Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maberga Spring Retreat 2014

Which is a fancy way of saying that I'm home alone with nothing scheduled for 3 days and will  therefore not leave the mountain.  I bought all my favorite foods, got a new book, stocked up on magazines, yarn, paint and hair removal wax so, pretty much, I'm set.

Also in preparation, I made myself a little framework to organize my time.  Actually, it was an hour by hour schedule of what I'd be doing for 72 hours. I don't want to waste my time and, if you are not in the practice of relaxing, it's not easy.  Blogging wasn't actually on the schedule for today, but after dinner is "free time" so I'm using it to write. Yes, you should feel honored, and also a little concerned about my control issues...but I digress.

Day 1:

Got a good jump on the day (though I threw the schedule off before even getting out of bed) by waking at 6.15 before the alarm which was on the schedule for 7.  By 6.30 the dogs and I were off on a pre-sunrise walk.  We went

Obviously, by the time I got back to the house and took that photo, the sun had risen.

Next, baking a little banana bread for breakfast and my daily journalling.

After breakfast there was a rather messy and unsuccessful (and very painful) first try at waxing my legs.  Actually, I only got to about a quarter of one leg before I gave up. Um, yeah, no pictures of that.  

By 10.00 the dogs and I were off again, this time to the orto.  I find picking stones out of dirt very relaxing....more so than plucking hairs off my body.

Our rocky orto
The 2x3 meter plot I picked stones out of for 2 hours
I didn't have anything to plant in it, but it's ready now.

While I was picking stones, Ruffino decided his retreat included a mud bath treatment

And Q went, well, wherever Q goes to find shit like this
which of course is some kind of furry bloody mangled animal remains.  Q wasn't carrying it on the shovel.

By noon it was back to the garden for some sun and a little bit of crafty time including this

Which then made me want to do some of this
Which got interrupted by a visit from some of these
which are of course 3 Maberghine women...a few of the last to actually live up here full time...except for me.  We drank water and ate homemade cakes and canestrelli.  Then we all went up to the old village of Maberga. They told me stories of being children up there, stealing figs from neighbors for entertainment, and carrying food to the 3 young Maberga men who hid in the forest when the Germans came during the war. Even this control freak can recognize a lovely diversion of a schedule when it comes.

Half hour of Pilates (Pilates sucks)
Dog baths
Lynn Bath

And here we are enjoying my "free time". This retreat is just so relaxing. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.  No, actually I don't wonder.  I've got it all written down and posted on the fridge.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

You can just call me Signora Secretary

Yep, by unanimous vote at a meeting of the consortium of Maberga land owners, I am official charged with the shittiest job of the board.  My responsibilities:
1.  collect the annual dues from all members
2.  take notes at the meetings.

The latter being completely impossible.

Most people reading this blog have been to meetings, have organized and run meetings, even.  Personally, in a previous life, I had a job in which all I did was go to meetings.  In fact, at that organization, we had a meeting every Monday morning so we could all inform each other of the meetings we were attending that week.  We did meetings well... it could be questioned how much we accomplished, but the meetings were done well. I suspect most of you know what a well run meeting looks and feels like.  Picture that.  Now, picture the exact opposite.  Welcome to the Maberga Consortium.

Yeah, pretty much as a group we hit every meeting-no-no that exists...
--no agenda
--everyone talks at the same time
--no rules of order
--everyone talks at the same time
--no one listens
--everyone talks at the same time
--people come and go
--3 different languages are spoken ... at the same time

For about half  the meeting yesterday I had one guy, we'll call him Bepe speaking in my left ear in Calabrian dialect and another guy, we'll call him Nino speaking in my right ear in Ligurian dialect, neither of which I speak.  During the whole meeting about 5 people were yelling at each other in a mix of the two languages, plus a little Italian.

This is why I might have some trouble taking minutes at these meetings.  The other reason being that I am basically illiterate in Italian.  No one asked me if I could write when they made me secretary.

That was yesterday, today was considerable more enjoyable...and peaceful.

We throw open the door of our locker ...

And got to it...

We planted tomatoes, acorn squash, zucchini, cucumbers, cilantro, parsnips, and a raspberry.

 I'd like to present the Cornwell Orto 2014

 We still have a little ways to go...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Chef

Which is not me.

Have you ever felt like this?
That's what I feel like in the kitchen.  Just hang on, baby.

About 8 years ago I sat down at the table in the front garden and cranked out a children's book.  I hadn't been planning on writing a children's book, it just came out, so I wrote it down.  I've now decided that it's time to illustrate it and print up a couple copies.

It's sort of autobiographical, you know, about life here on the top of the mountain and what I do here.  Today I started painting the page that makes reference to me being a chef. A chef?  What was I thinking? As I was painting myself in a big, white puffy hat I started to feel a bit guilty.  I don't really cook. I mean, I cook, just not all that well. Really, not well at all.  I wonder if, on the day the book came out of me, I had had a go in the kitchen and it went well.  Who knows why I called myself a chef.  Maybe it was a premonition of things to come.  Probably not.

Anyway, while I was painting I had this feeling of guilt and then a feeling of hunger, so I went to the kitchen where I ruined some perfectly good rice.  See....

I won't bother with the recipe except to give you the ingredients:
green onion
wild asparagus (see below)
cream cheese
juice of a blood orange
soy sauce

Yep, it tastes just about how you'd imagine it to.  I don't think there is a cookbook inside me waiting to come out any time soon.

I did however, during a rainy Sunday, make a lovely spring smock to keep myself clean whilst I ruin perfectly good rice.  See...

Actually I made that so I stay clean when I planting the herb garden....which I'll need when I do all that good cooking this summer.  See....
And to wear when I go hunting for wild asparagus to put in all that good food I make.  Pretty proud of finding this haul this morning.  See....
Yeah, ok, I've got to go now.  The smell of the perfectly good ruined rice dish sitting next to the computer is making me a little sick.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Back Home

Depending on who you are you will understand different things from that title.  It could mean "I went back home"  or maybe "I came back home".

Lack of blogging is because I went back home to Wisconsin.  Yep, 11 days of family, friends, food, fun, freezing, and a lot of frosty mugs and fries.  It was confirmed yet again that I have a frickin awesome family whose generosity of time, energy, dinners, gifts, and laughs really just don't stop.  I wonder if it would be like that all the time if I lived near them. Yeah, probably not.

Since I've come back home to Italy, I've been poking around looking at all the things that happened while I was gone.

Like the Oliveto, um, still being there (soon to be renamed the Lane Olive Orchard...more on that in a later post)

And the new hose David bought me for the orto...which didn't get planted unfortunately in my absence
And Q's tongue, which is still where it was when I left
And the newly conquered territory.  Land that had been such a mess for so long that we didn't even know where it was
(you can expect a lot more photos in the future from this's going to be my new outdoor secret garden.  don't tell anyone, ok?)

Some of these popped up while I was away

Spring also sprung and David made colors explode in flower form in the front garden. So, if you'll excuse me now, I'm going to take some of the yarn I bought when I was back home to that garden to knit and enjoy being home.

PS.  Happy St. Patrick's Day
PSS.  I am now writing another blog (in addition to this, not instead of) that is part of my new website (  It's all the crafty, artsy stuff I do, so if you don't care about that, don't bother.  But if you do care, tell all your friends.  Thanks.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Since David and I bought this house, 10 years ago, we've made a few changes.  Since I've been writing this blog now for 8 years, you've seen most of them. We've come to refer to these little changes as colonization.  We've been colonizing our house for a decade.  We landed in the kitchen and have been working our way outward from there...bathroom, new colony....stairwell, new colony...backroom, living room, bedroom, new colony new colony new colony.  Then last year there was the colonization of the patio - whoa.  Today, our expansion continued.

To all of you who have visited and had to sleep in hallways, on couches, on floors, no, I'm sorry to tell you that we haven't added a guestroom.  Come back to Maberga and you'll still get the blow up mattress.  No, today, we expanded beyond the walls of the house.  We colonized our LAND!

I know, I know.  I've had the orto for several years but that's just been one little corner of our acre of land.  Not any more.  Let me introduce the Maberga colony known as...the Oliveto

Umm, yeah, ok.  That's not the oliveto.  That's David carrying two of the new inhabitants of the Oliveto.

Here are the guys choosing just the right spots

And then,  the digging began

 Staking and pruning our new babies...
And a beer.  All before lunch.  Ten new trees, with the 20 or so we already have will make quite a nice Oliveto.

Yes, yes, I do realize that when our new 'babies' mature I'm going to have to pick all those damn olives.  I think the view might be enough of a motivator

In honor of our new oliveto, I knit one....

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love from Maberga

Oh wait...that's a....

snake on our patio.

I went to get a bucket to cover him until David could take him to someone else's garden later, but when I came back with the bucket, yep, he was gone.  In retrospect it was probably a bad idea leaving the front door open.  You might be seeing more pictures of this guy.

Happy Valentine's Day

Ps.  I've added a new gadget to the sidebar that will email you when I do actually post to my blog.  This way you won't have to come back again and again to see this snake again and again until I post again. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

a big day

Last Friday, a big day -- In which the knitting girls got together for the usual...talking, knitting, talking.  Mette's had had a birthday a couple weeks ago and being the fucking thoughtless people we are, both Christine and I had forgotten.  That's nice.  Not really.  So this time we did it up right with a limoncello cake, horns, hats and presents.

 It was quite fun posing for those photos, but, well, looking at them now I find them slightly disturbing.  Oh well, big day.

Last Thursday, a big day -- In which I began my political career.  If elected, you are reading the words of the new secretary of Maberga.  It's a modest start but an important position.  I will, if elected by my fellow Mabergini, have the honor of collecting the annual dues.  That's nice.  Not really.  But here's what happened.  Neighbor Giuseppe called:
L-- Si', yes Giuseppe.  How are you?
G -- LINA!  You wan be secretar?  (that's how giuseppe speaks, he doesn't finish his words.  of course he's speaking italian, sort of)
L -- But Giuseppe, I don't speak italian well enough to be the secretary.
G-- LINA. cours' you speak ital'. we got t' pa' the bu'doz' fo' cleanin' the lan'sli'
L --  Oh, right.  We can't get the money to pay the bulldozer who cleaned the landslide without a president and a secretary.
G -- O'. like I sa'
L -- ok.  I'll do it if you are the president
G -- O'! (that's Giuseppe's way of saying yes)

We're having campaign t-shirts printed "Maberga 2014 - Januzzi/Cornwell"  Big Day. 

Yesterday, a big day -- in which my new and improved Maberga Designs website opened for business.  Now you can buy all the fun things I make (papier mache, knitwear AND jewelry) right from the site.  That's really is.  Please check it out if you can at 
Big Day.