Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas 2008

Bravo Fortù










Forch, two days after op.

This is for all fans of Fortunato (aka Forch or Fortù)
Two days ago he had a major operation to remove his spleen. He was back the same evening raring to go and hungry as a horse. His tummy is shaved naked and he's got stacks of stitches and we think he is suffering some post-op pain. But he is oh so brave and an example to us all.
Snow forecast tomorrow, probably a metre when it's carried on the Bora from the Balkans. But don't worry, we'll wrap his tummy up in a huge sock.
Tikka thinks he's wonderful.

Day after....the others, Tikka, Socks and Lila jostling in the snow; Tikka's first ever experience of it!


video

And our road this morning...

video

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Caribinieri



No not this photo! This is one of Bessie for all those of you who have been requesting a Christmas portrait of La Bessalina. She tells me that she's been asked to play the part of a sheep in the local Nativity play. Great for the part

Now the story!
Went to fetch my car yesterday evening in the Piazza and it wasn't there! Scanned my brain for the obvious possibilities; onset of Alzheimer's, parked it somewhere else, it's been stolen. Then I noticed the cheese and salami mobile shop was open (it's a long white caravan parked to the side of the Piazza) and I realised that's where I'd parked it an hour previous as it was closed at the time. So I march squeamishly up to said mobile salami and cheese shop and say to the lady owner 'Excuse me, but was there by any chance a Toyota parked here which now isn't?'
'Ah,' she says, 'so it was you, it's been towed away. I waited an hour but couldn't wait any longer'
'So where is it now?' I ask.
'Wherever they take them' she says
A customer tells me I have to go to the Caribinieri because they deal with such misdemeanors. Oh dear! Off I trundle up the hill to the Caribinieri HQ. (calling Lili on the way who says 'Cripes, that'll cost us a bomb') Now these are scary places behind 4 metre high metal barriers and I press the bell and wait breathlessly on account of steep climb and general fear.
Out comes the Marshall (the boss!) (oh My God!)
I say, it was me. I'm the one who had his car towed away.
'Hmmpf' he grunts,' better come inside, it's a grave offence you've committed, where do you live? show me your ID and driving licence. You'll be fined for this, have points taken off your licence and have to pay a whacking fee for the tow away'
'Yes, I say, 'and quite rightly too. It was a stupid thing I did and I'm happy to pay for such a mindless error'
He looks at me with surprise and smiles.
'You know', I say, 'I've been parking in the piazza for years and know jolly well I shouldn't have parked there. How could I have been so reckless!'
He softens even more.
'Oh, hang it all' he says,'We all make mistakes sometimes. Let's forget about it. I'll call the tow away guy and you'll have to pay him of course. He does and he says to the chap 'Look be easy on this chap, it was just a silly error'
'Do you know where the garage is?' he asks.
'Yes, more or less' I answer.
'Do you have some one to take you there, it's quite a way'
'No', I say 'I'll walk, don't worry'
'Oh, it's far too far ' he says,'Come on, grab your documents and I'll zoom you down there'
And he does.
We're there in three minutes flat and he shakes my hand as he says goodbye.
There's my car perched up on the tow away wagon and the driver comes over with a smile.
Oh, sorry I had to do that he says, guess you just forgot, he smiles, happens to us all.
So there I am, ready to drive off, go to pay him and he says,
Hey, don't worry, you don't owe me anything.
Sort of thing that makes you smile inside for days after.
Those little human sympathies which remind me of why I choose to live in Italy.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I quite forgot

Some of you have been kindly asking about Tikka and the state of her paralyzed foot.
Well, sometimes we think she may be getting some feeling back into it, but it could just be wishful thinking. But she gets around just fine, runs like a rocket on three legs and can even climb trees. Can't get down again but we're working on it.
Here's her Christmas portrait for all her fans out there!

Pilates and snow

Snow where it should be (and remain there)..on the mountains that is.

















Oh! With the exception of Christmas where it's allowed to do so (snow) for a couple of days; big flakes drifting dreamingly down but not so heavy as to crush our flowering bushes or take whole branches off our trees like it did last year. Oh, and please can we have no ice, 'cos I went down like sack of Sicilian potatoes last winter on my way to my Pilates class. (This is beginning to sound like a Christmas prayer to Baby Jesus. It can be, it can be...being as it's nearly his birthday and all)
And, talking about my Pilates class, I must say that I was quite put out last evening.
Usually as you know it's just me and twenty ladies. Now after two years, some of them have begun to speak to me. You know, the odd word here and there. like 'Ciao' and 'Buonanotte' Sometimes I even get two or three words or even six put together, such as .'It's chilly tonight, or even 'Can you move your car please' So, in short you see I'm pretty well accepted into the group.
Imagine my horror then, when two minutes into the class, this big hairy brute of a guy barges in and takes a place next to me. Next to me? And really close too. This is a spot I've cultivated as my own for two whole years, just to the left of the orange pillar. OK, I know it's a quarter of the entire space but it's how women are with men. Well it is! Like when they always give up the front seat of a car to a man.
The last remaining vestige of past supremacies you might mumble (but not too loud, especially if Lili is in earshot because she has actually eliminated this last remaining vestige much to the physical and psychological discomfort of male friends who might be visiting).
Where was I ?
Ah yes, this bloke!
So, he comes in late, disrupts the class and then? He starts talking collectively to all the women!! And what's worse they all start giggling and answering back!
And it puts me right off my 'one-legged butterfly' position. In fact my legs have turned to jelly and I'm fiercly inwardly debating whether or not to just walk out of the gym.
And it gets worse! Within minutes he's huffing and puffing and gasping and sweating and clunking me every time we get the 'arms stretch' order Robbie the Pilates teacher turns the music up (I imagine to muffle the gasping next to me) and it's Tom Jones singing 'Sex Bomb' This is too much, I've really gotta talk to him about this, I mean not just the music but allowing other men into the class. By this time my mind and body have lost control completely and I'm competing with him to stretch further and touch my toes for longer, in fact my whole foot!
And he can't. He can't! He can't touch his toes!!
I mean what sort of man is this?
A wimp obviously.
I might have known.
When I get back home and walk into the kitchen, Lili asks 'Why the smug smile on your face?'
Nothing, I say, just a man thing. I was thinking about taking up a manly sport, like darts.
'Oh' she says ' Is it like archery? And can I do it too'
Bad day, bad day!

Monday, November 17, 2008

goodbye

I want to say goodbye to two friends, both young and full of life and energy. Marina died yesterday after a long brave attempt to hang on and come back to us. her sister has written a lovely goodbye too http://be-reckless.blogs.com/be_reckless/2008/11/marina-finally-traveling-again.html.
Goodbye, too, to Gaby. You too were too young to go.
Lili and I wish you both buon viaggio

Monday, November 10, 2008

Truffles and fairies

Do you know what a fairy looks like?
No no, I mean a real fairy!
...They're tiny with little wings and they whisper honeyed phrases like 'Would you like a warm marshmallow?'.
No, please! Quite wrong!
So here, to enlighten you is a picture of a whole bunch of them up in the Sibillini mountains, where, legend has it, they seduced poor young shepherds in fields as they lay.




How do I know this? Well, it's all described, along with other wondrous information, in our new Museum, at the top of the old town in Amandola.
But don't they look delicious? Most probably they all work in local bakeries in the daytime and go searching for poor young shepherds at night which would explain why the latter always look so knackered as I drive past in the mornings..and why shepherding seems to be so popular around here.
But before you rush to sign up for a career of shepherding hereabouts, I should add that these fairies had/ have goats legs and that the poor young shepherds were/are bewitched forever.
Hmmm! Now I think about it, it explains a lot, I mean about the strange nature of some folks about here. Haven't seen any nymphs with goats legs though. Our local bakery girl certainly hasn't got them because she goes to the same Pilates class as me. And I certainly would have noticed, believe me.
Hey! Look! There's a figure behind the Sibyline fairies. Cripes! It could be the devil. Now that is weird!
Oh and here's a picture of our museum. Most impressed I am, most impressed.




Anyway, I was in town to visit the 'Diamante a Tavola' fiera, our local yearly Truffle bash where I bought two jars of marmalade and one of Dog Rose jam. There who should I meet but the President of the local Truffle Society (one step down from God) who tells me that local truffle hero Bernie was up foraging last weekend (of course he got the wrong weekend), and only one small trufflette to boot(read his article on http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/nov/10/white-truffles-amandola-italy) not that it made much difference because this year they are so scarce, that even his very miniscule find would have won a prize......the summer having been too hot and the Autumn rains arriving far too late. Yep, this year they are so scarce and this means they're gonna be costly.

Here are some photos of the fair with small truffles.






Nice weather, nice atmosphere, mediocre marmalade. Mountain living at its best, before the snows arrive.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

24hour cops

You've heard of a sleeping policeman?
Sure you have.
So what do you think this is?
A Darlek.
No, don't be daft..
It's a 24 hour cop. That's what it is...that's what they call them. No, That's not true, that's what they probably would call them if they thought about it, which I'm sure they don't. It's what I call them, maybe it'll stick.
But they are sprouting up everywhere. In towns, outa town, some blue, some orange, some red but all innocuous.
What they do is film you as you drive past (thinking they are just waste bins)... well, you might until you get a speed fine in the post. Yep, any speed over 50KPH and you're done for













And this little piece of living participatory street art below is entitled ' An assasinated 24 hour cop'
Wasn't me what dunnit, honest, but the artist, whoever she was, has the full support and gratitude of most of us locals ( except maybe the town policeman, the human one )
You'll find it on the road to Macerata just north of Sarnano.
Hoot as you pass.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Synchronised divinity

I was going to write a blog about synchronised swimming (see sketch below with me on left teaching my 2012 Olympic hopefuls) at the lake at Fiastra..











......but a friend told me that he had a water diviner coming round to search for water on his land, and..well... I've always fancied myself as a bit of a hot shot water diviner, but I'm always willing to take a step back and learn from others...so I zoomed over to friend's restored mill near Mogliano and met Paulo, the water diviner. Oh, you know, we shot the breeze about our divine experiences, compared twigs, the sort of things we diviners do together when we meet, which is about every half century.
Just kidding really. But I did have crack at it when I lived in Tuscany and after hours wandering aimlessly over swampy fields, I did discover that my twig was twitching, called the digger and we dug two metres down and woosh, out it suddenly came and the well became the water supply for my wondrous veggie patch.
Paulo taught me more than these remembered basics however. You talk to your diving stick (in your mind he said) and it tells you where to go and shoots back when a source of water is found. That day he found two underground streams converging and chose to locate the future well at that point. He said the water is 50 metres down but I find that hard to believe because my inner voice said 10, but we'll see when they dig. (if they ever do, because the source is unfortunately in the neighbours field, bad luck that)
I asked him how he knew the depth to be 50 metres. Same process, he said, I just ask the stick at every stage, 10, 20, 30 metres and so on and it says yes when it's the correct depth.
Does it ever trick you I asked?

Only when it's in a bad mood, he said.

I'm thinking 'I believe the song and not the singer'
Hmm


Paolo at work.... great job, great job.











Saturday, August 09, 2008

First we'll take Manhattan

Having a bad technology day!
In fact I'm nervous about using the computer. Lili says I'd best go back to bed. It started with the washing machine which did strange and lurid things to my posh new beach shorts. Now what do I care about beach shorts? But these were extra swish and I don't mind telling you I cut quite a dash in them (not that I could ever see them, says Lili, over my beer belly) Hmm.
Then this morning I tried to download some images from my telefonino onto my computer.
Zilch! No connection. Try with battery recharger... Zero! Then it dawns on me I'd dug it out wet from the beach bag at Altidona yesterday (somebody had put a bottle of water next to it, the same somebody who made my beach shorts metamorphosize)
And it's hot and everything is wilting in the garden and the promised storm was just an electric one with ten drops of rain
























The telefonino images were of the Leonard Cohen concert which we zoomed over to Lucca to see. It was great, and you felt like it was historic to be there. It was worth the ages it took to get there (a two hour pizza lunch en route for the ladies, you understand), then the hysteria and crushing at the entrance of the concert, then getting lost on the way back and ending up in Orvieto, so deep we were into singing Leonard's songs. So they were the photos...I guess now lost forever along with my telefonino. Oh No!















So here are some more images of the electric storm and the weird orange light that made us look like Martians.
















Tonight there' a Tango festival in San Ginesio, but Lili says we best stay home until it passes.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Animals, babies and sunsets

I've always considered photographing the above categories strictly taboo, especially babies, especially friend's babies; although I must confess to having broken the animal part of the taboo with Tikka and Marina. Went out with friends to dinner at Mogliano yesterday evening and didn't have my camera, although my feeling when leaving home was to take it with me...however there was this gorgeous African sunset the like of which I have never seen. Had my telefonino however and look!
























I never go to Mogliano that often and have never been to this restaurant ever but who should come in but two old friends from Ascoli. We'd parted on bad terms some seven years ago but here we were hugging each other and thus obliterating the past.
So, life is full of surprises.
They had a new baby with them and I wish I'd taken its photo. Taboos and grudges are useless concepts, aren't they?
This week I've been invited out to lunch and to dinner in the evening just about every day. Word has got out that Lili is away on a workshop (what again you ask?) Yes and for Italians this means this poor man is going to starve. Who's gonna cook for him and shop for him? Fridge is empty and the house is a mess. Animals are dropping with hunger and the garden has become a jungle full of wild beasts such as snails and black squirrels. None of this is true (except the black squirrel part), but what is it about women that makes them want to believe we can't cope? As I write this my friend GG calls and says he's heard I'm on my own and his wife says we should meet for a pizza in town tonight.
I say great, 'cos I'm starving and I've run out of baked beans and chips and I don't think I can cope.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Two black mice and one white























Two black mice, one white; a green crocodile, a pink elephant and a white ball. Her play times (of at least an hour) each day. And she checks that all her toys are there. These exercise sessions are essential for her paralysed arm according to our vet, who tells us this evening that she may put a metal plate in Tikka's paw to straighten it. We're not sure though, don't want to distress her. On the subject of distress, I was bringing my paintings back from the Perugia show yesterday evening when the car went dead on me. Sunday evening. 9pm in the middle of nowhere and the other side of the mountains. Went back today to retrieve it. Thankfully car intact and all paintings inside. 31C and frying in the heat I was and I was helped by angels to get the car to a place of safety. Real angels.






Witchcraft tips







In the evening of the full moon, wander down to the forest with Bessie for protection and collect handfalls of wild rose petals from the wood below the hunters lodge, yellow ginestra flowers from a little lower down (but don't wander too far, dear). Then, when you are safely home, soak them in cold spring water from the magic fountain at Rustici, over night under the light of the full moon. In the morning splash your body, in particular your hair and head with the cold flower infused water...and this will sharpen your mind and body and protect you from spells and periods of depression.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Witchcraft

Witchcraft.
Funny, I've only just remembered that I did my thesis at Art College on Witchcraft. Don't ask me why, just something that fascinated me at the time. Not by chance then, you might say, that I find myself living in one of the witchiest places in Europe.
Here are some witchy things to contemplate.
Fred.
This is Fred










Fred emerges at this time every year and frolicks with the fireflies, eats then too I imagine. How old is Fred would you say? Twelve years old possibly, maybe ten?
Forget it, you'll never get near it. He's 164.
None of our seven animals take any notice of him because of his invisibilty. this BTW is Lili's notion, i.e that he only makes himself visible to us as a kind of thank you for bringing him back to the World after he'd made that dreadful mistake (being in the wrong place at the wrong time... in the cattle stalle when they were laying the floor in 1850)
I'd written about this rospo miracle some years back but seeing him on our doorstep last night makes it worth a retell,
I was digging out some crumbling brick tiles from the floor of the old stalle
(now my studio). Dave was giving me a hand and there were two or three bricks which were in pieces but difficult to dislodge. We tried bashing and levering not to no avail, so we had to prise every broken bit out with a screwdriver. I'd taken out the whole of one brick and was removing the mortar beneath when I saw an eye open within the mortar dust; then a slight movement and then 'Yipes!' And we watched, mesmerised, as a toad pulled himself out of the debris, shook himself, gave us both a cursory glance, and wandered out of the door into the garden and into the 21st Century.
That's Fred.

Monday, June 23, 2008

videos and assassins





Today I've been out in the garden aligning my sacred stones. Now what else would you do on the solstice?
video
Up at dawn I was, at 5.30 to check my alignments and listen to the bird song (what bird song? Socksie has eaten most of them...we twigged this when we saw him with a different bird in his mouth at any one time. He is, in short, an assassin and we don't know what to do about it)
Well, eager ears, my dawn stone alignment proved to be a complete success, by which I mean that I can confirm that our planet still is tilted at the same angle and hasn't change its orbit around our sun.
Not so with my westerly alignment at sunset. It was out by 7 degrees. Now this means, either we are heading towards Mars at a rate of thousands of K per second, or that Lilla (Socksie's sister) had jumped on it (as was her habit during the winter for some unknown reason) and Lili had just just stood it up again not respecting my cosmic organisation. Anyway, both deny it.
So equipped with just a garden fork, and under my barked instructions, Lili hopped from left to right as I set my sights from my main mini Stonehenge stone against the westering one, dipping as it was at that moment under the Sibillas' torso.
A passing outsider might have mistaken her movements for a solsticial pagan dance ritual ( Aaah! ..so legends and myths are born I hear you whisper)
But success, westering stone re- aligned and cosmic order (at least in our garden) restored.
Apart, I should emphasise, from the murder of birds, mice , bees and butterflies which is going on faster than Americans eat hambugers. (I mean, are we not feeding them at home that they behave so?)
video
Summer's here at last. Arrived on same mid summer day after weeks of rain and low temperatures. Now we get 30C by day and it looks to stay that way for a while. And look at the lavender!


videoAnd the profusion of butterflies. The live ones that is , not the fallen one-winged victims of Tikka's right paw. Bees a-buzzin too and a heady mixture of a thousand scents fill the air.
Everything good in the garden.
And in the fields around us, Quinto, Graziella and Renzo are cutting and bailing hay.
I like the noise they make and to hear them shouting to each other.
You ask about Tikka.









Still no feeling in her left paw, so we will try another trip to the vets, just to see if anything can be done, although she is getting around just fine. We just worry about when the sheep dogs do their weekly raid and that she might be outside alone in the garden and not be able to escape fast enough. She can't climb trees you see. Built her a ladder though, although when they attack, they are fast and brutal. Bessie does her best as her guardian, but she's getting on in years. Our garden, our garden.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hey! Look at these
http://turismo.comune.perugia.it/canale.asp?id=465


http://sette-bello.blogspot.com/2008/06/portrait-of-artist-as-young-man.html


Now, if you're in Perugia Sat 21st or 28th, I'll be there at the show and I'll buy you a coffee and a cake

Saturday, June 14, 2008

June deep green









Just look at that green! It's supposed to be summer in Le Marche and I should be out there watering for an hour every evening, relaxing after dull day and lit up rouge by the glow of the westering sun, with a bottle of beer and a packet of crisps. But it has rained for almost two weeks now and the only life form getting any benefit on our property are the trees and plants, oh and a worm or two I would imagine and of course a fish would too(if we had one). Hmm, other pluses too now I think about it; reservoirs full, water bills bearable, no dust in the house from passing cars and a great year for trout (which you can fish for E10 a day up near Franco's place on the river Ambro just below the Abbey)
Tomorrow we have to drive across the mountains to Perugia to put up my show of paintings so I do hope it's not bucketing down like it is at this very moment.








You were asking about Tikka
We scoured all the websites for info about nerve damage and made endless trips to the vet but poor Tikka still has no feeling in her left paw. Seems it depends on what sort of damage there is to the nerve, poor mite. So if anybody out there has any info on this front?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tikka











OK, you guessed it!
Our home is rapidly becoming a hospital for pets.
But what other option did we have. We were driving to Ortezzano to dine with friends (at the Osteria 'La Rosa dei Venti' (highly recommended .. really excellent)... and as we passed Comunanza, I saw a little black shape moving in the road; it was getting dark and there were quite a few cars on the road and as we drew close I could see that it was a kitten so I instinctively swerved off the road and parked and managed to stop the cars as we rushed across the road to save the poor little thing.
So here she is. Vet says her sciatic nerve has been stretched and so she is paralysed in her left leg, poor mite, but the feeling could come back with massage, Reiki and vitamins.
So our animal farm now consists of Bessie, Forch, Eva, Marina, Lilla, Socksie and now Tikka (or could be Treacle)

Most of the cat tribe are ignoring her, except for Socks, who is always asleep anyway and wouldn't know if you'd put a tarantula next to him- See pic!














(Bessie likes her though and wags her tail enthusiastically and is thus adored which means she gets fed extra)

Best advice? Keep off the roads as much as possible around this time of the year. Fact is, people dump kittens. They do. Too mean to get females doctored and too lazy to find homes for the offspring. Makes me mad it does!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pizzas and pilates












Would you buy a pizza from this man?
I think not.


And was it Ralph Waldo Emerson who said 'There is truth, then there is journalism'?
Probably not, although it was the sort of thing he would say.
But, whoever said it, obviously had pizzas in mind.
Don't know what I'm talking about?...Read this
http://sette-bello.blogspot.com/
Yes, you've guessed it. it's the weekend of the world famous annual Sant'Ippolito pizza competition.
Now, if ever there were a travesty of the truth, it's this little tale above; a demonic manipulation of the true story, the actual chain of events on that sunny afternoon in Bernie's backyard.

I know what you're gonna say 'Sour grapes'....But I never use 'em, only stone ground olives (are there such things?), and a speck of spek, but I can understand the confusion.
But as my old dad used to say 'A pizza speaks a thousand words'

So, it's enough to look, indeed gaze (ten minutes minimum) in wonder at my masterpiece.











Here you see true art; not only culinary art, but contemporary visual art.
OK I'm too late to enter the Tate competition this year I know, but, come on, you've gotta wonder at its splendour.
Oh, not that I could've entered it anyway, I ate it! So very very delicious it was.
Edible art!
Yes!

...and the Pilates?
After six months of stretching, bending, twisting and contorting my poor body, it's screaming 'enough, no more!'
And me, being the only man in a class of twenty women, I suffered the most. Because the teacher, Roberto, couldn't touch twist and bend the bodies of the ladies as he could mine (being male and all). So I'm more flexible but ache in the places that I used to play and have given myself a summer break. Gardening's gonna be my main exercise until Autumn and swimming and walking and Qi Kong and table tennis (for which, sadly, you don't need twenty women), oh and proper tennis if I can find an opponent, which is doubtful because I'm crap at it.
Massimo might give me a game though, if his toenail is better.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The cuckoos are back

And not only the winged variety.
You think I'm writing about the latest Italian election, don't you? Now look! I don't ever write about politics, do I? Well, I do sometimes when things political nauseate me, so get this, dear reader, just get this.......
What's Berlusconi's first act as Prime Minister, on his first day in office? He invites his mate Putin down to his weekend millionaire's playground in Sardinia to watch a troup of young dancing girls. And what's more, he's trying to flog Alitalia to him. You've gotta laugh at the man, especially when you think of poor old Prodi who used to spend his evenings swotting over Italy's accounts, trying to find ways of getting the country out of debt.
Bring on the dancing girls, that's Berlusconi's solution.
Let's just dance all those silly problems away!

So this is a photo of my new orchard by way of diversion, just so's you don't get bored.
(And you can guess from the long shadow that I'm either a giant or it's 5 mins before sunset).
Trivial?
You bet! but it's because of this fear I have of Italy drifting into mindless triviality.
You see, I have to be it to understand it, because from the outside looking in, it makes no sense to me. Or maybe you can make it easier for me by explaining to me (someone?).... why Italians have put Berlusconi back in power with a solid majority. I just don't get it.
Depressing.
And here's a footnote, just in case you wonder in which direction we might expect our Govt to take.........http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/30/italy

Friday, March 07, 2008

Blackout/Whiteout



Get ready to faint!
Can you imagine a world where you switch your computer on to write another nonsense blog and nothing happens, just a blank screen? (Oh but I bet you can though, eh?, hmmm)
Alright then, a world where you switch on the TV to watch the Texas Primaries and nothing happens (Yes you can imagine that too! Oh!).
Well then...coupled that with no central heating, no chess games with your vista chess programme (it's a genius)..And, to make matters worse, the bread machine hasn't finished its cycle and produced a sort of concrete bun.

You make bread?

Yes I do, look....They say it's the best bread you can find in Sant Ippolito

If I may allow myself a wee boast.



Sadder still, missing your morning tea and only two biscuits Michael you're on a diet.
Yes of course we have a blackout but still I went through all the actions all the same., switching things on and off unconsciously.
So, The electricity lines were down and the snow fell for one whole day up to 40cm.
Trees where down everywhere too and the shrubs in our garden crushed.
It was the Bora, that freezing blast from the dreaded Balkans which picks up moisture from the warmer Adriatic and dumps it on us in the form of snow.

Poor Marche.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

ski day

Beautiful Springlike day, clear open skies without the slightest wind. Nipped up to the mountain above Sarnano and treated myself to a morning's skiing. Just me on the slope, just me! What a privilege. Ok I know it was just the kid's slope and I know I must have looked like a drunken caterpillar skewering my way down but hey! who was there to watch? Just the ski instructor who had only me as a customer. He let me eat my cheese and prosciuto panino and drink my coke on his terrace.
And I read my book 'Winter in Madrid' and soaked up the sun.


Here are some pictures..











By the way, did I ever tell you how I learned to ski? No? It was in the Rockies with a Zen ski master.
I learned a lot about Zen. Not too much about skiing though (still have the head scars)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday




















This morning. Bessie barking like mad and confronting a sheep dog as a local shepherd artfully guides his sheep past our early flowering marigolds. A medieval scene.
It's Super Tuesday in the US and Carnival time here. I'm checking the primaries results on the internet and all I can here is sheep bells. And the news comes up that Italy is to go to the polls again. What? This is a disastrous decision meaning another weak government blackmailed by minority parties.
Who bribed who?. I'm asking myself.
Get the picture?
Understand why I feel confused and perplexed?





And this is yesterday evening in Sarnano. the whole town gets blocked while the carnival passes through. I suppose the western theme had something to do with Super Tuesday. Do you think so? Or the state of the Italian Govt? Or the speed of Italian trains?








On Sunday I went up to Padova where Lorenzo and I had an opening for one of our Red&Blue Art Factory shows..back on Monday after staying overnight. Couldn't face the drive so took a train. Have you ever traveled by train in Italy? Hmmm! Wanna talk medieval again? (See how the themes are overlapping in my mind?)
It's the same day that Spain announces its spectacular new rail system. Two hours from Barcelona to Madrid. And if the train is more than two minutes late you get a full refund!! Can you imagine Trenitalia ever offering that.... the economy would collapse overnight (if it hasn't already)
There's me trying to get to Padova from Porto San Giorgio on the coast. It's Sunday morning and I arrive 15 mins beforehand having wasted half an hour trying to get some cash from a hole in the wall.... Tried three, none working.
There's a herd of customers by the ticket office which is closed with a hand written message on window which says we open at 11 o'clock with an arrow pointing left and the words 'use the machine'
But nobody knows how to. One after the other we try, dialing up destination, class of ticket etc to be instructed to then dial 'OK'. But there isn't an OK button and the train is about to arrive---- Look I say, let's all just get on and explain the situation to the inspector and pay at the other end. They all turn to me as one and say 'What are you crazy and be fined 50 euros?' Oh he'll understand I say. 'No he won't..we've been fined before in the same situation'
Then suddenly pops up a young lady from the town who says 'Hey that's the OK button bottom left, the one with nothing on it...the letters have worn away' So hurriedly we get out tickets, me last of all as the train pulls in and I get one only to Ancona because one of the ladies in the queue advised me not to try and get a ticket all the way as she lost E50 on one of these machines a week before. Oh my!
So on the train I am and it's ten minutes late already and I'm doubting if I'll have time to get a ticket for Padova at Ancona.
Then (of course) arrives a ticket inspector who sneers at my ticket and says I have to pay a E50 fine because it isn't stamped.
I explode!
I say, you should be ashamed!
'Trenitalia is a disaster. It symbolises everything that's wrong with this country and you should be ashamed working for such a crank organisation. there were twenty people
trying to get a ticket this morning, the ticket office was closed, the machine didn't work, the train is late and I probably won't have time to get a ticket to Padova and now you're saying I have to pay a E50 fine?
'It says so on the rules he says'
And service , I say, do you know what service is? All these people paying money and treated like this?
I'm only doing my job he says, and you're foreign aren't you (as if this is an explanation for the difficulty he is experiencing)
What's that got to do with it I shout?
OK, OK, he says and signs my ticket and lets me off the fine.
On the station at Ancona (I just managed to get my ticket in time) I see an poster saying 'Travel by train and make a smaller carbon footprint' and feel an urge to scribble something apt and rude over it...but have no time.
A great time in Padova..nice opening with lots of people.
And when I get back (to cut a longer story short), I stop at the ticket office at Porto San Giorgio on the way out and say to the guy behind the triple strength attack- proof glass 'Look the ticket office was close yesterday morning and there were lots of people trying to get a ticket from this machine here and the OK button is obliterated and it caused a lot of difficulty for people'
'It wasn't closed' he says.'This ticket office wasn't closed'
I lose it again until he finally confesses that true it was closed and what's more the OK button is obliterated, did you know that?
I'll fix it he says.
I wonder, I'll check next time I pass.
Obama's ahead in the first counts and Italy is without a government.
The sheep are settled happily in a nearby field and Graciella and Quinto are up a tree cutting there vines.
I say I think it'll snow next week.
(it's wish talk because my daughter and grandson are here and I want to take him skiing)

Post script



And guess what happened when the sheep came back later in the afternoon?
Socksie (that's him on right) nearly got murdered by three sheep dogs. He was cornered and made a break for it but ran into the herd of sheep: made a swift turn about but straight into the dogs who were so suprised they hesitated and he luckily made a leap for Bernie's tree and just escaped a snapping mouth. So Lili gave him Reichi and he's calmed down but we have had to lecture him on the evils of the outside world (Marimmana dogs in particular)