.

"You just have to clean the spring. There's plenty of water."

Fine. I can do that. I bit my tongue when the obvious question came to mind, "why do you get the already flowing water and I have to clean the spring?" Of course, had I asked him that, he would have stared at me as if I were thick since he had just got done explaining that HE has rights to the water from Lake Geneva if he wants it and we have rights to that trickle that comes through some rocks behind a the forest of cane.

"Can you show me what I have to clean?"

"Sure. Do you OWN a rake?"

"of course we have a rake. Just show me the spot. I'll clean it this afternoon."

I thought it best for everyone if I waited til I was alone to pull this out ...

My new friend showed me this and was off.

Sporting my rubber boots and armed with my handleless rake, I went at it. (****)

Ruff was a big help.

After minimal work (which included extracting the tube from the mud UNDER that puddle and shoving my toothpick sized arm down into it past my elbow to unplug the blockage), I heard the water start flowing.

It was beautiful, flowing music. Nothing STACCATO about it.

PS: I'd like to add here that the neighbor came up later, checked out my work and then did a great job explaining to me how my own water system works - the tubes, the taps, the pressure, how to make neat tube connections. He was amazed by my lack of knowledge about things that he thought were as obvious as breathing. I thanked him for teaching me so much and we made an appointment for tomorrow when I'm going to teach him to knit socks.

PSS: Of course I was just joking there in that bit about the socks.

***A note to those readers unfamiliar with the system of utilizing spring water for household uses (eg: DAD and LAURIE): it's only muddy and gross looking like that because I was digging around in the surrounding area. Normally it is crystal clear mountain water. If some dirt should get in it (like yesterday) there are places along the way to the house where the dirt settles out and filters before the water comes out the taps. We don't drink it, although we probably could. We do bath in it and wash our clothes with it. I'm clean (for the most part) and my whites are still white.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Alone on the mountain again...Day 1

In which I:

1. watched the big orange ball of the sun rise over the French Riviera.

2. had a latte machiato at my favorite bar in Taggia (a latte machiato at this bar is what you would get at Starbucks if the dread-lock haired, straight toothed, organic-eating, over-educated, under-employed cashier who takes your order shouted "FULL-FAT, REAL COFFEE, REAL CUP, NO LID GRANDE LATTE! GET LUIGI TO MAKE IT AND TURN OFF THAT PRETENTIOUS MUSIC" )

3. got into a row with a neighbor about some water tubes

4. went to Natalie's to whine about row with the neighbor

5. played with FIMO clay with Natalie. (I made some magenta and white buttons. They're awesome if I must say so myself. Photos to come after they've been baked)

6. forgot to bring camera to Natalie's

7. came home and looked for cord to plug cell phone into computer to download photos

8. failed in search

Had I succeed in finding the cord, you'd see that that's Natalie rolling out some clay

If I hadn't forgotten the camera you'd be able to tell that that's Natalie having a GREAT time during our first trip down FIMO lane.

9. finished 2009 FO #7.

and last but not least...

10. I made a glass of wine do THIS!

CHECK THAT OUT!!!! Don't you want to know how I did it? Come on, you're a little curious. Wanna see it again?

This might be a long few weeks.

If you'll excuse me now, I need to make 2009 FO # 8 - my right foot is complaining.

Monday, February 23, 2009

3 Finish, 2 Danish, 1 newb-ish

Yep! I'm proud to report that 2009 Finished Objects numbers 4,5, AND 6 are, well, finished.

2009 FO number 4:

2009 FO number 5:

Yeah, yeah, ok! You don't need to point out to me that FO numbers 4 and 5 go together as a PAIR, and therefore COULD be considered only FO number 4. Duh. Like I don't know that. But I would ask that you please don't discriminate against me - or rather my feet. Please. Discrimination is so non-p.c. If, for some reason I had only one foot, I would have just finished TWO objects. So, just because I happen to have two feet, please don't tell me that this pair is just ONE finished object! Just because I CAN wear both of these objects at the same time doesn't mean they aren't separate objects. Don't discriminate against my two SEPARATE AND INDIVIDUAL feet, please! The Left (foot) and the Right (foot) each have individual and separate feelings, experiences and well, that's about it.

Also, I mean, come on, if I had made a hat and a scarf, wouldn't these be TWO finished objects? Two objects that I could wear at the same time. YES, they would! Of course everyone believes in the individual rights of the head and the neck...why not the feet - or rather the two foot....s?

2009 FO number 6:

This sweater is the BEST! It comes from my favorite book, Weekend Knitting. Big yarn, big needles, no details, no sewing together at the end. If I were in a pinch, this sweater could be knit in, well, a weekend. That book title is pretty good.

(I feel the need to explain that strange photo. I was just about to take a photo of me sporting FO number 6 in the mirror when David came home so I asked him to do the photo. He proceeded to take like 10 photos that focused on the house, my face, my skirt/legs, the dogs in the window behind me, etc. I finally told him the point of the photo was the SWEATER, thus my gestures. I am not trying to point out the stellar job I did on the pick-up-and-knit sleeves nor my voluptuous breasts. Some times it's so hard to find good help.)

Enough with the finish, on to the Danish...

Pals Mette and Teddy (aka: the Danes) are heading back to their northern home on Thursday. They had a dinner last night to say goodbye until May.

( I totally meant to bring my camera, but forgot. So imagine here a photo of a guy who looks just like Father Christmas but maybe 100 pounds lighter and no red suit, and put a cigarette and a glass of wine in his hand. Next to him is Mrs. Claus but 20 years younger, with no bun in her hair, and much funkier spectacles, also no red suit but some funky boots)

Ok, on to the newbish..

WELCOME WELCOME WELCOME sister Mary to the wonderful world of knitting. Friend Mary (aka: the wife of Earle-in-Denver of the comments) has just learned to knit. She's working on a hat currently. Send her some positive SOCK vibes, please.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Meet Rolf

This is Rolf.

Rolf is not Italian. Rolf was born in East Germany. As a young man he moved to West Germany "for the bananas and the cars". Now Rolf has a little place up here.

One day Rolf made us lunch.

It was delicious. Rolf is a good cook.

Rolf sets a lovely table too.

Rolf made fence.

That's about the most beautiful darn piece of fence I've ever seen. I want to make a fence like Rolf.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

frustration, randomness and large elephants

As frustration sets in whist I wait for my internet connection to, you know, CONNECT...I'll jot a few randomnesses here.

First of all, the new studio space is working like a charm. There are many reasons for this...
1. It has a heat source. Probably won't be such a big deal come June but in February, well, it's a big deal.

2. It has space. Big, tall, wide space. I can feel my self, my work, (my stuff!) expanding. It kind of makes me wonder if I will switch from creating little things like earrings to big things like, I don't know, two story paper mache elephant sculptures for example.

3. It has shelves. Storage. Proper, I-can-get-to-my-stuff-without-crawling-under-a-table-and-digging-through-14-piles-of-shit storage. Check it out! See that top shelf, it's empty! I'm not even USING all my shelves yet.

4. It has tables. Ok, they happen to be the same tables that were in the other studio but, they feel bigger now. Like big enough that I could sculpt a two story elephant on them with some paper mache.

5. Did I mention there's heat in there?

6. Oh yeah, the roof doesn't leak in this room either so, should I make, say, a very large animal out of newspaper, flour and water, it could dry without the danger of mold. This is also good news for yarn, books, dogs, and people.

In other randomness, yesterday was the last day, again, of Das Needle Club. Our host's time in Italy is over again until May. She did finish this fine thing, though, before her trip back to the land of the Danes.

And she made us a torta...

We also added a new member to the group yesterday. Christine is a fellow American thus giving us the majority now.

Which of course made Natalie feel like the token Brit of the group...which, of course she is.

In still other, totally unrelated to anything randomness - the oldest friend that I have, Nancy, turned 40 on Tuesday. (Of course I mean the friend that I've had for the longest time. I have other friends much older than Nancy.) I don't even remember meeting Nancy, that's how long we've been friends. We might have been three at the time. I can't think of a memory from the age of 3 to about 15 that doesn't involve Nancy. We did just about everything together. Our families even took holidays together. Nancy and I grew up together. And now she's 40. Happy Birthday, Nanc, does 40 feel as old as it sounds?

Well, if you'll excuse me now, it seems that my internet connection is now connected.

Monday, February 16, 2009

HI Friends, just a quickie to let you know photos of the new studio space are coming. As it happens, David was right...I do have too much shit. I've spent the day expanding my shit to fit the new digs. Not an easy task.

A couple weeks ago my college roommate invited me to join Facebook. She convinced me that it was a great way to "reconnect" with a ton of people. Boy, she sure was right. In the past week I've heard from and seen photos of people that, well, to be blunt... I'd forgotten about (whom I'm sure had also forgotten about me). It's been a weird, time warpy, trippy thing.

Anyway, I bring this up because as I was "expanding" today into my new studio ... which involved (including but not exclusively) cleaning and arranging supplies/displays, I couldn't help but thinking, "are any of my former classmates from Elkhorn Area High School doing anything like this right now? Is anyone from EAHS class of '87 vacuuming their ceiling? Or placing little knitted dolls next to papier mache projects or busting a brain trying to get all their beads in accessible containers?"

If I had to guess, I would say no. In fact, if I had to guess, there were probably very few people in the world vacuuming their ceilings today.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday, a house make over...

So I woke up this sunny morning with a bit of spring fever. It's really far from spring here in Maberga but just seeing the sun again made me want to clean. Rearrange and clean. This is a strange quirk of mine, when the season changes I need to rearrange the furniture. Or the house, as was the case today. I suppose one could have worse quirks. Like I could feel the need to say, change husbands at every season change. Or jobs. Or countries of residence. All things considered, I think rearranging furniture (or the house) is rather tame, and actually quite healthy.

This morning I decided that my studio should become the bedroom and the bedroom my studio (umm, I mean OUR studio. I will need to give David a corner or so since that room constitutes approximately half of the square footage of our living space...yah, ok, he can have some of it). This idea seemed brilliant to me for many reasons, the main one being that paper mache takes up A LOT more space than sleeping does. Ok, there was an inkling of a motivation coming from my well intentioned mother who still had great concerns about my housekeeping skills (or lack there of) and the consequences on my and my family's health.

So, with much enthusiasm I went at it. Let me tell you folks that it was no small undertaking. My (former) 5 x 10 studio packs a wicked punch.

First...empty the (former) studio. Does anyone else have a problem with collecting things?

Second...Scrub all walls with bleach...again. It seems that I had missed a few spots in my cleaning the other day which were revealed when I moved the ten ton of "collectables".

Third...Floor. Vacuum, sweep, scrub, vacuum, sweep the floor. Thank god that space is only 5x10.

fourth...paint. I painted everything a nice new, clean white. White WHIte WHITE. I love it. Clean. CLEan. CLEAN.

Finally, the fun part...moving stuff in. How about some before and after photos?

bedroom before:

bedroom during:

bedroom after:

I'm so excited! It's beautiful. Simple, clean, bright. Never mind that when it rains the roof in this room totally leaks. In fact it leaks (one of the places it leaks) is right where the bed is. Who cares! We'll worry about that when it happens.

Now... I have a little work to do in the new studio.

Quote from David: "You've got too much shit."

Friday, February 13, 2009

2009 FO number 3 - ulterior motives

Here he is...

Ok. It's not that big of a deal. Just a plain blue hat. And given that it's mid-February and this is only FO (finished object) number 3...well, that's kind of embarrassing. 'Specially when FO #1 was only a neck warmer, and FO #2 was a sweater that started last September. It's not looking like I will win any prizes this year in the FO category. Oh well. Knitting is a PROCESS sport, isn't it?

I do have a lot of other stuff on my needles...slightly more interesting stuff, actually. So why did this little hat take precedent? Well, let me tell you.

Remember Augusto? He's our pal. He and his wife Lina have kind of adopted us which makes them sort of family. We spend most major holidays with them and their real family. Good good good people.

You might also remember Augusto as being the GENIUS who stopped bugs and small animals from falling on our heads when we sleep by plastering our bedroom walls. Same miracle worker who added the indoor stairwell making it possible to pee at night without a needing a flashlight, umbrella, shoes, or even clothes (I'm just saying, you know...).

As it happens, David and I have a few projects we'd like our pal Augusto do. For example, we need a fence. A big strong tall fence. Really strong. You see, we've got these dogs who have outgrown the living room, or at least their energy levels have. If I have to spend another summer with these guys alone without an enclosed outdoor space I will kill someone...probably David, for leaving me alone with them. In addition to a big strong fence (did I mention it needs to be strong?), we have some issues with you may have deduced if you've been following the last couple posts. Seems as though I will never completely get rid of the little black spots (aka: mold) without stopping the moisture in the first place.

Anyway, as I've mentioned, Augusto does good work and is in high demand. He's got a waiting list that, as it would seem being a member of the extended adopted family can't even penetrate.

I'm going to bribe him with a hat.

Maybe I should have added some stripes or a pom pom or something.

PS. Happy weekend. Happy Valentines day. And Happy Birthday, Spammy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Got Mold?

So I got this very dear, concerned email from my mom about my last post. It seems that I kept her up all night with visions of moldy spores dancing in her head. In this email she warned of the serious respitory infections that we all could get from having black mold growing on our walls. In addition to my lungs, she was worried about my books and my yarn (she is a knitter and a reader as well as being my mom).

Isn't it funny that the lung thing wasn't what prompted me into action but rather the thought of SPORES reproducing on my books and yarn? Funny.

Not that I didn't believe my dear mom, of course I did. The lady is smart, BA chemistry, MA biology, plus, well, she's my mom. I asked Jeeves any way.

I found this helpful website "Got Mold? Frequently Asked Questions about Mold" from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

Reading right along on this helpful site I got to the frequently asked question: "When is mold a problem?"

Excuse me, but when in mold NOT a problem?! I guess in cheese it isn't, anyway....

The office of environmental health and safelty said this: "You know you have mold when you smell the "musty" odor or see small black or white specks along your damp bathroom or basement walls."

Do you think they mean something like this?

or maybe this?

I think it's safe to say mold is a problem here.

Then I got to this FAQ: "Can I control mold growth in my home?"

Answer: "Yes you can. Dry out the House and fix any moisture problems in your home"

Obviously no one from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety has been to number 29 Regione Maberga. HA! "Dry out the house." HA. That's a good one.

Then I got to this part

FAQ: "What can I use to clean up mold?"

Answer: "Act fast! Mold damages your home as it grows. Clean it up as soon as possible."

Unfortunately, by this point I felt the urgency of the warning from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (and of course you, too, mom). I filled a bucket with beach grabbed a rag and started wiping away all the "little black spots" I saw. For places that I couldn't reach, I soaked the rag and threw it at the spot, figuring that the beach would splatter the wall/ceiling in my targeted area. After having my studio no longer with the "musty" ordor but rather smelling like an indoor swimming pool, I came back down stairs.

That's when I read the rest of "What can I use to clean up mold?"

"Use protection -- Wear goggles, gloves, and breathing protection while working in the area. For large consolidated areas of mold growth, you should wear an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) approved particle mask.

Seal the area --Seal off area from the rest of your home. Cover heat registers or ventilation ducts/grills. Open a window before you start to clean up.

Remove items -- Remove all your furnishings to a mold-free area. Clean the surrounding moldy area then follow cleaning directions below for the items you removed and the new space.

Bag moldy trash -- Bag all moldy materials and tie off the top of the bag. Bring them outdoors and place in your garbage container right away.

Scrub surfaces -- First wash with a mild detergent solution, such as laundry detergent and warm water. Allow to dry. Last apply a borate-based detergent solution and don’t rinse. "


Monday, February 09, 2009

It's the darnedest thing...

Isn't it just the darnedest thing - one day can you wake up and just about everything pisses you off, and then only a few days later you wake up and everything seems so dang lovely.

Take today for example. I'm just so darn cheery that every little thing has made me happy - happy like that mother in that John Denver song who cried when she saw the sunshine. (if you don't know the song you can ... well, you can look it up, I couldn't find it).

I had one of these.

It's a root beer float. You don't know what a treat that is when you can't have one everyday. Never take for the A and W for granted.

I played with these

and these

and made these, don't they just put a smile on your face?

I watched this

that's the full moon rising. Amazing.

It's in just the darnedest, most inexplicable thing that today the fact that it's 20 degrees F in the house because the pellet stove has mysteriously stopped working doesn't even bother me. And that black mold that is growing on the walls in my I say, "who cares! no problem! I'm sure the spores that it's producing won't do that much harm!"

Call it moodiness, if you want. I call it just the darnedest thing.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

So I woke up today with that fog of grouchiness surrounding me, imparing my vision. You know, just the normal getting out of the wrong side of the bed kind of thing. It's not caused by anything in particular but I've noticed that grouchiness has superpowers.

Did you ever watch that cartoon The Wonder Twins? A pair of, well, twins who have the superpower of shape shifting. (If you've never seen them, you can check out more about them here). So I've discovered grouchiness has the same superpower. Grouchiness shape shifts.

In the cartoon the twins make fists and press them together (ala the Obamas in their version of high fiving). When they touch (the Wonder Twins, not our President and the First Lady) each twin says "wonder twin power ACTIVATE! form of ________!" (the boy always took some form of water and the girl some form of animal). And BAM! They took on these forms and then they'd go save people's lives or battle evil beings or something heroic like that.

So as I was saying, the fog of grouchiness has this super power of taking on concrete forms.

Fists together, "Grouchiness, ACTIVATE! form of rainy weather and loads of wet laundry!" BAM!

Fists together, "Grouchiness, ACTIVATE! form of wet dogs and (formerly) clean kitchen floor!" BAM!

Fists together, "Grouchiness, ACTIVATE! form of freezing cold studio and new beads waiting to become jewelry!" BAM!

Fists together, "Grouchiness, ACTIVATE! form of Wednesday Dad Needle Club and a translation that must be done today!" BAM!

Well, you get the picture... Unfortunately grouchiness, in any shape has never been known to perform heroic feats.

In case anyone was wondering, David did make it back from Venice with loads of beautiful new beads AND a car load of American goodies that he was able to buy from the US Military Base in Vincenza. And, I DID finish his sweater. Unfortunately not before he got home. I blame the lack of coffee. But he seems happy just to have it before summer.

Fists together, "Grouchiness, ACTIVATE! form of blog photos on camera and my inability to access them!" BAM!

Have a nice day.