Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pig Party 2013, day two

For those of you who don't know what a Pig Party is, it looks something like this:

For those of you not fluent in wine soaked Italian with hints of Calabrase dialect the discourse goes something like this:

F: some people just want to do a little work, eat some meat and a little fat, even without bread...

A: Yesterday

F: Ah, but Augu, you know I don't understand english.

A: what do you mean you don't understand english.  you understand it when you want to.

F: ah, but, no, I don't understand,.....

A: thank you.  cheers.  All the best

F:  all the best.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Pressed and Dressed and

ready for some pork.

Photos to follow.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

There's nothing quite like the sounds of Christmas music filling the house to put a girl in that yuletide spirit.

And my version of O Holy Night on the viola is nothing like Christmas music.

I'll keep practicing in hopes that my playing will one day meet the very high standards of this blog. Until then please enjoy this little bit of holiday cheer brought to you from Italy, brought to me from Denmark (thanks, Mette).

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Maybe I could learn to like it....

The weather in our corner of the world has been beautiful throughout November and December.  Warm, sunny, dry, gorgeous.  Scary gorgeous like we are all just holding our breath waiting for the crappy weather to hit all at once. 

Until then, let's go outside and....

Yep, pick some olives.  No, we didn't pick our own olives.  This year, we went with the professionals.

And I must say, they know how to do it well.

As you all may recall, picking olives in not on my list of favorite things to do.  In fact, it IS on my list of least favorite things to do.  But then these guys
brought us some of this
And we did this
So I agreed to pick olives with them.  By the way, the jar in that photo above is sugar, not salt.  Fresh olive oil, really fresh olive oil, like squeezed yesterday olive oil has a bit of a bite, so some folks like to sprinkle sugar on it.  This is what ligurian kids used to have for a snack when they came home from school.  Beats the shit out of dry jello from the box.

So last Thursday, on one of those gorgeous days we are having, David and I went to Franco's land to "help" pick his olives.  His land has quite a nice view
of the town of Badalucco
Franco and Gino had been picking olives since about 6am,  6am every day for two weeks.  David and I got there about 10am, when there were just 4 trees left to pick.  By noon we were done.  Phew!  That was a lot of work!  Sarcasm.

Franco's land, whilst it has a lovely view, is rather steep.  So after all the olives had been picked, this had to happen
up several terraces to the car.  They were lucky I was there to help with this.  Sarcasm.

After 6 crates of olives were dropped off at the frantoio (olive press), it was time for lunch.
 A light bowl of semin (sp?)...a soup/stew like dish with every vegetable imaginable, beans, and just for fun, pork ribs, sausage, and skin.
By 2.30 we were back at the frantoio to watch the oil making.

I could explain the process but well, go here if you want to read about it.  They do a better job explaining it than I would.
And finally, a little glass (or two) with the owner of the frantoio
 and a toast to Franco's olives.
Stay tuned for the next Franco and Gino adventure when David and Lynn go sailing.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

So far...

I love this year.  2013 has been the best year yet.  In general, every year seems to be getting better and better and this one hasn't disappointed.  I don't want to ruin my blog fodder for new year's eve so I won't list all the cool stuff that has happened this year.  Let me just say that today I love 2013 because tomorrow is our Italian designated Thanksgiving and David and I are not hosting it this year.  Yes, having my entire family here for my cousins' most awesome wedding made 2013 memorable but right now I'm ecstatic that 2013 is our off year. 

Ok, a little behind the scenes note:  I just asked David how you spell ecstatic and he said, "what's ecstatic?" "ME.  I'm ecstatic because I'm not cleaning the house and cooking a big ass turkey because we are having 12 people over for a feast tomorrow."  To which my husband looked at me and said, "cooking a turkey?  have you ever cooked a turkey?"   Yeah, ok, good point.  I'm really happy that I'm not cleaning the house and making my grandma's green beans and that David is not cooking everything else involved in hosting thanksgiving.

Really, I'm not lazy.  It's just that cooking and cleaning are right up there on my list of least favorite things to do.

Hanging out with our friends and extended family (on the dogs' side) is however right up there on my list of favorite things to do.  So, in prep for going to friends' Christine and Valerio's super clean house for a feast of food they've prepared, I am doing this, my usual off-year contribution to thanksgiving..

Where I take these greasy, hard craisin-ish things, pretend that they are cranberries....

And pretend that these mandarins are oranges

And whip up a concoction that we will all call cranberry sauce tomorrow.  I can get away with this because the only americans at the dinner, who know what real cranberry sauce is, are David and my dear friend Christine.  And they won't say anything.

So, here's to 2013.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

So we took a mini holiday.  11 years living 1 hour away from Nice, France, we decided that it would be nice to go to Nice.  Yeah, ok.  We have BEEN to Nice before but just for an airport visit or maybe a morning at the market in the old town.  We wanted to be tourists. 

David found this awesome hotel right on the coast where we had a balcony picnic lunch.

Ok, that's the end of the story about our trip.  We only made like 3 photos.  No, not "like" 3 photos.  We made 3 photos. I'm sorry about that now as I try to write a blog post, but at the time I was happy not to be behind the camera.  It was fun to just be enjoying the visit without trying to capture it.

We were only in Nice for a day and a half but in that time we were able to explore the whole old town area, enjoy the view from our hotel room, have an amazing French meal at a small local place ( La Route du Miam-- I highly recommend it.  make reservations, there are only about 6 tables), and visit the Chegall museum (also very worth while!).

We also spent a night in Menton.  Not much to say except Menton is lovely town but much lovelier when the weather is nice.  On the way back home we stopped at an Italian mountain town above San Remo.  Check this out:

A church is way more impressive without a roof.

Ok, so that's about the end of the history's most boring post.  Sorry about that, I think I'm out of practice.

One last thing...

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day....

It's such a beautiful day today.  Really so beautiful.  The sky is that amazing autumn blue color, the temp is a glorious 68 degree (F) with a slight breeze.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the dogs are sleeping... It's a nice day.

In fact, it's such a nice day that it doesn't even bother me that my brand new tire got a puncture.  Who cares, it's just a tire.

So beautiful that I don't even give a shit that my new birthday sweater is too big.  Whatever, I'll make another one.

So fantastic that I'm not even worried that the neighbor seems to be constructing a 20 foot fence directly opposite our house.  Fine, no problem.

It's such an amazing day that even these look beautiful to me...

knowing damn well that in just a couple weeks those little fuckers will need to be picked....

on a day that will most likely be 20 degrees (F) and rainy. 

Happy Sunday.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A few thank yous and a good bye

I got an email from TFC ..."15 days and no posts!".  Sorry, tech troubles.

Ok, that's sort of a lie.  Well, not a lie but not a very good excuse either.  I do have tech troubles on my computer...I also have two computers, thus the current ability to post.

Anyway, enough of the lame excusing.

One more thing before I start this post.  Dad, that "yous" in the title is plural for thank you, as in more than one thank you...thank youS.  I do know that the 2nd person plural pronoun is you, no s.   Ok, back to the post for yous guys....

In all the hoopla of the wedding (yes, I told yous 6 months I'll be using that, 5 to go), I didn't get to say a couple of thank yous that I had wanted to.

First thank you goes to Franco and Gino.  Remember them?  Not only did they do a repeat performance of the cooking party for like 12 members of my family a couple days before the wedding they also did this.
um...that's not Gino with Franco there, it's their friend Leila who totally helped with all the festivities.

Yup, they took me and some friends and family to the top of the world on my birthday.  Franco even carried a heavy-ass 2 liter bottle of wine (along with all this cameras) so I could do my usual kicking-off the new year with a toast. 

Gorgeous spot and really fun having friends and family with me this year (I might need to revisit that whole "I like being alone on my birthday" tradition thing).

Second thank you to Mette and Christine.  They celebrated my new year on the planet too with some cupcakes, knitting and great conversation.  There were a couple gifts as well.
Thanks, Ladies.  Sorry about that photo...I was a little slow with the camera, or too fast with the cupcake, depending on your point of view.

Ok, back to the wedding and thank you number three.  Friends, check this shit out
No, I'm not pointing out that really nice rug that I crocheted that is on an even nicer pallet that I added wheels to, no neither of those things.  Check out the chair.  Recognize it?  Let me refresh your memory here.

In that blog post my grandma's chair, after I had inherited it, was comfortably resting in my parents' basement in Wisconsin.  Perhaps yous don't recognize that room it's in now but it would be my freakin studio.  In my freakin house.  In Italy! 

Point being, thank you number three goes to Bump and Doug (or Dong, as he became known at the wedding).  Yep, those very cool cousins of mine, in addition to getting married in Maberga and therefore bringing friends and family who never would have otherwise come to our house, yeah, in addition to that they brought me my chair. Um, that was a really grammatically awkward sentence but it's like 1.15am and I'm too tired to care enough to fix it. 

So I was saying that they brought me my chair... my grandma's chair.  They brought it as checked luggage.  No, I'm not joking.  Ask David....he drove to the Nice, France airport to load that 60lbs of pure love and comfort into the back of his Fiat and brought it back to Maberga.  It's in its new home for what I feel quite confident will be the rest of its existence. Another awkward sentence, anyway....Note to step children Emily and Graham:  when yous inherit the house, and all its contents....just remember that spaghetti that grandma Vienna made for you guys with her homemade noodles and sugo before you have a bon fire.

Let's look at that again

Does anyone besides me think that that is probably the coolest gift they could have given me?  And that it's hysterical that they checked a chair at check in as they were flying off to their wedding in Italy?

In case yous are wondering...that ugly ass blaze orange folder on my beautiful chair was my "Bump and Doug wedding" folder where I kept all the important phone numbers and general organization stuff.  That's why it's in the photo. I still have it, in case anyone is looking for an accordion player.

As promised in the title, there is also a good bye in this post. 

I'm sad to report that olive knitting has lost a reader/commenter, I've lost a friend, and the world has lost a very lovely man.  Mike Rowe (aka: Mike in Boulder) was finally taken by the myriad illnesses that invaded his body.  He was passionate about and worked hard to save old Fiats, old trains, and old church organs, he loved his job as a school bus driver, and did right by at quite a few cats. 

Mike and my paths crossed just once in a short meeting when he decided to buy my 1960 Fiat 600 when I left Denver.  I will miss the antique Fiat show care packages that he sent every year, his regular emails that kept me current with weather patterns in Colorado, and his thoughts and comments on my life in Italy...which he was hoping to come to see "if he could get his health issues under control". 


Rest in Peace, Mike.  Lil' Blue and I will miss you.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

So, a letter came in the mail a couple weeks back.  In all the hoopla of the wedding, I didn't read it.  How long do you think I can use the wedding as an excuse for blowing-shit off?  I'm thinking maybe 6 months.  Anyway, I did notice that it was very nicely printed up with colors and pretty fonts.  It didn't look menacing or threatening, there was no euro amount to be paid, it didn't come as a registered letter, and, well, it was in or no, it was a prime candidate for the bin.  And that's where it ended up.  On its way to the trash, I happened to see the word RIFUTI in big letters repeated a lot.  Ironic, that.  The letter was about trash and I was putting it in the trash.

In retrospect, I probably should have read it, wedding or no wedding.

Perhaps you've wondered what happens to the trash that is generated at Casa Cornwell, perhaps not.  But, since it's pertains to the story, I'll tell you.  We bag it up and drive it out.  Like every other italian, we take it to big dumpsters that line the streets everywhere.  If I am feeling particularly righteous when taking out the trash, or we've had a greater than normal fondness for beverages that come in glass bottles the night before, I get that glass in the blue dumpster and put the rest in the green one (there is also a white one for paper, and a yellow one for plastic...embarrassingly, I didn't use those two so much).  That's how it works, for another two days. 

On October 3rd, so I've learned from friends in the past couple of days but should have learned from a letter explaining it to me several weeks ago, those dumpsters will be gone.  Italy (or Taggia or Liguria, I'm not sure) has decided to require recycling.  Great.  Fantastic.  It's just what lazy trash-throwers like me need.

Only problem is, Italians came up with their system for required recycling.  Italians do a lot of things well, really, a lot of things, but systems and organization...not so much.  I really think the Minister of the Environment should have consulted some of his neighbors to the North on this one. 

From what I've been able to understand so far, every household was delivered three plastic bins. yes, someone came knocking on doors with bins in hand.  I guess it's like trick-or-treaters, Maberga was forgotten, we got no bins.  These bins are used to differentiate the rubbish. That's not bad, it's a good idea actually..fairly straight forward.  But then it all goes a little Italian.  These bins need to be put outside the door, different bins on different days, or different bins for different people for different days or they need to be delivered to specific drop spots on certain days during certain hours...different people have told me different ways that it will work.  In addition to the bins, every household was given a year's supply of trash bags to use for the differentiated trash, printed on the sacks was "plactica" "carta", etc.  No one knows yet (or couldn't tell me) what the fine will be for mis-trashing but we'll soon find out.  Ya wanna know how? Everyone was also given a year's supply of stickers with bar codes on them. Yep, each household has their own bar code.  The stickers go on the trash sacks and if the garbage men find plastic in the glass bag, they scan the bar code and your tickets is in the mail, baby.

This system is so ripe for failure it makes the German in me want to cry.

My prediction is that within 6 months every town will begin to look Naples-esc as people start dumping their state provided trash sacks on the side of the road, without the bar codes, of course.  Why couldn't they have just done some commercials with a crying Roman?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wedding ...Maberga Style

Honestly, I don't know where to begin this post. My cousin Bumpy and Doug's wedding day was one of those days in one's life that will never be forgotten - not by them, certainly not by David and me, and I got the sense that all the participants might feel the same.  I got that feeling because, well, most of them told me so. In short, the wedding was magical.

So where do I begin?

How 'bout I tell you about the new sweater I've started knitting after everyone left...Just kidding.

Let's start here...

The process of helping my cousin marry her beau at my adopted home helped make some things clearer than before.

I saw how deeply beautiful Bumpy is, inside and out

and how Doug is an amazing addition to the family, an awesome partner for my cousin, and a really fun guy to hang out with.

Once again I saw how my family (even the extended version) is able to support one another in whatever crazy ideas any of us might have - like getting married on the top of a mountain in Italy, for example.

And how important it is to participate in life events of friends and family, even if you have to travel 5000 miles to do it.

I saw that an accordion player adds a dimension to any party that can't be denied

And I understood in a completely new way never to fuck with the wedding planner

I saw how a decade of building relationships with people from all different experiences, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds can and do come together to make one day absolutely magical for everyone involved.

I also saw how a couple good eggs makes the whole omelet more fun

And, of course, it was confirmed that if you have an idea, conceived in a drunken evening in a place of love, it just happens.  It does.  Look

If you want to watch the extended dance version of the above photos, here is the slide show...

Sorry there is no music to go with the photos....I've been trying all weekend and, honestly, I could try until their 10th anniversary and probably never figure it out.  You all can participate in this wedding by singing whatever song you want whilst watching the photos. Enjoy.  We certainly did!