Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Big plans lead to big results

Whether my state of mind has caught on or not the calendar says it's spring which means David is back on the road. Back in Tuscany for work...poor guy.

As has become my day one of the alone-on-the-mountain season ritual, yesterday I completely cleaned the house top to bottom and rearranged the furniture. So today, day 2, I woke up fully prepared and brimming with enthusiasm to dive into the list of house projects that I have been accumulating throughout the winter. The list was really fun to compile. It made me feel like I was doing things all winter even though I was only thinking about doing things. The list has about 46 rather large items on it.

It seems that in the long, cold, rainy winter months I spent a lot of time staring at the walls because I listed painting each and every room in the house. I must have spent a bit of time also staring out the back windows of the house because I made lots of plans for the shed in the back yard including cleaning it out (it's so packed and such a mess that we can't even open the door. I also had the brilliant idea of plastering the raw brick structure. Yeah, that will happen. The garden also shows up prominently on the list as does cleaning (again...or STILL) our terraced land.

So, all geared up and ready to go...it rained. Big rain. Painting? Nope. Gardening, no way. Building more stone walls? Not today. What's a girl to do? What else?

I paper mached some Easter eggs.

Yeah, ok, I know. They look more like Easter potatoes. Pink and yellow Easter potatoes.

I also finished this.

That's the granny hex. Turned out a little better than the potatoes, I mean, eggs. And, as it turns out much more useful on a day like today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring hasn't arrived yet. I don't understand this really. I'm reading blogs from everywhere, in climates way colder than my Italian Riviera's, in which the authors claim that spring has sprung there. What's up with that? My theory is that these other bloggers just have a lower standard for what spring is. Spring for me is a state of mind, which is normally brought on by sun and warm weather, walks on the beach and in the fresh green mountains. Well, I can't wait around for that other stuff to trigger my springy mind so I've decided this year it will go the other way. I'm going enter the spring zone in brain and hope all the other stuff will follow.

So, I've immersed myself in all things yellow...

It can't hurt, right?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


My mom has come up with a title for the narrative my life has become: The Reality of Living the Dream. I don't remember exactly after which adventure, or rather misadventure, that gem occurred to her. Might have been when the car was on house arrest for a month. Or was it after the water tube chopping incident? No, now I remember, it was after I told her about duct taping the sewage tube (which we had to do again yesterday, by the way).

So it is in this vein, the reality of the dream, I bring you the rest of the new bridge chapter.

That's a photo of the happy workers. Ok, not really.

I'd like to tell you about a wonderful day in which all of us neighbors got together to pitch in to make our little community better. I'd like to show photos of all the women in the kitchen making a big lunch spread that we shared with the men folk when they took a break from the happy toils building our bridge. I'd like to post a photo of the 50 or so Mabergese standing on a finished bridge holding glasses of wine toasting a job well done.

Instead it went like this...

Six guys gathered. The same guys who had worked the weekend before. They shoveled sand and made cement. They moved boulders and built a supporting wall.
They discussed the next steps. Then a couple of the neighbors, who do this type of work Monday through Friday as their profession, began to unionize. They made their pitch to one of the other workers who is the president of our neighborhood association that they should get paid for their labors. They're argument was made stronger by the 3 or 4 cars of other neighbors who drove by, not stopping to help nor even stopping to say thank you for the work. In response to the request for money the president said, "no f$%$in' way, the association has no money even if we wanted to pay for the work." (I'm paraphrasing there) So, by lunch break, two of the 6 neighbors went on strike saying "no money no work", one of the others said, "if they're not coming neither am I" leaving the already skeletal crew cut in half. They were joined in the afternoon by one new recruit, and labored for the rest of the afternoon.

End of the story? There is a functioning but incomplete bridge, which will probably remain so for an indefinite amount of time given the hard feelings all around.

Reality. Sometimes it's a pisser.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The road to Maberga

The road to Maberga is a lot of things. It's a lot of different things to different people. Everyone has their own thoughts about our little passage to paradise. Here's a small compilation of adjectives people have used to describe it:


and, my personal favorite,


(as in, "you've got to be kidding me!!! That's your fuckin' road!" or "I love your house but I just don't want to drive up your fuckin' road." or "when are they going to fix your fuckin' road?", anyway, you get the idea)

Not that I'm particularly courageous behind the wheel, but I must say that our road has never really bothered me all that much. The very first time we drove up here, we had been looking at "houses" (read: stone rubble ruins)all day throughout the mountains of Liguria. We had been on some roads that day that made the road to Maberga seem like a 4 lane highway. Once we moved up here and I was driving it daily, I began to notice that a few of the turns were a bit tight and there were certain patches that could use some work.

In particular there is one really bad spot. It's referred to by the neighbors as the "bridge". The origin of the name coming from the fact that a bridge was NEEDED in this particular spot, not that one EXISTED. Remember the Maberga Lake? That's the place. It's not actually accurate of me to call it a lake either since the water is moving. It's where all the water from the mountain rushes down to the valley to join the Argentina River, leading eventually to the sea. Since the original road was put down (sometime in the 1980's) this running water has been washing away the land UNDER the road. This was dangerous.

There had been talk for years of fixing this spot but there was never enough money. Our little gated community, like all gated communities, requires dues. Annual financial payments made, based on the amount of land you have, for the purpose of maintaining the road. Well, lots of folks don't like paying those dues and had fallen behind. Until last month when the new president of our little group changed the lock on the gate and gave the new keys only people who were paid up. Suddenly, we had enough money to build us a bridge.

And that's exactly what we did last weekend. A small group of hard-core Mabergese volunteers (aka: the people with land ABOVE the bad spot in the road) gathered and, well, here's a little slideshow I put together....

Monday, March 01, 2010

a little goes a long way....

I was thinking yesterday, as a neighbor was burning his olive branch trimmings in a gale wind storm, "hmmm....that seems a little dangerous to me. I wouldn't do that but I trust him. He knows what he's doing."

I muttered this thought aloud to David adding, "if YOU were out there burning on a windy day like today, every Italian in a 100km radius would be up here to tell you it was a bad idea, dangerous and, possibly, that you are just a really stupid American."

It's a lack of trust. The country farmer Italians in the area, aka: most of our friends and neighbors, just don't have a lot of trust in David's skills and knowledge of working the land. I don't know why? Could have something to do with that time he slashed his head with the chainsaw while trimming the cherry tree, but who knows?

And what the Italians lack in trust of David's knowledge of nature, well, multiply that by 9, divide by 5 and add 32, and that will get you some where close to their monumental lack of trust of my abilities in the kitchen.

So, I am just as pleased as pleased can be to announce that, after 6 years in relationship building, we had our pals for a bit of Mexican dinner...