Italy has been our home for 12 years now, and this house for most of that time. This daily blog documents the joys, difficulties and irritations of our existence. We have our own intrinsic difficulties. My husband, Clive, is disabled and I am partly so through a scoliosis. We have no family but are great dog-lovers, although things aren’t easy in that department either. I love living here. Clive is more circumspect. The very earliest entries in this blog are by him and reveal a different attitude. Maybe, by reading about our daily life, you will be able to tell whose view is the more accurate. Does the pain outweigh the pleasure? Will my writing betray a less rose-tinted reality? Please note: there are also posts under the heading of Daily Reflection on our company website. You can also see the books we’ve written and published:
‘Pipistrello’ is the Italian for bat. Yesterday evening a dead one turned up on the top of a bookcase – half mummified and light as a feather.
Looking closely, I can see its little sharp teeth and folded ears, and make out the webs of its wings tucked against its body.
It must have come through an open window sometime over the summer when the house was being aired but no-one was living there.
Collateral damage, I’m afraid.
This morning the tops of the mountains looked like blue sponge cake dusted with icing sugar.
I knew the snow would melt quickly, just like the hoar frost had already melted to pearly drops on the roses.
It’s a taste of things to come, but I love this season of pictorial contrasts.
I’d always heard that it was the eating of seven pomegranate seeds which prevented Persephone from permanently leaving the Underworld and returning to the beautiful Earth.
Even by homesick maiden standards it’s hardly substantial fare, but I suppose one of the points of the myth is the big difference between nothing and something.
Reading up about it, I learnt that the number of pomegranate seeds in the story varies in different parts of the globe because it’s often taken to represent the number of months of winter which Persephone’s lack of self-control consigned us to.
Here that would be five, I guess: November to March inclusive (or so it seems some years).
I can’t blame poor Persephone. Pomegranate seeds must have looked very bright and attractive in the gloomy realms of Hades.
The photo shows the oak tree whose branches spread over our roof.
There are many other oak trees nearby of a similar size, but none of them quite as massive as this one.
It has a quiet presence, suggesting companionship.
Its progeny is not quiet, however. It likes to make a great deal of noise with each impact, and to masquerade variously as pistol shots, explosions, breaking china, heavy feet, armies of wild boar creeping up – anything, in fact, which the imagination can conjure up.
One of the downsides of this exciting performance is that the rainwater downpipes get choc-a-bloc with a sort of acorn cake cemented with soggy leaves, something which comes to light when the rain starts, as it did today.
I learnt a new Italian proverb yesterday from our plumber/electrician and his wife, who came about our gas heating.
Impara l’arte e mettila da parte.
The literal translation is: “Learn a skill and put it to one side.”
However I take it to mean: “Once you’ve learnt a skill, it’s with you for ever even if you don’t use it.”
If only Clive could take comfort from the sentiment, lying there on his sofa, deprived for a year now of playing his beloved keyboard!
The weather this last year must have suited our strawberry tree because it’s produced quite a crop of its cascading, bell-shaped flowers.
The ‘strawberries’ would normally be present at the same time, but with no flowers previously, it weren’t possible.
Something to look forward to next year, though!
By ‘shrinking’ I don’t mean making him any smaller. He’s already small enough. What I mean is – trying to understand him.
He’s the most rumbustious, daring, energetic little dynamo you could possibly imagine. I saw him today racing through the long grass of the olive grove and thought he was a rabbit running away from himself!
He adores water, and now has to seek solace in the pond having been barred from the top of the pool tarpaulin.
He play-fights constantly with Taylor who’s 3 times his size and no push-over.
He jumps up on the sofa next to Clive and even seems to enjoy Clive’s teasing.
He sleeps beside me at night and I wake up most mornings to find him tangled in my legs.
So far he sounds like a well-balanced, affectionate dog.
HOWEVER he’s terrified of ALL strangers and has been since Day One. He hides when they arrive and doesn’t emerge till they’ve gone.
AND he’s developed a new trait. He often refuses to go outside unless I go with him, which can lead to accidents in the house.
It’s nice to be wanted, though …