Monday, April 27, 2015

Animal Crossing

It's not uncommon here to come upon unsupervised livestock alongside of the road, outside of their fenced area.

Or crossing the road, perhaps headed towards a more verdant pasture when no one is watching.  

Or visiting us from down the hill.  Because as we all know, "The grass is always greener on the other side."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Fruit Fortunate

We are blessed with a variety of fruit trees here on the hill.  Greatest in quantity are the cherry trees.  Most are wild cherry trees, but there are also a few cherry trees intentionally planted.  And as if we didn't already have enough cherry trees, we just bought another one!  The cherry tree above is one of my favorites.  It's a survivor.  The old trunk, which has new growth on it as you can see, is completely hollow almost all the way down to the base.  It sort of looks like a bonsai, don't you think?

We also have lots of apple trees, both wild trees and again intentionally planted.  They have the prettiest red buds.

This pear tree was the first fruit tree to bloom at our house this year.  All the trees and the property surrounding the house had been sorely neglected for many years -- which translates into many, many months of clearing and cleaning and pruning so that going forward it will be easier to manage.  Correction, this could take years!  Amore's father is thankfully one of those people who has retired but isn't content to be idle so he loves to come over and help.  Which I am immensely grateful for since he is an expert on all things farm related.

These are pear blossoms.  I can't wait until they turn into fruit!

And oh my, FIGS!  We have several mature figs trees and Amore's father has also given us lots of new cuttings that we've already planted.  I am frantically searching for ways to make good use of all this fruit before we are inundated -- and jars, I am frantically searching for jars! 

While I am always thrilled by the sight of the first fig, what I find really interesting is the grape vine.  The first buds to arrive are the leaves, which actually look like a little, pink flower bud.

As the bud opens it exposes tiny, green, pink-trimmed, furry leaves.

And those tiny, green, pink-trimmed, furry leaves turn into large, strong, vibrant green leaves for making Greek Dolmas -- just kidding, but seriously dolmas are delicious.  This particular plant will produce table grapes.  As for the other fruit we are expecting, I think I'm going to stick with making jams and the occasional crostata.  As they say, go with what you know!

Thursday, April 02, 2015


We've had a quite a bit of rain for the past couple of years.  Sorry California, but it's been too much rain.  The ground is saturated and when it rains, the water just runs off.  And downhill. This is not a waterfall, this is the ditch that runs along the road to our house.

Thanks to a two hour, very intense downpour, much of the gravel from our road was swept into the side ditch which blocked the concrete pipe beaneath the road that carries the water away.

So we ended up with a small river running down the middle of the road causing some serious erosion.

Meanwhile back at the homestead there was more run-off.

Which resulted in a small landslide!

And a very unhappy dog.
Please excuse the photo shot of dear Pici's backside, but it was quite amusing to watch her wade through this mess, ears pinned back in displeasure.

It's no rainbow, but it's always nice to be able to find a little beauty in the middle of a small disaster.  Keep smiling!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Belated Happy Spring 2015!!!

We're past the first day of Spring and the weather has started getting warmer.  I'm armed and ready for outdoor work with my secret gardening weapon, the dump cart!  We got my little green wagon at our local Brico Center, but I saw they also have them on if anyone is interested.  I highly recommend getting one.  It makes work a little more fun and a lot more easy!

I don't think you can tell from this photo, but these bay trees are over 30 feet tall and there are about 20 of them all together in one group.  Well, actually 17 now.  You can see where a few are missing.

They were too close together and too tall and Amore delighted in having to cut down a few, which will become firewood and also allow for the rest of the group to grow properly.

Amore made the first pass at our new vegetable with the rototiller.  The garden outline looks big in this photo, doesn't it.  Gosh, I hope in reality it's not really that big!

We have two large water tanks for watering the garden that will be filled from a natural spring.

One of the lovely things about moving to a new home is the little discoveries.  You know, things you didn't notice at first but are delighted to discover along the way.  A fine example are these Forget-Me-Nots growing everywhere around the house.  Truly my own little paradise here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Crazy for Close-Ups

Now that I've discovered the close-up function on my camera

I am obsessed.

I can't stop wondering what everything looks like close-up.

A tiny world

of immense beauty.
Look out macro, you're next!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Nikon Coolpix L830

This is my first close-up shot taken with my new Nikon Coolpix L830 camera and I'm impressed.  These are almond blossoms from our newly planted almond tree.  Amore's father was over at our house last Sunday helping with Spring pruning and these branches were too lovely not to be enjoyed inside the house.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Lost Paradise Found

This begins the tale of our move from Umbria, just across the border from where we were, to Tuscany where we discovered our Lost Paradise Found.  An old, stone farmhouse that sits in the middle of 11 acres of trees and tranquility.  Pictured above is our driveway with some olive trees and fruit trees in view.

At the top of the driveway is an old ruin that sits in front of the house.  Because the foundation of this structure remains, permits are not required to rebuild on it!

There are lots of olive trees, fruit trees, nut trees and a large variety of flowers including this gorgeous lavender bush.  And there behind, you can see the house!

There is an unfinished apartment on the ground floor with beautiful lead, colored-glass windows on two sides.  Keep in mind, these photos are the "before" shots.  It may take a few months years for the "after" shots to become available.

In addition to the apartment on the ground floor there are also four separate cellars, two of which you can see above slightly hidden behind the pergola or arbor covered with grape vines.  The stairs on the left side of the photo lead up to the porch and the entrance of the house into the kitchen.  There was literally no kitchen when we bought the house, only a tiny stone sink in the corner -- but that's another post entirely. 

There are  cleared fields in the front of the house as well as in the back.  To the left you can see a solar panel which gives us heated water in the warm months of the year.  In the cold months, we have a large, wood-burning stove in one of the cellars which heats our water and also the radiators in the house.

There is a stall on the property which we would like to fix up and welcome a few chickens, or maybe a couple of dwarf goats, or a miniature donkey!

So here's how it went.  We saw a house we liked when my sister and her husband were visiting us in September 2013.  In October we made an offer.  In November we put down a deposit.  In May 2014 we signed papers.  In September 2014 we moved in after putting in a kitchen.  And that, my friends, is how things are done in Italy.  Piano, piano.  Very slowly!