Sagra and festa posters


The fun continues

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Summer fruit and veg


My tomatoes have not done well this year.  I thought this one was cute. 

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I guess even tomatoes can get strap marks/tan lines and freckles too. Ha ha


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Even though I don’t have a lot, there are enough for a nice hot steak salad using leftover steak from a sagra.

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Got on a melon kick a few days ago.  The front one is a variety of French melon (even though it is grown here in Tuscany).  Very powerful melon smell.  Even in the produce section of the grocery it calls out. 


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And while it smells divine and looks good when cut, the taste does not live up to my expectations.  I have bought  them before; I succumb each year to the smell, thinking ‘oh maybe this year it will be better’.   And each year I am disappointed. 

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First Tuscan kale of the season.  It was good.  Between our house and Menchetti is a large field that has been planted in stages with kale.  I would not be surprised if it is still being harvested in January. 

Sagra and festa posters


Still not slowing down

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Flying Cheese


Ben and I watch a lot of Italian TV.  There are several stations that have American shows in English.  But the ads are Italian.  Some of these ads I just can’t figure out.  The one that has most puzzled me this summer is one for Trivago which is a hotel/flight booking service (kind of like Expedia).  So the ad starts and the announcer says a hotel in the 1950s. It is obviously in Italy and there is a sketchy looking character counting money from a robbery.  The police arrive, take the thief off and leave a policeman there to guard the money.  The policeman falls asleep and you see a little boy peeping through a hole in the wall and looking at the money.  The little boy sneaks in  and steals a handful of money and says ‘I’m going to buy a mountain of desserts and candy.’  Next scene the little boy is being booked.  Fast forward to today and the little boy is an old man, released from jail, cut to a scene of the hotel room looking just the same but with a bit of money stuffed in a crack of a piano.  Now please tell me, how is this supposed to make me want to use this booking service for a room that hasn’t changed in over 50 years and hasn’t been cleaned well enough to find this stash of money????????

One of my favorites is flying cheese. 

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Here you see the packages of cheese flying through the countryside.


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Getting closer…

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At last arriving at a plate near you.


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Nonno Nanni.  Il nonno piu buono che c’e.  Grandfather Nanni. (yes that is the name of the cheese) The best grandfather there is. 

And it turns out that a number of years ago, our neighbors, Lorenzo and Leonardo appeared in a Nonno Nanni ad.  Who knew we lived with stars.


WWII Cemetery


Ben and I were coming back from somewhere north of Arezzo when we passed this World War II Cemetery.  We decided to stop.

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It is very well maintained but I feel it is not as pretty as the one that I have written out before that is near Foiano.

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If the guest book is around we sign it.  I was especially touched by the comments left in the two entries  just above ours,  ‘Martin Ryan buried here’ ‘Uncle Martin buried here. He was 21 (27?) years old and left a wife and son.’  These folks had made a visit from Ireland to honor their relative. 


Odds and Ends Pictures


Sometimes I have pictures I like but just not enough to write much about.

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Horse close up

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Visiting turtles.  They make noise.  Who knew?


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Paper place mats on a roll. 

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Defrosting the freezer


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very nice okra.  Made okra pickles with some of it.


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Nice porcini that Annalisa bought.  We grilled them.


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A well tended orto (garden) 

I think I’m glad I missed it


Guest Post: By Nerone, the Dog

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It has just been so hot!  Sometimes I just have to come in and lay down in front of the fan and cool off.  And you know, sometimes I might fall asleep.  But good grief it is sooooo hot.  So I just don’t know how this happened.


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Those CATS invited a bunch of horses over!  All of a sudden there they were.  Fortunately, I didn’t know any of this was happenin’.  I was inside just takin’ a little break.  She Who Must Be Obeyed took all these pictures and showed’em to me.    


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I’m thinkin’ those girls must be involved.  But I bet somehow those CATS tricked them.  I’ve warned those girls about hangin’ out with those cats.

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Oh gosh, look!  There’s my buddy Roberto hangin’ out with a horse. 


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And there’s Costantino too.  Oh no, the whole place is going to ruin. 

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Somehow they gottem all to line up, just perfect like.  (Try doing that with cats!)

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And then they were off.

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Look at that!  They’re walkin’ right in front of our house!

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Right in front of where I sit!!!!!


She says it probably was a good thing I was inside since I can get a little excited sometimes and maybe bark a little too much.  She also told me that the girls had ridden over that morning from the stable a few miles away.  Everybody had lunch and a rest and then they rode back.  I think I’m glad that I missed it all.  Later, I let those cats know that I knew all about it.  And that I had arranged to be inside so I won’t scare the horses.  That’ll show ‘em!




Thinking of Siena


Lately, I have been thinking about our dog Siena.  She moved to Italy with us, which for a dog who had never traveled that much, she handled the whole process with grace and dignity.  It was in August, six years ago that she died. 

I have been thinking about her because every few days, I cut some fresh flowers and put them in Chinese beer bottles by the entrance to our house.  Just a little cheer for us, for our neighbor and for the mailman.  When we lived in Virginia, I had a large cutting garden that produced something blooming from March until October.  When there was an abundance, Siena had a flower stand that she sold bouquets from.  Not exactly a lemonade stand but along that idea.  

She would sit out front on Saturday mornings and watch me cut and arrange the flowers.  I had a big Styrofoam cooler with holes for plastic bottles cut in the top and a slit to drop money in.  I put the bouquets in the holders, carried in it down to the corner (in front of our neighbor Jane’s house), propped up her ‘Flowers by Siena’ sign and left it.  A few hours later I would go back and pick it up, usually with nothing left but the empty bottles and $20 or $30.  She was very successful.  In late summer she had me pick the hydrangea blooms that were remaining and supervised while I strung them up to dry in the room next to hers.  These we sold in bulk to a lady who had a stand at the farmers’ market.  For .50 a bloom, normally about $45 or $50 worth.  As I said she was very successful. 

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A few of this year’s hydrangeas hanging to dry.

She used some of this money to maintain her fish pond.  It had been her birthday present one year.  She knew that she had to contribute towards the upkeep.  Most every morning she would sit beside it for a few moments.  We lived in the suburbs and there were raccoons.  The fish pond had to have multiple strands of electric wire around it the keep the raccoons out.  (it looked like it was Ft. Knox)  Occasionally, the charge on the wire would be lost and I would be awaken by Siena’s shrieks when she went out and discovered the carnage.  She would be so upset.  There was one time, (honest to God, true story) one of her larger goldfish had been caught by the raccoon, bitten through, but dropped on the ground by the pond and was STILL ALIVE!  So there I am, in my pajamas, with a dog moaning and crying and a wounded gold fish flopping around (all before I had had my diet coke).  I decided that rather than traumatizing the fish any more I would just put it back in the pond and let it at least die in more comfortable surroundings.  Siena is watching.  I put the fish in the pond.  Immediately, about 8 smaller fish came and surrounded it.  They steered the fish down to the shallow end of the pond and nursed it back to health, taking turns I guess, propping it up, until the wound healed.  The wounded fish lived several more months.  All the while Siena was shaking her head up and down giving her regal approval.  

With some of her earnings, each year she would throw herself a birthday party.  It was quite a do.  One year, her friend BK even came up from North Carolina for it. 



And then in the midst of all this thinking about her I saw this online.  She finally made it into a magazine.  Click on this link


She is on page 46, you can flip through to get there or you can click on Pets Abroad  (page 42) in the table of contents and then you only have to flick a page or two to see her.

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Here she is, contemplating her future, right before we moved here.  She was a wonderful dog who touched our lives in so many ways.  



Sagra and Festa Posters, August


Just a few of the things going on now or recently in our neck of the woods

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Dolly Parton look alike????


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I know this seems to be a reoccurring theme this summer.  And it is not going to seem like it, but this is really about Grace’s mother’s 100th birthday.

Wayyyy back in June, when we were starting to celebrate Ben’s birthday, the morning after picking up Maria and Spring, on our way to France, after we loaded up the car, after we loaded Ben in the car, Maria and I tried to fasten the booster car seat for Spring in to one of the back seats of the car.  The seat belt mechanism would not click.  At this point, it is HOT!  I am getting more and more frustrated (I haven’t even written about what it took to find this car booster seat).  It is getting later and later.  The house is all sealed up, locked up, shutters closed, pretty dark inside.  Maria says, ‘it’s like there’s something down there.’   I’m looking at her and thinking ‘what?????’ no one sits back there except Nerone!  Okay, I’ll go find something to dig around in there.  So I open up the two sets of doors, turn on a light or two, fumble around in the dark and wonder what I should bring out.  A screw driver could work but then I remember a silver letter opener that I have.  It was given to my parents for their 25th wedding anniversary.  Sharp, pointy, just the thing.  I take it out to Maria and say ‘Try this.  But be careful.  It was an anniversary gift to my parents.’  Maria takes it and says ‘Oh, Hattie’ my mother’s name.  (Maria lived in the same state as my Mother, knew her and would go to visit her.  Maria also came over to help when I was packing/closing up my parents’ house.) Maria pokes.  The seat  belt clicks.  I look at her.  She looks at me.  I say, ‘you know, sometimes when I can’t get something to work, I just sort of channel my father and then I figure it out.’  And she says, ‘ I think your father’s hand was guiding me.’  We decide that we’ll just take the letter opener with us to France, just in case it happens again.  But it didn’t.

So my Mother’s birthday, was this past week.  She would have been 101. Ben, daughter Annalisa, and I observed it a week early at the lobster festival.  Grace and Gian Carlo were there with Grace’s Momma, and Grace’s son, daughters and grand children.  To the group, I proposed a toast in honor of my Mother.  She always enjoyed lobster.  She enjoyed eating outside.  She would have enjoyed being with family and friends.  What better way to honor her. 

And now finally, we are getting to Grace’s Momma.  She turns 100 on August 28.  But since she has moved back to Italy, her birthday has been celebrated at the first of August to accommodate the grand children and great grand children’s work and school schedules.  Saturday, August 1 we celebrated Josephina and her 100 years.   

She is still very active and alert.  In June, Ben and I met Grace and her Momma in Sinalunga for lunch.  I pushed Ben out of the car and watched as he tootled over to the table and then I went to park the car.  By the time I parked and turned around to check on him, there was 99 year old  Josephina pulling a chair out for Ben and helping him to get seated.  It was a Kodak moment.

Back to celebrations for Grace’s Momma.  Grace and Gian Carlo threw a big party.  There was so much good Italian food, lots of wine, a DJ, karaoke, dancing.  The local priest came and delivered a blessing.  The Mayor of Marciano (where Grace lives) came and presented Josephina with official greetings and best wishes for the day.  There was cake.  There were fireworks.  A great way to celebrate a fine life and a woman smart enough to know that she should live with her daughter.  (But I did not take a single picture)

So I guess what I am rambling around to is that while everyone is still here with us on earth, we will happily celebrate a birthday.  (I mean who doesn’t love a party?)  And then, when you are no longer here, we’ll still celebrate! So cheers to those who we can reach out and hug and cheers to those who we can only hug in our hearts.

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The letter opener on the scarf that Maria knitted for me from yarn that I gave her from my mother’s stash. 

















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