Thursday, May 16, 2013

The pergola last summer. I'll post an update.
It's a new year and time for me to check out the new formatting of this blog site to see if I can get back into easily loading photos. We'll, spring is here and time to sell our slice of heaven. It breaks my heart a bit, but perhaps it can take a year or two to move it along so I will enjoy the seasons as they come, and for certain this summer even though I have a short stint at the sea here in Italy, and a few weeks to immerse Ray in his American culture. If you know of anyone looking for the most beautiful Italian stone farmhouse, send them my way. Okay, I am already seeing changing the font is a pain in the neck. I'll give it a go and see how frustrating, or hopefully not, this will all be. A presto.
Ray and his love of lego hero factory dudes.
 Grrr, captions are a set font.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Italian Summer

I am a PERFECT example of one who makes a resolution only to not keep it. But now I am officially on vacation at home with time to write, and so I will. I just wish the downloading of photos worked better on this site, but I am hopeful things have been improved since January. (And they are, as I just posted these three photos much more efficiently than in the past. Woohoo!)
Castaldo in June

Third summer for this climbing rose.
Happy summer, everyone. It has been a long winter and why did I ever think it would never be hot again?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year!

Ciao from Monzuno! One of my resolutions this year is to spend less time on facebook and to start posting again on this site. Not a strong writer, but I do miss expressing myself here and posting photos. Along with speaking in Italian more, I 'll work hard to maintain this promise.

The sunrise this morning, from the kitchen window.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Knocked

Tori, me, Christine, Patty and Mary
Well hellooooo. It has been a long time since I last posted and I am sorry. Life was racing past me but now summer is here, school finished this past Friday and I can get a life again. I had a great 4 day (only) visit home for Lauren's wedding in NJ a few weeks ago, attended the wedding of Will and Kate in London, and am taking a week vacation in Switzerland on July 11th. In between, just have been working and gardening and preparing for some visitors in July (Keiko, Pico and Tom).  August is still relatively free so if anyone wants to visit, just hint!Oh, and we celebrated Ray's 6th birthday and my 50th.
(And now I just had to pause to remove a young bird from the chimney flu. I came in the kitchen this past spring to find a full grown owl on the floor. I covered him with a windbreaker and released him outside. It was beautiful to watch his wings unfold as he flew away).
Ray is doing great. He is in camp in Loiano this week and seemed happy enough to be there even if he doesn't know any other kids. I told him to make some friends since these are the local kids and he can invite them over to play. I hope it's fun as tomorrow they spend all day in the pool and Thursday all day with horses. Love the country - camp in Bologna meant all day on the concrete playground.

As a result of the HHI show, we had had some inquiries about buyers for the house. An architect in Canada wants to buy both our and the neighbor's property, but there is no way they would sell. We would consider especially since we decided to keep Ray in school in Bologna (he begins first grade in September) and Andrea's mom is getting more frail and is going through some health problems. We'll see what pans out but of course we are very happy to stay, especially since I want to see all our plantings mature and how does one go back to a city after the serenity here, and we do love our neighbors Rita and Filippo (who hosts an outdoor Sunday lunch every weekend).
Here are some photos - like the new pergola? We really love having a place to eat outside. (I am still being challenged posting photos so bare the "brutto" layout problems I am having.)

Rita and Filippo's Sunday lunch
Together for the first time in 8 years.

First tire swing
Best friend Michael from Michigan
Birthday boy

Friday, April 15, 2011


(NOTE: I wrote this on March 15th but had problems posting. Here it is, albeit a bit late.)
We suffered our last major snowstorm a few weeks ago - we slept in Bologna for a week to avoid having to return and deal with the icy driveway. It was a nice break to stay in the city and not have to commute, and the bonus is that I can't wait to return to the peace and quiet of Castaldo (that is the name of the house if I failed to mention that previously). So now it feels as though spring is finally showing her colors - the air smells fresh and earthy, the deer are calling in the night to breed, and the birds are waking me up at 5.30 every morning. Today is a national holiday, only for this year, the celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Italy's unification. Ray would probably love for me to take him into town to see the miliary celebrations, but I invited a few girlfriends over this afternoon to sip prosecco and make pizza. Sorry Ray! But I will take him this morning to the garden shop to stock up on some lavender plants and he can run around there a  bit. If I can get my act together, we can squeeze in a walk in the woods.
This site offers some new features, so I will post some photos using the labeling of photos. )Forget it, it is a bit of a disaster and the layout stinks!)

Sunday morning, town center, Loiano

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just sayin'...

Say, is there Beauty yet to find?
And Certainty? And Quiet kind?
Deep meadows yet, for to forget
The lies, and truths, and pain? . . . oh!
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?
(Rupert Brooke)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Walk in the Woods

The temps went into the 50s yesterday and today, so it was time for me, Ray and Asia to take a winter walk this morning on an unexplored trail behind our house. It was an old track that had been used back in the farming days, and we followed it only halfway around the back of the mountain where I assume it blends in with another existing road. It was nice to seek some serenity through nature on the anniversary of Daddy's death. Hard to believe that 23 years have since passed (it could still be only yesterday).

When we were buying the house, the previous owners didn't tell us about these trails that run close to the property. Probably because it is used by the public (motorbikes, horses, school outings, etc.) and therefore it exists an element of vulnerability for homeowners seeking some isolation (like yours truly), but I feel having these trails are beneficial in countless ways (and hopefully my thighs will thank them in bikini season).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas, Darlings

It's that time, again, and already. Though I have not been in touch with anyone consistently, please do know that I am thinking about you. I bought my ticket home for a 5 day visit in June that seems almost not worth mentioning, and am hoping hoping hoping for some stateside visitors to come to see me.

Halfway into my first week home from work - the school is closed for 3 weeks so I have a generous break. Winter has been good to us so far with only one snowfall that required a plowing of the drive. I hope it continues this way and though we were fortunate to not get hit with the storms the rest of Europe is suffering through, we have some very cold temps. Lovin' the fireplaces, I must say, and I look forward to opening the Winter Pimms that recent visitor from London, Agnes, brought with her.

Christmas eve will be celebrated at friends Harriet and Robbie' house, with Katherine, Julia and a total of 6 kids including Ray. I am making gyoza! Christmas day is planned in Lugo with a lunch reservation at a restaurant (my mother-in-law is breaking tradition as it was her idea). Then we head to the Marche to see the Hoddell's who are here for a few days from their new residence in Kenya. All good.

Monzuno is as beautiful this time of year as she is in the summer. The views and sunrises are spectacular and in our little microclimate here, we can see the heavy clouds below us and often we are ten degrees warmer then at the bottom of the mountain. A nice surprise as we expected to be freezing more than the town residents!

Wishing you the best for Christmas and a great New Year. Memories of past celebrations, and the making of new ones, keeping me sane while I miss my family and friends.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hitting close to home, again...

A message from a best friend from high school, Jim Shargo. Sisters, I think you remember Beth and certainly you heard about Lori O. passing away this summer. We all have so much to be grateful for.

just heard from marybeth h that beth c passed away suddenly, sometime over the thanksgiving cause of death is known at this time (not a heart attack or stroke, and supposedly she was not ill)...marybeth gleaned the info from several of our former classmates facebook pages so the details are kinda sketchy...beth left behind two young sons...wot the fuk, this kinda shit just should't's times like this that bring home the realization that life is so fucking fragile and that at any given moment everything you take for granted could be taken away without warning or reason...i just want you to know that despite all the years, the miles, the good times and all the bullshit we shared i treasure the memories of our misspent youth and value the friendship we, jim

Saturday, November 20, 2010

In the past couple of months, I relied more on facebook to post accounts of what I have been up to, but miss posting here so I am giving up one for the other (it sounds like chosing one lover over another, which in a sense is accurate if you consider the time invested...).

Anyway, settling into the house has become much easier in spite of the much cooler weather. It helps to have two fireplaces going to keep the stone walls warm, though the real freeze has yet to come. In addition, our neighbors Rita and Filippo could not be nicer and Ray is getting very attached to them. He sometimes goes over to visit and draws at their kitchen table while chatting with them, and Rita carved a pumpkin for him for Halloween. We really lucked out there. Hosting a slew of friends has kept me busy and almost every weekend we have a number of them here. It has been great for Ray who now has space to play without me yelling at him to keep the noise down (here he is with his first candlelight dinner with friends, Anna and Ella, and with his best friends, Michael and Yeelan - always posing as superheroes).

Friend Tom came to visit from NJ for (only) 5 days at the end of October when I had a week off work. It was nice to have him embrace everything Italian and it was fun to have a shopping partner. We hit Venice, Florence and Bologna though the weather prevented us from taking advantage of more exotic locations such as the fall beach scene of the Adriatic. Next time....

I have been also getting quite good at hosting aperitivos at home though I would like to increase my experimental cooking. (Above is a photo of a pot of ragu, and a plate of tagliatelli with a shaved local truffle). Next weekend I am having Agnes visit from London and invited 20 for lunch on Saturday so I will take this opportunity to learn how to roast meat on the grill, though the fireplace in the kitchen works well for small pieces such as sausage and chicken.

So, for the moment, the hightlights of being here have been fireplace, views, dog-sitting Lucy, hosting and cooking. Most of all, getting a break out of the city and the fresh air. Well worth the commute. Visit.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Getting ready for the cold...

Guess what we did today.

We had our wood shed put in a couple of weeks ago to get ready for the delivery, but needing exercise I wanted to stack it ourselves. It was kind of fun. Four hours of it. Fun. Really.

If you like stuffed pork loin, cut the loin in a spiral till flat, then line it with sage leaves. Add sausage meat, then a layer of fresh mushrooms. Put a cooked carrot on the end. After tying up the loin, roll it in salamoia seasoning (I gave everyone a jar in a past visit), sear it in a hot pain, then roast it in the oven. I toss in the diced potatoes when it is cooked halfway. Slice and waalaa - serve it with some crusty pugliese bread to your friends who come and visit by motorcycle.