Friday, September 24, 2010

Vendemmia Sun

We haven't seen a Harvest Moon here yet but we have seen the Vendemmia Sun
Our next door neighbors have a grape vine that makes its way over the summer to our portone (front entry porch).  It is a welcome visitor.  We were shocked to find it completely cut down one morning last weekend.  Fortunately, the looks of grapes around town made me think to start taking pictures before the Vendemmia--grape harvest--begins. Vendemmia began a bit early for our neighbors--apparently, they were glad the grapes were ready because they wanted to see the sky again.  I, on the other hand, miss the vine.  They keep saying it will be back in the spring--trying to convince me that it is a good thing that it is gone.  I'm not from around here, but I'm a gardener, so I know they could have waited until the leaves fell.  I'm pretty certain that this is one of the things they wanted to avoid.  Food for the goats, gather it now and see the sky again.  For me, that sky is too full of Enel's (the Electric Co.) vines.  I don't have a picture of the naked grape trunk, but you can imagine:

"Our" vine in happier times--assuming it liked its leaves too.  A day or so before the trim.
Carmelina shared the grapes with us, they were big green table grapes, with a few seeds
As I said, I was inspired to record the bounty before harvest.  First, we walked around town looking at vines similar to Carmelina's. Not enough for wine but good for shade and a few grapes:

Some of these "downtown" vines looked more serious than others.
We started to wonder how many bunches you would need just to make a bit of wine for the family.

We kept walking into the surrounding countryside where more serious subsistence farming takes place.
There seems to be more than one method for training vines in the field:

My photographer was getting tired at this point, so we walked back to our house, not knowing that "our" vine had only a few days left this year to see the light.

The sunset made things up for us.  Isn't it funny how we resist change only to find that things also change for the better.  All summer we are deprived of sunsets from our terrace due to a big hill to the northwest of us.  Then, suddenly near the beginning of fall, the sunsets are in view once again until next summer when they disappear just as the swifts return along with the big green leaves of the grape.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Weather Station Santa Domenica Talao

A pensionato needs a hobby--maybe two or three. We both are getting better at Italian just having to speak to neighbors, merchants and builders each day. In a year or two I want to be able to sit down with my neighbors and really chew the fat. A couple from Chicago is next door at their holiday apartment for a couple weeks and we are all eating with Italian friends tonight. The Americans try, the neighbors try (including their sons who speak a bit of English), and by golly we get some understanding and lots of laughs. They are having pizza made in their wood-fired oven. There seem to be quite a few people in the village with the ovens and they bake both bread and pizza in them.  Last week the same Italian couple fed us a full fledged Italian meal and there must have been three dozen large shrimp—complete with heads and tails (after antipasta, spaghetti with clams, potatoes and vegetables, bread, followed by drinks cake, etc)--Great food but I could not eat the next day.

There nevertheless are lot of hours that earning a living took from our days that we now are deciding various ways to put to good use. My colleagues gave me money for a weather station as a retirement gift. Obtaining it here was a challenge. The people at Oregon Scientific (in Oregon) told me to buy the gear in Europe so the electrics worked, etc. Well, the Italian website wouldn't take an American credit card, the English website had some issues with credit card security that I didn’t like--so I turned to another English retail site and they would sell, but not ship to Italy! I ended up shipping it to our Welsh friend in London who drove the stuff down to us.  At times it seems everyone is conspiring against Americans.
But it came this month and it set up on the roof just fine after some initial scenic quality issues:

I guess I miffed some English friends when I suggested that a little rain would be nice. If you come from London, you’ll never miss rain?! Sunshine is great, but I like the change in weather and the views that weather brings. I can record rainfall, temperature, humidity, wind direction and wind speed and also see things as they happen. The storms we had last week left us with 3.69 inches (93.8mm) of rain in three days.  We had some wind gusts to 37 mph.  That sounds like Zigzag, Oregon where I worked! The storms always come as squalls that don’t last, but you get a series of squalls one after the other.  I watched the squall in the first picture above come ashore and make its way to us.  Anyway, these late summer storms are similar to the winter storms here, but they are much more frequent and stronger in winter. Last week’s weather ended three months of sunshine and I also put long pants and socks/shoes on for the first time in months.  Today, people are all back at the beach.

PS, I didn’t read the small print and the weather gear doesn’t come with software for Macs, so if I want to download to the laptop, I have to spend another $50 for some private software. Aieeee
Di and I loved to watch thunderstorms in Oregon but the ones here are impressive!  We unplug the computer when they get close. They almost always knock-put our wireless internet for half a day or more. I managed to get some pics of a storm that was in the Diamante area south of us:

And then you often get other eye candy from a storm that is just not possible on a clear blue day. This arcobaleno pic was taken last week--the day after Di posted the other, less perfect one taken in the exact same place as this double one:

My other hobby-- the remodel --will be complete this month we think.  Just waiting on the kitchen components, some marble for the fireplace, iron railings and final details...

Ciao a presto, Guido

Friday, September 10, 2010

Our Town-In Reality and Dream

Where we live--Santa Domenica Talao
Guido and I were at the Comune offices to collect our Carte d'Identita (Identity Cards and certification of Residency). Maria showed us the paper form she had typed up and asked if it was correct. I noticed that she had my place of birth as Illinois--the state (as on my Passport) rather than Palatine, the town, as I knew they wanted.  Guido was not happy with me for pointing out that it was not correct--but I was warned to make certain there were no discrepancies for a bureaucrat to notice later. We have been a long road to Residency. Nevertheless, we had our cards the next day:

The front and back covers of our Carte.  Americans take note--
You need your Permesso first and must keep it up to date.
This card allows you to get health coverage, own a car, etc.
I spent my first 18 years in Palatine, then never lived anywhere permanently until we moved to Oregon and bought Rainshadow Farm 22 years later.  We lived in Oregon on the farm for 20 of our most productive years.  We were busy both at work and on the farm.  I lived my dream to have a greenhouse and nursery--at least on a small scale.  Most of the time we were on the farm we believed we would stay there until death--the "forever" people refer to when hanging on to their illusions. We didn't realize that sometimes life changes your illusions. It turned out Doug was tired of farming--all the work.  I was tired of fighting life in the desert--making it bloom. It happened quickly but for good. I remember that Doug was first to blow up our farm idyll. I resented him for that for awhile--as I'm a woman who needs a dream.  We took a trip to Italy in 2005 and somehow a new dream emerged rather unexpectedly.

Most people assume that we live here in order to travel all over Italy and Europe. Lots of expats do just that. People are always asking us where we have gone since they last saw us. Yes, we will take trips short and long, but they are not our purpose here.  We are not trying to cram in all the places we can see and find.  We are trying to know and be known to our new town and to the people around us, as naturally as possible.  There is no rush, there is no preconceived goal. We are traveling by living here in our town in a quality way that can't be reproduced in a quick trip to anywhere.  First the people:

Some processions happen by day
But we are learning that nearly everything happens after 9PM

At least the landscape allows us morning types to enjoy it while the Italians sleep. We get up and have our coffee and watch the changing sky then catch up with it again at cocktail hour (we have learned more rituals here but keep our own too):

Close-up of Stromboli from our terrazzo
So we are trying to earn our stripes as residents of this place. We will never be natives, but we can be at home here with all that it can come to mean to us.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Restoration Fun Update 4 (Sunrise to Sunset)

Stomboli is visible to the left of the Blue Umbrella on the horizon...but even I have trouble seeing it and I know it's there
My title is a clever (?) ruse to allow me to discuss the weather as well as progress on the restoration. 
It was shocking.  Exactly on September 1, all the tourists left and the weather instantly changed.  We were able to see Stromboli in the distance, the air is fresco and it's cooler with rain now and then.  This morning, for instance.  Meanwhile, things the August snail pace work on the restoration has picked up a bit with the arrival of doors, finish for the travi (rafters) and paint and tile for the walls.  Talk about fresco!
Doug loves to catch me in horrible clothes or from the back,
He makes fun of other husbands who show off their wives in photos, no danger of that here.  Note the paint.

The glass doesn't come ready placed in the windows
Long awaited new Bedroom doors, The wood is Castagno
Local Chestnut
Our impresa Angelo with his fratelli (brothers) who own the window and door company--Eh!
They sing while they work so I guess business is good enough
New bedroom window with a new local fire visible
I couldn't resist a few beforish afterish pictures here.
Note window
Refinished window.  Doug and I did the iron refinishing
I took the pic today, it's raining so a bit dark...
My most favorite before picture in the world
I actually took a "shower" in this bathroom when the
guest apt. was the only habitable area.
Note the bucket for the shower.
Same view, new tile, New shower plumbing is roughed in.
Our new weather is making glorious sunsets


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