Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I think they'd be happy

So the other day I was bending down to pick up a rug and my back cracked. I just doubled over on the floor, legs paralyzed in that excruciating pain that comes from the back.  Luckily I was in the bathroom, where I could crawl (using my arms....thank you pilates) to the basket on the shelves where we keep the medicine.  Some of you may recall that this happened to me once before so I knew that I had some kind tube of miracle cream that would ease the pain.  Sure enough, I found an entire basket full of tubes of miracle creams - all with medicinal (aka: not helpful) names and none with descriptions of what they are for.  Not knowing which one relieves back pain, I chose the tube that looked most familiar to me and hoped that I wasn't rubbing athlete's foot cream on my back.  Then spent the rest of what should have been a very productive and enjoyable Sunday shuffling from chair to chair with my book, trying to be comfortable.

And thinking a lot about my grandmas. You know, feeling old leads to thoughts of grandmas.

I had these two really amazing grandmas.   Both of them had a knack for taking nothing and making  something - usually, something beautiful.  I love that.  Maybe all grandmas are that way, maybe not.  Mine were.  Let me give some examples.

Grandma Moersch took her daughters' childhood dresses and made quilts.  For my 9th birthday she made me some down pillows using the mattress ticking and feathers from her parents' old mattress.  She used to also take a cow and make a lot of milk.

Grandma Serpe used to collect the empty flour sacks from her son-in-law's bakery to make sheets. My dad tells me they were the most uncomfortable things ever, but I still think it's totally cool. She also used to take half her back yard and make enough food to, when need be, feed a family of 7 for a year.

Skip forward to today...still shuffling, but mobile enough to make it to the orto to harvest these

Tomatoes for sugo batch 4.

And then, looking for things I can do standing up, I started cutting these squares for my next patchwork blanket.

Thanks for showing me the way, Grandmas.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tetris, Tons, and Tomatoes

Ever stacked olive wood?  Yeah, me neither.

I have, however, stacked a lot of wood since moving to Italy.  Not to brag or anything, but I'm pretty good at it.  It's like doing a puzzle.  Or rock climbing. Actually it's a lot like a life-sized, heavy, dirty game of tetris.

Which would explain my advanced skill level - I went through a tetris phase. I'm going to toss out a little theory here that says just about anyone who was in middle school in 80s would be a good wood stacker.

Wait, I'm a little off topic here, we were talking about olive wood, stacking OLIVE wood.

Maybe some of you have stacked Elm wood

or  maybe a bit of Oak wood

This would make you amateur wood stackers.  Babies.  Half-stackers. tee-ball stackers. Wanna enter the wood stacking big leagues?  Cut one of these gnarly bad boys into stove-sized pieces and start stacking

All I can say is.....who's your mamma?  I am.  I am your wood stacking mamma.

Ok, it's not so pretty but  it is 10 quintale (half ton) of olive wood in 4' x 3' x 6' stack.

David thinks that should keep us warm for about a week and a half.  So he picked up a little backup

Those would be small pieces of Brier wood from our pal Mimmo who has a business treating and cutting brier wood into pipe sized pieces to sell to people who make pipes - pipes for smoking, not tubes. I bet you never thought about where pipe makers get their wood, did ya?  Well, they get it from Mimmo.  And we get his left-over bits, in easy to stack bags.

Speaking of stacking, here's the stack of veggies from today's harvest.

As I type David is making our 3rd, THIRD, batch of sugo for jarring.

Umm, that doesn't look like much, it was just one batch.  Anyway...

Winter.  Bring it on...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


So I just went to my own blog to have a look at what I was doing on this day in years past when I saw it.  I saw the number 19 next to the year 2014.  Is that possible that  I've only written 19 posts in the entire year 2014?  Is it February?  Damn, it's August.  That means I've only written, on average, 2.375 posts per month.  That means, on average, I've only written .6333333 posts per week. That means, on average,  I haven't written shit this year.

How can that be? Well, let's look at what I used to write about when I used to write

1. water.  I used to write about the lack of water, of tubes being cut and disconnected, of neighbors fighting over a limited supply.  Now, my water comes from the city into my house and I pay for it, just like most people in developed countries. Not many stories in that.
2. heat.  It used to be hard to come by, now it's not.  I've got 3 stoves keeping the 900 square feet  of my house toasty warm.  This of course wouldn't be a topic for blogging right now anyway since, as I mentioned earlier, it's August now not February.
3. house construction.  Yep.  That topic is closed now too.  Pretty much everything is done.  We have a stairwell connecting the two floors of the house, the upstairs is no longer threatening to cave into the down stairs, we have a bedroom in which bugs don't fall on our faces at night when we sleep, and we have a bathroom WITH a septic tank connection.  What else do we need?

Well, obviously, for the sake of the blog, we need a new project.

I got my eye on this...

Friends, isn't it beautiful?

Can't you see the potential? Just imagine the blog posts that will come out of the reconstruction of that!   It doesn't even have electricity!  Or a roof.  And it's huge.  We're talking stories for another decade!

 In a rough estimate, it should cost about a half a mil (euro, not dollars) to buy and fix up.  

500,000 euro, that's nothing. 

Here's what we do, my plan is very simple.  Everyone of you reading this blog right now should go to my website (www.mabergadesigns.com) and buy something -- a bracelet, a pair of earrings, a hat, whatever.  And then all 12 of you should tell 10,000 of your closest friends and family members to do the same.  That's it. Money raised, reconstruction commences and the stories start flowing.  120,012 pairs of earrings for all the blog fodder imaginable for YEARS to come.

What d'ya say?  

PS. while you're at my website, check out the photos of Morris, and Morris' Brother, and Morris' Other Brother in the maberga designs blog.

Friday, August 01, 2014

From the ...




Monday, July 28, 2014

On the road, again

Yeah, I've probably used that title before for a post.  I'm too lazy to go back and check.  And given that we live on the road that we do, this probably won't be the last time you see that title.

The Maberga Consortium's new administration is getting right down to business.  Yep, an italian elected body that is delivering on its campaign promises.

Um, ok.  There were no campaign promises, there was no campaign.  The few of us who reluctantly volunteered to "hold office" in the rag-tag group of land owners knows as the Maberga Consortium have one charge and one charge only.

Fix the fucking road.

So the last couple of weekends a few of us did just that....we happen to be the same "volunteers" who hold office.

Here we are, rather proud of ourselves after a job well done:

But let's not jump ahead.

Here was the project:

Just a small pot hole about 1 meter in diameter and approximately a foot deep, located on the edge of the road, above a crumbling support wall.

Actually this was the second bit of road done by this group.  I didn't join in the neighborly fun for the first project because a) it was a much bigger job and b) I'm basically useless in these kind of projects.  For example, I can't really do this:

Well, I can but no one wants me to because I just slow them down.  I'm also not allowed to do this:

or this:

The only other woman there helping is probably very capable of doing all those things that the able-bodied men did, but instead she joined me in doing this:

That woman happens to be our president.  So she also had the fun job of being in charge.  Look at her in action:

Oh, I forgot to say that we did a little of this BEFORE we started working....

which may have been a mistake...

Anyway, it's all done now:

And our cars are grateful to everyone who helped:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


One of my favorite rituals of the summer season is the annual hanging of the beads. That was a sarcastic comment.  There's very little at all nice about the Italian version of a screen door.

a.  they come in one size fits all.  This means that David and I spent an hour today snipping off the end of each individual string of beads, sliding the extra beads off, and re-knotting it so that we didn't just spend 30euro for a set of plain strings.
b. they don't really keep the bugs out which is in fact their intended purpose.
c. they give the house a definite 70's feel....not in a good way....if there is a good 70s feel.

On the upside, because I am despite my overflowing font of sarcasm, a very optimistic person:
a.  all those extra beads will make some lovely jewelry.  I really love accessorizing to match my house.

b. they keep more bugs out than NOT having them and they are slightly healthier than the chemical spray bomb we've been setting off every morning for the past week.  Ohhh, the carnage.
c. yeah....hard to turn the 70s thing into something more than what it is.

Summer in my corner of the world also means swimming in the sea. Ahhhhhh.....so lovely, cool dips in the brilliant blue Mediterranean Sea.  Or, it would be lovely if it were brilliant blue and I were dipping in it, which it isn't and I'm not. It been really stormy and rainy - happy orto, angry sea.

  However, in another corner of the world that I'm fairly familiar with summer means cool (really cool) dips in the Lake....which I have done already this summer.  See

yeah, so that's obviously not me but rather my sister and brother-in-law...it's hard to take a photo of yourself when you are in the water.  The camera gets wet.  Trust me, I was there and in the water.  

 Yes, I was just back in Wisconsin a couple months ago (or weeks, if you count like my dad).  Why the extra trip?  Weeeeelllll, let me tell you.  

Summer also means that this chic has a birthday.  

This year was a big one.  You can see that because she's holding up the number on her fingers.  It's hard to buy gifts for a girl who has everything so, in addition to that nice Coors light that her husband gave her for her birthday, my parents decided to give her her sister. They flew me home just to surprise her.   How cool was that?  My sister and I thought it was pretty cool.  My mom and I also gave Laurie some limericks we wrote ourselves.  Most of them can't be published on my G-rated blog.  That's a fuckin' shame because several were very funny.  Anyway......

that's about enough for right now because summer also means renting bikes with 4 wheels and riding them along the sea before stopping for dinner on the beach....which is what I'm off to do right now. 

PS.  my parents asked me to post this really flattering photo of them so you all can see what special people they are


Friday, July 11, 2014

Sorry I haven't been blogging....

I've been watching my cucumbers grow.

Ummmm. there's been other stuff too, like my sister's 50th birthday......ok , photos of both to come.