Monday, March 27, 2006

Sambuco Newsblog March 006

Pets and the weather

It’s March 20 and it’s still snowing. Will it ever stop? I don’t think so.
Most of the neighbours and folks here about blame Bernie the Bolt, my New York - Irish -Romano frequent flyer neighbour across the road, often.
‘ Hey’ they say.’ Do you know if Bernie’s here this weekend, we’ve got a garden barbeque planned’ and… ‘I want to put my potatoes in this weekend. Have you heard whether Bernie’s coming over from Rome?’
Orlando, who has a house in the village of Botundoli below us, stops by and says (he always speaks to me in pidgin Italian, I never ask why…. a habit he has picked up from the trials of communicating with the English invaders I guess)… He says ’Leak … aqueduct .. Area lose millions water crisis summer….Orlando call water people, Orlando say fix leak, enter bad water daughter get sick last year. Water people no come, Orlando call them Monday, Orlando angry’ .
‘Me say it to Bernie’, I say (in equally perfect pidgin Italian). ‘He fix plenty good. He have water magic curse’.
Orlando drives off with bemused look on face, convinced more than ever of the need to speak this strange fragmented language of his to get his message across to the invaders.
Maybe he thinks we are Native American Indians? Who knows?
Anyway, general consensus is that we have a whip-round and send Bernie to Pepa, our local witch, to have the curse taken off.
It’s the very least we can do, both for him and the micro global cooling climate he is so obviously responsible for.
Yesterday was a mini break from the white splattered grey gloom. It was sunny the whole morning and we zoomed up to the ski slopes at Sassotetto. No wind, just warm sunshine and blue blue sky misting over at times. You know that deep winter blue that makes you sigh and maybe even hiccup.
I’m not a very good skier…just the basics, like I can zigzag and I can stop, but no fast fancy stuff. It’s the second time in the last fortnight I’ve been up there and I like the buzz you get, just a few people (it’s a sleepy family ski center) and I guess I like the slow mechanical repetition and the concentration.
Kids learn faster than adults. This we know. When it comes to skiing they haven’t got as far to fall and they love the dare and the approbation. I went up with my grandson, Bertie, and he wanted a snowboarding lesson. Why? Well that’s the trend now with youngsters they say up there. In fact they only have one snowboard teacher at present and next year there are going to have to get more boards in and train up more teachers.
After one lesson though, Bertie decided he preferred skiing.
More control, he said.
Do nine year olds say things like that nowadays?
Lili’s in Treviso and I’m in charge of the animals…a thankless task as they always seem to be hungry when I’m manning the ship.
Fortu walks in with his face swollen up again. He’s limping too and has an infection in his left rear paw which is also swollen. Oh great ! He’d had an operation two weeks back for a cyst. We’d had him castrated at the same time and, I must confess; I was more concerned about this than the cyst. It’s a male thing.
Driven to near obsessive madness in his ‘season of love’: mere skin and bone and torn to shreds by fighting nightly, we figured that he’d be happier without his bits and that he’d stay at home at nights, put on weight and get a healthy sheen on his fur. And purr happily, incessantly.
Fraid not! He hasn’t changed an iota.
So off I go with him last night last night to the Vet and I have to hold him whilst she attempts to sedate him and he in turn is growling and deciding which part of my face to disfigure. I know him well and pin him down, paws flat on the operating table.
She finds a piece of something or other, maybe a bit of tooth when she opens his cheek up again and some equally messy stuff in his paw.
We arrive at our dinner date far too late and I feel grumpy.
Even grumpier still this morning when I have to crush his antibiotic tablet and hide it inside a piece of chicken at breakfast time. He eats all of his chicken breakfast except the piece with the antibiotic inside.
That’s me.
With a cold.
Perhaps flu.
And a double toothache. (see below)

If I could get out into the garden and do a bit, it might help; but it’s grey and chilly still with patches of today’s snow still lying.

Our shrubs have arrived. (Virburnia I think ) They’re to make a division between the garden and the parking area, and we’ll put them in as soon as Massimo has worked on the field opposite and cleared a parking space. He’ll come when the ground is drier he says but best to tell the Forestale first he says because there are ten small oak trees in the field and you’ll get into trouble if you cut them because the are protected. I go over to look and they are twiglets, no more, less than a metre in length.

Thing to do he says is cut them down before you call them.
I wave him off and stand awhile puzzling the logic of what I have just heard.
It’ll come to me; it’ll come to me.
Trip to dentist in Treviso to stop toothache
I never have toothache…only after a visit to the dentist. This is true. It’s like when you take a car to the mechanic and then after all sorts of things go wrong. Now don’t get me wrong…I’m sure dentists and mechanics are really necessary but there is a lot to be said for the philosophy of leaving well enough alone. I mean, have you seen Tony Blair’s teeth lately?. I don’t mean personally up front, but TV cameramen seem to getting at him lately and zooming in a bit too close. He needs urgent dental treatment.
But enough of UK politics, we have enough problems here with Berlosconi’s face-lifts and strange new hair growth.
Back to my dentist.
To enter his studio is to enter the future.
It’s in fact a space ship.
When I arrive there he is the middle of an argument with Telecom. Shouting he is.
I settle down meekly in the chair to await my fate and after a while he comes bounding in.
‘Telecom’, he starts off…..
Don’t wanna know I say.
In his futuristic space capsule he has constructed a huge flat screen so his patients can see the mouths being operated on in Cinerama. Problem is though that the screen is 20 degrees too far to the right and you can only see your giant mouth in glimpses between drilling if you quickly jerk your head to the right.
Tell you what though…it’s not very interesting.
Oh and get this.
He gives you valium before he starts, as well as an anesthetic.
Then I think he hypnotises you too.
I can remember him telling me that he doesn’t bother matching tooth colour, it’s all the same. Could be a dog’s tooth I put in your gum, he says, or a bat’s.
A bat?
Did he say that?
You get pretty relaxed with valium in you and stoked up with anesthetic and hypnotized too. Maybe he said piastrella and not pipistrello.
Plan is, he says, is to link his studio with his home so he can get a trained assistant to follow his instructions remotely.
And then he can work internationally, globally too: can stay home, make toast and read all day or even snowboard.
Seems a good idea to me.

Is near Orvieto.
Now this is a great little town on the northern borders of Lazio where it joins Tuscany.
The Duomo is black and white candy stripes: just like Siena’ Duomo but inside somehow more majestic.

But what fascinated me most were the catacombs and underground tunnels and caves, which run beneath the town. Mostly Etruscan in origin and expanded in medieval times, initially to preserve wine but also for hiding in, I imagine, in times of war and insecurity or to dodge paying taxes.
Saturnia? A great day out. Hot rivers and waterfalls of mineral water. The smell lingers on you for days
Monster monster
People are odd. Of all the things I write about, it’s the monster, AKA Il Volcano, AKA our wood burning heating system, which seems to grab folks the most (men mostly).
For heavens sake fellas! I’m getting tired of the guided tour. And it’s the expansion tank that seems to be at the peak of their interest. The expansion tank?
When I talk sheer economics….like our gas bills don’t seem to be that much less (who wants to get up at six am on a winter’s morning and load up wet wood in the dark?)… they just glaze over and focus on the plumbing. When I say this thing eats up almost half a quintale of wood a day, they look uneasy and ask about the flame adjusting mechanism.
It’s odd…they’re odd… getting on scary.
We just recently, up in Treviso, got close up to a new pellet-burning stove. Fascinating it was. Completely automatic, clean and light to use. Hot air directable and pretty to contemplate.
I shall contemplate this one.
The pellets are made from olive pips. Smart eh?
And what’s more, ace steel tubing and a brilliant expansion tank.
In the meantime..a typical monster scenario
Get a call from Lili saying the alarm has gone off but not to worry ‘cos Monia (lady who does for us) has fixed it. When I get back home to a heat-throbbing house, I have to rush to the boiler, switch over the taps and turn the hot taps on everywhere. Monia? You fixed it? Yes she says, I did what I do at home, I switched the alarm off. Great! Now this is the equivalent of going to your corner mechanic with an oil light which won’t stop flashing and the guy says Fix it in a jiff mate and he reaches under the dashboard and unscrews the red light bulb.
What had happened fellas (can’t wait to know huh?)..Was that I forgot to tell Lili I’d lit monster before going out…so…now follow this…. She had switched gas heating on and turned thermostats down to 17 degrees before going out herself. Now this means that monster boiling water has nowhere to go, it just stays inside monster tank walltanks so it bubbles up to 100% and sets off alarm.
Dangerous stuff.
Good job she’d spotted monster alight as she passed to go out.
Just as the alarm went off.
Our line goes down twice in one week. All since they took away our IDSN line which has proven next to useless. We have heard that ADSL is getting closer so we’ve put our order in and then we will be happy forever (when it arrives).
I report the first failure and a nice guy comes around and tells me the break is one the line between our house and Vittorio’s but that he can’t do it by himself, he’ll send a couple of guys next week. Along they come and pull out all the boxes in the house, attach metres and probe boxes and I say look, your guy last week told me the line was broken between us and Vittorio. They ignore me and say that they have detected a break fourteen metres from the telephone, which means it must be inside the house. So they pull out cable after cable and find nothing. Then they say it must be between the house and the pole in the garden and one chap paces our 14 metres and it reaches the pole.
Again they can’t find break.
Where did the other technician say it was one asks. Just over there I say, I told you…..between us and Vittorio. They just shrug and go grumbling off and then ten minutes later I see them at the top of the poles twixt us and Vittorio.
An hour later they come back to the house and say it’s fine now, we found two breaks between you and Vittorio. He’s been cutting down branches they say, that’s what did it.

It’s now March 25th.
Tomorrow the clock’s go forward and already we are past the equinox.

And today the beach, in fact Portonovo

This morning I saw a Hopo bird in the garden. They fly up from Africa, usually in June.

Destroy Telecom : useful alternatives
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