Thursday, October 07, 2004


Just bits and pieces to report…

Fall is in the air for sure. I’m still adjusting to the differences in humidity. Although it hasn’t rained for a while, you can definitely tell that there’s more moisture in the air. It’s not miserable like in Louisville, but when I hang clothes on the line, I have to leave the heavier things out for two days. Yesterday we had a nice breeze and most of the stuff was dry at the end of the day, but without the breeze everything would have stayed out overnight. In the summer, when the air is REALLY dry, I could hang up clothes in the morning and they were dry within hours, even in the shade. It’s really foggy today, so I hope that the clothes that are still on the line will be ready to bring in this afternoon!

Once winter arrives and it gets rainy, then the fun starts…clothes on the clothes rack, on hangers on every doorknob, and on radiators throughout the house. Thank goodness we have plenty of clothes, and especially plenty of towels!

We went to Montalcino with Larry and Jill on Tuesday. The original plan was to stop in Montalcino, visit the shops, have some lunch, then head to the Banfi winery. We had been to Montalcino only once before, and this was Larry and Jill’s first time, so we spent quite a bit of time just wandering in and out of shops. I found the olive wood bread board that I had been waiting to buy, and we also bought a few bottles of wine. Oh, and I picked up Isabella Dusi’s newest book. I’ll have to go back and re-read “Vanilla Beans and Brodo” first, just to refresh my memory about the people and places in Montalcino.

We ate lunch in a cute little restaurant that Art and I had found on our previous visit, and splurged on a bottle of Brunello, which was delicious. By the time we finished lunch and wandered a bit more, it was too late to bother with Banfi. Maybe another day.

I brought some pesto for Larry and Jill, since they had given me the basil plants they had pulled from their garden on Sunday. In return, Larry brought me some of his WONDERFUL spaghetti sauce. I’m going to share his recipe, and hope that he doesn’t mind!






We REALLY enjoyed this sauce! Thanks Larry!

Let’s see…what else is new? OH, we finally talked to Adamo yesterday, and he said we are more than welcome to have our garden in his yard again next summer. I told him I would like to plant a few more things next year, so I’ll probably move some of the stepping stones at the far end of the yard. I’d like to amend the soil this week or next, and remove as many of the rocks as I can. I’d like to add something to help the soil retain moisture. I’m not sure that peat moss is the answer, since that will make the soil more acid. I do want to bring back some of those water holding crystals that I bought at Lowe’s. I need some for the area where I want to plant my rose, so I guess I’ll just have to bring back several containers of it.

Adamo also asked us if we would be interested in attending Italian classes here in San Venanzo. YES!!!!! He also asked us if we would help him (and others, I’m assuming) to learn English. We told him that we aren’t teachers, but that we would be happy to do the best we could.

We haven’t seen any work started in the park behind our house. I’m hoping that if nothing happens in October (as promised), when the Farnesi’s return in November they’ll be able to complain to the right people and hopefully get the work started.

We had lunch with Enrico and Wilma last Sunday. Jill and Larry were able to come, and we went to Maria’s…this seems to be Enrico’s regular Sunday lunch place. Jill and Larry were as apprehensive as we were the first time we drove down the very long and very bumpy gravel road leading to Maria’s. I don’t know how long this place has been serving food, but obviously word of mouth is more than sufficient to keep them very busy. Every time we’re there it’s packed and I would guess that reservations are a must.

After lunch we drove to Enrico’s ranch. This was the first time that Jill and Larry had seen it, and we saw the progress that had been made since our last visit. The first small cottage the Enrico is building has changed considerably. What was going to be a small, three room cottage on one floor has now evolved into a much larger building. The original section, with three rooms on one floor will now house the Living room, dining room, small kitchen, and another room...maybe a more casual living space. And a bathroom.

The bedrooms will now be within the TOWER that Enrico is building right next to the house. The ground floor of this tower will house the cantina for storage, and will also hold another living space and a bedroom on the top floor. I had thought there would be a larger kitchen somewhere, and I thought it was going to be in the tower, but Enrico said the tower is only for the night, i.e., sleeping. Maybe the back room of the other part will be the larger kitchen…I was really confused, since these changes were made somewhere along the way. Why he decided to build this tower is beyond me. He wants to build an additional three or four cottages on the property, and expects to have this Wild West vacation spot ready by next summer! It will be very interesting to see how this works out.

Enrico had called about a week ago and asked Art if he would buy a saddle while we were in the states in December! He said he would give us €1000, although I don’t have any idea what a saddle would cost, much less what the shipping costs would be. Of course Art said yes…he figured he could ask some of his friends at the track for advice. On Sunday Enrico told us that we won’t have to do this for him…he’s going to Texas in February!!! Wilma will have to stay home to feed the horses, dogs, donkey and wild boar.

I had a surprise this morning. I keep the large board I use when making bread and pasta between the frig and the end cabinet. Today when I pulled the board out, attached to the bottom of the board was a small scorpion! It was about the size of a penny. Of course I didn’t want scorpion guts on my bread board, so I had to shoo him off with a paper towel, them stomp on him before he ran under something else! A nice “crunch!” let me know that he was no longer a danger!

Things like this make me wonder where ELSE they’re hiding. I wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t walked downstairs one night and seen the scorpion on the wall…or what would have happened if I hadn’t gone into the laundry room when I did to discover a scorpion on the floor…or what would have happened if Art hadn’t seen the little claw sticking out of the vent hole in the bathroom sink? How many more of these creepy little critters are hiding in strange places?! I guess that’s a question I might not want the answer to.

We’re planning to go to a jousting tournament this weekend in San Gemini, which is south of Todi. I need to find a website with info so that I know what time the festivities will begin. I’m hopeful that the very nature of this festa will ensure that it begins before dark, as is the norm!

We need to drive down to Marsciano to get money out of the Postal Bankomat (ATM). My daily limit, set by my US bank is $500 per day. For some reason, certain banks here won’t let me take out that full amount. The bank here in San Venanzo, Cassa di Risparmio di Orvieto will only let me with draw €200, or about $250. Through trial and error, we discovered that the PostalBank will let us withdraw €400, which at the current exchange rate is right at $500. I need to make several withdrawals so that I have a substantial enough amount to deposit in the bank. We keep waiting for the dollar to get stronger, but it doesn’t seem to be happening!


At 10/07/2004 01:32:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


I love your blog and can hardly wait for the next installment. I am so impressed that you are living your dream. I salute you and hope to follow in your footsteps some day! And I agree with your thoughts about Bush. I am so fearful that he will be re-elected and this country will really be flushed down the drain. Keep writing!!

Martinez, CA

At 10/09/2004 04:57:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is Judith Decobabe, just too lazy to create an account.
Non-political comment, although I have plenty of attitude and hope my ballot gets here soon so I can step on the scorpion in the Casa Bianca!
This has to do with Dusi's book. I enjoyed reading it mostly, but eventually I had my doubts about all of it because the Italian was so poor, so incorrect, so misspelled. If someone is so careless about something so easy to fix, then how can I believe that she checked out the history, etc.? In the end I couldn't recommend the book to anyone.
I still recommend "Extra Virgin" and the following book by the same author.

At 10/09/2004 07:14:00 AM , Blogger Barbara said...

Anne, thanks for the kind words. Be sure to vote!

Judith, thanks for the info on the Dusi book. Since it's been quite a while since I read "Vanilla Beans and Brodo", I don't remember much about the specifics, but when I first read it, I probably wouldn't have noticed errors in Italian. I'm not even sure that I would recognize them now! I'm hoping it will be someting to pass an afternoon or two without too much frustration.

I don't remember being overly impressed with "Vanilla Beans...". nor with "Extra Virgin", but I do plan to re-read them both. Perhaps now that I can identify with some of the situations, I may react differently.

At 10/10/2004 02:39:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/10/2004 02:40:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very much enjoy your dribble.

At 10/11/2004 04:42:00 AM , Blogger Barbara said...

Now THERE'S a backhanded compliment!!! When I don't post all this "dribble" (did you mean to say "drivel"?), I get emails complaining that I'm not posting, so what's a girl to do? As usual, I do what I want, and write with the idea tha one day Art and I will be reading these storIes to each other in the nursing home. I'm sure there will be times when we'll look at each other and say "What was I thinking when I wrote THAT??!!!"

At 10/11/2004 03:43:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep that dribbly drivel coming! People can call it whatever they like, but I enjoy the read and require regular "fixes".


At 10/12/2004 10:06:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you stop worrying about every comment? Why do you feel the need to justify your every position and get the last word? You have several people who enjoy your blog and there will always be dissenters. You are living the life you want to live so you have conquered half the battle of a lifetime. Just write and ignore the comments you don't like!

At 10/13/2004 07:27:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you publish a blog and provide a section for comment, it ceases to be just for your own reading when you reach old age, it's now an invitation for all to join in the conversation. And as in every conversation and discussion, there are likes and dislikes, pro and con, praise and sneer. You can receive all comments and leave them at that, or you can continue to do as you did, deleting all the negative ones and only keeping the positive ones (although why would anyone want to live in a delusion world by fooling him/herself into thinking that he/she is loved and admired by all?). Whichever way you choose, as the previous poster has stated, there shouldn't be a need for you to have the last word in all the time, that's a bit like competition and rather childish.

At 10/13/2004 07:38:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blog is the newest and worst cyber invention. Since its birth, every Joe Blow thinks of himself as a writer, and feels the need to air every little mundane thoughts and activities. Why do I read them, you might ask? For the laugh mostly.


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