2015 Extravaganza


The first in a series

Way back In January, I realized that Ben would be having a significant birthday this summer.  A few years back when one of my significant birthdays arrived, Ben and I celebrated in Monte Carlo and he gave me a beautiful piece of jewelry (that was when we still had hotel loyalty points and airline miles, oh, and money).   (He also gave me a card, which I set on the top ledge of the bed head board which was very tall and flush against the wall.  Well somehow the card fell down behind the head board that went all the way to the floor and there was no way to get it out.  It must have been a true puzzle when the room was redone and the furniture moved  to find this card.)  So he had set the bar for significant birthday celebrations pretty high.  What to do….what to do?

I started looking on the internet.  I found this great trans-Atlantic cruise that left from Italy, made several stops in Spain and Portugal and then docked in New Orleans where Ben’s oldest daughter and grand daughter live.  Perfect, absolutely perfect.  I was ready to book but then decided I should check on return to Europe airfares.  Well, the one way airfare back was more than the 15 day cruise.  I decided to email the cruise line to see if they could offer any suggestions.  It took them 4 WEEKS to respond.  Guess what, I had moved on to other ideas by then.

I finally hit on a plan to bring Ben’s daughter and grand daughter to us.  Maria and Spring were excited to come.  The other daughter, Annalisa, helped them book a ticket.  And today, using some deceit involving our friends John and Richard, Ben and I set off to the train station in Arezzo to pick up John and Richard’s Belgian friend and her daughter. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)  But look who turned up instead….

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 Maria, Ben and Spring



Now, we are off to France.  Spring attends a French immersion charter school in New Orleans.  And we are going to be the grand parents that take her to France.  So it will be a while before you see anymore posts but watch for them. 







Man, that woman!


Guest Post: by Nerone, the dog


So She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were out for our morning walk and She started jamming this flower pot saucer under me when I was trying to ‘shake a leg’.  I mean, really!  She and I are close, but this is about the limit!  Then we had to stop and She poured the little bit that She caught in some tube.  I don’t know where She got that from.  And then She jammed that saucer under me AGAIN!  Well I just stopped what I was doing so we had to walk some more.  I tried shaking my leg again and there was that saucer AGAIN!  I let her have a little bit, thinkin’ maybe She’d leave me alone,  But NOOOOOO, after we walked some more and I just couldn’t wait any longer I pretty much filled up the plant saucer but made sure to catch it with my leg so that She got all splashed!  Man, She was irritated!  But She finally got enough to fill up that little tube. 


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And then when we get back to the house She makes me go back inside instead of sittin’ out under my tree and workin’.  And She goes rushin’ off to Arezzo.  And then She’s back fussin and all because I have to have some special, expensive food.  I have crystals!   Whatever that means.  So that silly doctor in Arezzo suggested a new food.  Well, we all know how I feel about changin’ anything.  Never a good idea.  I see a lot of vomiting ahead….


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More Sagra and Festa Posters, June, 2015


Tough year, this year for sagras and festas.  It keeps raining!  Thunderstorms right now at 6:45 PM so not sure how the last of these will fare.  I think it is a number of stands selling food as you walk around the town.  But in 5 minutes it could stop raining. 

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Look what finally arrived



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Yeah, plain old hummus.  I can now buy it in the grocery store.  Pretty big deal for here.  Chick peas are so popular here but even in big cities it is hard to find hummus.  But now my Esselunga is stocking it.  Whooo hooo.  But I have to go to another store to get decent Arab flat bread to serve it with.  Go figure…


Peonies and the ‘new tulip’


Yes I am still writing about flowers from the wedding.

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The peonies had gotten a little ‘buggy’ so they had to hang outside.  Behind them are…


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what Richard called ‘the new tulips’. 


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They photograph better than they looked in real life.  And maybe the bunch I had was not cared for correctly.  (They might have sat for a day or two before I cut the stems and put them in water….)  Still my neighbor, Ida and I looked at them, she said ‘bruta’, I said ‘butt ugly’.  But we left them to brighten our doorstep.


I have looked them up on the internet and the variety is called ‘ice cream’.  Well, discussions about the ‘new tulip’ led to discussions about tulip mania.  (This is what happens when you hang out with folks who were CEOs and math/econ majors)  This is a short bit about tulip mania from Wikipedia

Tulip mania or tulipomania (Dutch names include: tulpenmanie, tulpomanie, tulpenwoede, tulpengekte and bollengekte) was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then suddenly collapsed.[2]

At the peak of tulip mania, in March 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble (or economic bubble),[3] although some researchers have noted that the Kipper- und Wipperzeit episode in 1619–22, a Europe-wide chain of debasement of the metal content of coins to fund warfare, featured mania-like similarities to a bubble.[4] The term “tulip mania” is now often used metaphorically to refer to any large economic bubble (when asset prices deviate from intrinsic values).[5]

The 1637 event was popularized in 1841 by the book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, written by British journalist Charles Mackay. According to Mackay, at one point 12 acres (5 ha) of land were offered for a Semper augustus bulb.[6] Mackay claims that many such investors were ruined by the fall in prices, and Dutch commerce suffered a severe shock. Although Mackay’s book is a classic, his account is contested. Many modern scholars feel that the mania was not as extraordinary as Mackay described and argue that not enough price data are available to prove that a tulip bulb bubble actually occurred.[7][8]

Research is difficult because of the limited economic data from the 1630s—much of which come from biased and very speculative sources.[9][10] Some modern economists have proposed rational explanations, rather than a speculative mania, for the rise and fall in prices. For example, other flowers, such as the hyacinth, also had high initial prices at the time of their introduction, which immediately fell. The high asset prices may also have been driven by expectations of a parliamentary decree that contracts could be voided for a small cost—thus lowering the risk to buyers.


link to the whole article


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I preferred the peonies. 

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Well, anyway, the door looked nice for a few days. 


The Bronte Sisters Entertain


A few weeks back, Richard brought over his chickens, The Bronte Sisters, to stay at Auntie Martha’s Holiday Hen House.  The sisters are regulars there and always enjoy their stay.  (Look for their reviews on Trip Advisor) (just kidding)


This time they had the added benefit of hanging out with Nerone’s homies, the boys upstairs and their friend. 


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I think this is Charlotte with Leonardo


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And here are Emily and Anne with Lorenzo and his friend.  You’ll note Nerone in the background keeping a watchful eye. 

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I was amazed that these three hung out with the chickens for at least a half an hour maybe longer.  But they are well socialized chickens and can hold up their end of a conversation.  As long as there is rice….

One More Thing Breaks….


There has been a recent discussion in blog land about folks who post only ‘my perfect  family did this’, ‘see how perfect my cake looks’ and on and on types of posts.  I was thinking about this, and many of my posts tend to be upbeat, cheery, look at what’s going on types of posts. Which is not unusual since  in ‘real life’ I am pretty much that way.  Originally, when I started my blog it was intended to be a way for our friends and family to keep up with us and what we are doing.  It has now sort of developed a life of its own.  While I still have one intended reader in mind and I write as if I was writing a letter to her my blog seems to have an appeal to folks who don’t know me ‘from Adam’s housecat’. 

So just to balance things out and to take a break from looking at my beautiful garden or any more flower pics I’ll write about what has happened in the last 10 days or so. 

First it was the rubber gasket around the passenger door of the car.  Every 4 months or so it works its way loose and I have to take the car in to have it reglued.  It is just easier for me to drive over and make an appointment in person.  Sometimes they will just handle it on the spot.  So I went, also asking them to drive it or take a look at the suspension.  The car had developed a disturbing way of the back end of the car swaying when we went over a rough patch of road.  They popped it up on the rack and decided that all 4 ‘dampers’ (don’t ask me the English for it) had to be replaced.  And they agreed to finally replace rather than reglue the door gasket.  And I managed to convince them that the AC really didn’t work. (Keep in mind that the majority of Italians believe that any moving air is dangerous and even more so if it is below body temperature. So this issue of the AC has been going on for a while.)    I made an appointment. 

Then the electric hot water pot that I make tea with every morning died.  There was only a little bit of buildup on the coils.  I soaked them in vinegar and cleaned and it still didn’t work.

Then the printer started acting up.  I replaced both cartridges which are not cheap even though I use locally refilled ones.  I cleaned print heads.  I plugged and unplugged.  Nope.  It is over 8 years old so I think we have gotten our money’s worth out of it.

Then Ben’s ears got blocked with ear wax.  The first appointment that we could possibly get was 3 weeks away.  I would have killed him before that.  Our neighbor Ida, helped us make a private appointment.  He also had an appointment this week to privately visit a podiatrist to get his toe nails cut.

So we just bled money all week.  $850 for the car. Ears $60. Nails $40.  I still have not replaced the hot water pot or the printer.  Nerone’s special dog food is $25 a bag. 

And on Saturday I did a load of wash and discovered the less than 6 month old washing machine was leaking from the bottom. 


One more thing breaks and I will cry!   


But how about a sunset picture or two


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Sagra and Festa Posters


The season has started. 


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Flowers from the wedding (part 3)


Part of TWOTY series

The outside of the villa which is impressive any day, absolutely glowed. 

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Do you even notice the petunias that Richard and I were so worried about?


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These shots were taken on Sunday morning.  The sunny day after the rainy Saturday wedding day. 


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Same view the night before with the whoop de doo pink lighting.  Which was really cool.


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How much do you think these young women will want to have a wedding just like this?


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The bride before the wedding coming down from the great hall.


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Remember these doors inside, where the bride and groom sat.  Well these are …

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the other side of them that open out into the back courtyard where the room  is where the cake was being served. 


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This is the huge display of flowers that the guests saw coming down those stairs.  The top of this pot is taller than I am so that gives you an idea of how large this was.


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And this is the man, in his kilt, (Richard) who had to climb up on the ladder to take down the drapes over the door.  I heard it was one of the more exciting moments of the dinner!

When it was all over, here is where some of the flowers ended up


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The World War II cemetery in Foiano

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In my garden


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Outside the door to my house


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Inside the door to my house

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And in my house


If you still have not seen enough or want to see much better pictures go to Bianca’s facebook page

link to facebook

click on the video called

Het avontuur “Een bruiloft in Toscane”

and watch the lovely video.  I appear in it briefly. 



Flowers from the wedding (Part 2)


Part of TWOTY series

Inside the villa, the furniture had been moved out to make room for 100 people to have dinner.

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Every place Bianca could put flowers she had.  When you walked into the room you were immediately struck by how many flowers there were and how very sumptuous it was.  Tasteful, really not over done, but definitely luxurious. 

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This was the table for the bride and groom as it was getting decorated.  Behind the drape is a door that needed to be opened after dinner.  The door is normally not draped, it is painted and very ‘historic villa’ looking.  Not the best backdrop for photos of the happy couple.  Richard and I worried for days over this door trying all different things, because whatever was done needed to be removed quickly.  We ended up balancing a rod on the top of the hinges to hold the grey drape and stapling the brocade to the top of the door splitting it in the center.


See another post for outside the villa.


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