Thursday, October 27, 2011

News and Tidbits

So lest you think I'd given up blogging, I'm back with a hint of red on my cheeks - a bit of embarrassment that I've been too busy to blog, along with a flush of rosso from rushing back across the ocean, then careening down the length of the boot to get back home.  I'm a tad tired.

We were back in the New World to revisit la famiglia and celebrate our wedding anniversary.  We went back to the beginning, so to speak, to my hometown in Ohio where we were wed 25 years ago.  Yes, boys and girls, we feel officially old now that we're talking silver anniversary, but we take consolation in the fact that we were mere babes when we got married. 

We enjoyed a romantic little getaway to Amish country, and had a fabulous organic farm-fresh meal at Malabar Farm, the lovely spot where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Becall were married.  We also spent several days eating nothing but ethnic cuisine.  (In our house, Italian doesn't count as ethnic.)  Turkish, Indian, all went down well.  There are few ethnic eaties around Italia, even fewer down here in the south.

It was a quick trip filled with lots of running around to see family.  Unfortunately, we didn't have the beautiful autumnal weather we enjoyed 25 years ago.  It rained 9 days out of 10, not a good weather ratio, but so goes the luck of the draw in northern Ohio.

In other news...

*Remember the film crew that came to follow us around in May?  We received news on our anniversary that we have an air date!  Tune in to HGTV on November 4 (10:00 pm eastern time) to see Basilicata (and yours truly) in living color.  For the record, we're not too thrilled with the episode title.  A life of leisure?  Magari!  (We wish.)  You'll have to let me know how it turns out.  We can't watch it over here; we have to wait until they send us a DVD.  Here's hoping we don't embarrass ourselves in front of 50 million people!
House Hunters International in Trivigno, Italy

*Have you heard about the Pizza Pilgrims?  They're a pair of young Brits who are crossing Italy from toe to top in a Piaggio Ape', a 3-wheeled utility truck, in search of the perfect pizza.  They're a hoot!  You can follow their journey and their culinary adventures as they chug along at about 35 miles per hour.
Pizza Pilgrims

*Speaking of pizza, I won a cute little pizza charm, thanks to Cibando, a fabulous foodie site (in italiano) that includes my bubbly blogging buddy, Eleanora Baldwin.  I rarely win anything, so it was kind of thrilling to get the honor of a trinket in the shape of Italy's favorite food.  It was here waiting for me when I got home.  Well, it was at the bar, because the postina leaves my mail there for me to collect when I get my morning cappuccino.  Not a bad system, really.

So that's the news from here.  How has your Fall been?

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Just in Time

I knew it would end sooner or later, but the summery autumn we'd been enjoying could have held lasted a little longer.  A few days ago I was in a denim skirt and sleeveless top.  Today I'm sporting a mock turtleneck with a cardigan swaddled around me.  The wind blew in a cold downpour last night, right on schedule according to predictions, which had everyone scrambling in their campagna to finish the grape harvests while they could.  The grapes were already dismal, they wailed; can't lose what little we have to the cold and rain.

Thankfully our new heat source was installed just in time.  Last year we were still in camping mode, surviving with the likes of the caminetto and a space heater.  A few months of day-in and day-out fire-building grew a little wearisome, especially for the girl of the house who had to tend the homefires each evening while her Eagle Scout hubby was teaching in Potenza.  Not that she wasn't grateful for a fireplace that worked well, mind you.  But interrupting my writing thought stream or students to poke the coals and throw on logs every half-hour left a lot to be desired.  An alternative needed to be found.

Mom warming up near the fire

There was much discussion about this - between us and our engineer who advises us on all manner of work and maintenance for a 300-year old stone building, as well as among everyone of our acquaintance who felt the need to weigh in.  Because a side note of village life is that nothing goes unnoticed and so everyone is pretty much up everyone's business (but this also means that there is no crime and they know approximately when you'll need to obtain more firewood based on your last delivery date and the ensuing number of cold days and will then huddle you into the truck to go load up said firewood and help you carry it through the pedestrian lanes to your house.) 

So round about the time that neighbors started asking how much wood we'd need this year- because dry wood must be ordered well in advance- we started looking at options.  A gas-powered heater was gifted to us, its owner saying we could hook it up to the natural gas line or to a bombola tank.  It puts out good heat, he said, and would be a simple solution until we decided on future renovations.  Seemed sensible.  Until the guy who would need to install it started talking about busting a hole into the fireplace flue for the exhaust pipe (an idea I wasn't too keen on), but then the fireplace buco would need to be filled in, but then since there's no draw with the buco closed a fan might be needed to ensure gas exhaust doesn't get trapped between the pipe and the former openening, and then...

Eyes glazed over as our ears strained to catch all of this in heavily-accented Italian that tended toward the dialect variety, which we don't understand.  A few other exhaust pipe options were discussed, which would be even more complicated given the thickness of the walls and proximity of other habitations.  I escaped the overload with a trip to Potenza, where, still enjoying a tank top and cotton capris with brilliant sunshine, I savored a gelato to regain equilibrium, then hauled myself off to Eldo, an electronics store, to explore my options.  I found a heat pump, a quality one, which happened to be on sale for half price.  I ran home and consulted the engineer.  He was so impressed with my find that he called to have it held for me, along with two for himself for his studio tecnico.

The electrician came to install it two days ago.  It was more of an ordeal than I'd imagined - not so easy as just tapping into drywall and mounting the sucker - because trenching in the stone had to be done for the electrical lines as well as the drain tubes from the compressor unit.  They arrived at 8:30 and left at 3:30, but when the dust cleared I beheld my shiny new heater with awe.  And just in time.  It looks like it's going to be put to good use very soon.