Archive for November, 2015


November 30, 2015 Leave a comment
Emptied bins by the car - an attractive display of primary

Emptied bins by the car

Our Paper and Plastic wheelie bins didn’t get emptied on the due days earlier this month and so were chock full.

Last Friday it was the turn of the ‘Undifferentiated’ bin which used to be Glass. Seeing as virtually every type of household waste has its own colour-coded bin situated in a public place, we don’t perceive much of a role for Undifferentiated and still put our glass in it.

The dustmen arrived this morning, Monday, peeked in the Green (Undifferentiated) bin and decided we hadn’t produced enough glass to warrant emptying. Then they seized the Yellow and Blue bins (Paper and Plastic respectively), put them on the lift platform where they rose up into the air together, and emptied them as one into the hopper.

I’m glad we got our bins emptied, but you sometimes wonder what the point of it all is!

The farmer’s boot

November 29, 2015 Leave a comment
Colony of rosy apple aphids on an apple leaf

Colony of aphids on the underside of an apple leaf

In early June, just before I went back to be with Clive in the hospital in Paris, I spotted rosy apple aphids on some of the apple trees.

In the few hours I had before the journey, I picked off hundreds of badly-affected leaves and sprayed the rest with soapy water, thus perhaps avoiding a major infestation.

It bears out the meaning behind the frequently-quoted Italian proverb: ‘L‘occhio del padrone ingrassa il cavallo’  – ‘The owner’s eye fattens the horse’; English equivalent: ‘There’s no manure like the farmer’s boot’.

Today, having at last finished my piecemeal spraying of the orchard with the ingredient I missed out from the first pass, I felt properly re-acquainted with the trees.

It may help me reach some decisions when it comes to the pruning.


November 28, 2015 Leave a comment
Well-trained hunting dogs

Well-trained hunting dogs

Our dogs are rather different from most dogs in this rural area of Italy. To start with they understand English commands, not Italian ones. Then they sleep indoors, not in a kennel, or a huddle at the gate.

Their value is as pets, companions – not guard dogs, herding dogs, hunting dogs or truffle dogs.

The nearby shepherd guards (as opposed to herds) his sheep and goats using ‘Maremmani’ – big, attractive but potentially ferocious dogs with fluffy white fur. There’s often one chained to a trough under the persimmon tree by the road bridge at the foot of the shepherd’s field.

The two hunting dogs in the photo certainly seem well trained and in tune with their handler’s wishes as he ploughs up our field in the course of a boar hunt today.

Several hours later, when I’m guessing the hunt was long over, there was the music of a hunting dog’s bell somewhere the far side of the orchard. The chime was hesitant, as though the dog were wandering unsure what to do, lost in the falling dusk.

A church bell out of the mist

November 27, 2015 Leave a comment
Monte Subasio with radio mast

Monte Subasio with radio mast

I took this photo with a zoom lens from our back door this morning. It shows Monte Subasio – the great whaleback mountain in the background – with the radio mast that transmits the signal for Radio Subasio, a private radio station.

Later in the day I was the other side of Monte Subasio, getting the car loaded up with sacks of pellets. The mountain loomed over us, riding above the mist, with the snow much more in evidence.

A bell was tolling out of the mist.

“What church is that?” I asked the lad who was loading the car. “And why is it tolling in the middle of the day?”

“Oh that’s Santa Maria. There’s a funeral.”

It was almost like the world stopped. Froze. A snowy mountain, a church bell and the thought of someone slipping away into eternity.

“It’s having a real effect on me,” I told the lad.

He smiled, so I’m guessing he understood.

Change of pace?

November 26, 2015 Leave a comment
Not only slow but stopped

Not only slow but stopped

I found this snail shell on the house wall. When I picked it off, I couldn’t see any trace of the inhabitant – only the thin layer of dried mucous which had held it stuck a few feet off the ground.

So, a step backwards on the velocity scale – you can’t get much slower than a dead snail.

Let it not be said that this reminds me of the Italian health system, particularly as today we may have had the first bit of good news since our return to Italy.

I’m not enlarging on it right now for fear of jinxing it …


November 25, 2015 2 comments
Persimmon tree in the shepherd's field

Persimmon tree beset on all sides

The photo shows a laden persimmon tree under a road bridge. I took it today with my phone so the quality isn’t fantastic, but the point is the contrast between the golden fruit and the various un-aesthetic structures and barriers around it.

I’m feeling a similar contrast at the moment. There’s on the one hand the physical beauty of where we live, the tranquillity, the security, and on the other hand the excessive bureaucracy.

A case in point. I phoned this afternoon to ask if Clive could change from two-piece colostomy bags to one-piece, both of which types he’s used in France. Bear in mind that a tight – cruelly tight – rein is kept on quantities issued in Italy.

The steps are as follows:-

  • receive samples sent by post – obligatory but there will probably only be enough for a couple of days
  • decide if they’re OK and tell someone in the hospital department who may or may not answer the phone
  • do something inventive to bridge the gap as last month’s supply will by now have run out
  • collect a letter from the hospital department (an hour’s round trip not counting waiting in line)
  • drop the letter off in the pharmacy (40 minutes round trip) and wait for the doctor to pick it up
  • collect the prescription from same pharmacy a couple of days later if the doctor hasn’t forgotten to write it
  • take the prescription to the ‘distretto’ (Thursday mornings only) to get a new monthly supply sheet
  • take the sheet to the pharmacy if one can be found that is prepared to order the material

Pier, crash barrier, shack, gate, wire fencing –  the persimmon tree’s surroundings don’t come close!


November 24, 2015 Leave a comment
? Common pipistrelle

? Common pipistrelle

‘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.