Things started going wrong on my birthday, 17 November. Incidentally many thanks for the various birthday greetings. The weather had been good around my birthday and we decided to get the olive harvest in. We picked a total of some 30 kg of healthy olives. It’s a bit of an awkward quantity, not really enough take to the mill to turn to oil, but a bit too much for simply eating. However we did pickle them all in brine, so shouldn’t have a shortage of eating olives in the house for a bit.
As we got home, I tried as usual to go onto my computer to check my e-mails and maybe post something on the blog, but no can do. I couldn’t go on-line. After trying various things with the help of Marco from next door, changing the modem twice, I only just now managed to get back on-line now. So sorry for any un-answered e-mails etc, and hence the long gap between postings here.
Two days after this mishap our baking oven gave up it’s ghost. I use it a lot, not least for making bread every other day. When we arrived here we bought the cheapest stove we could find and it seemed fine. The oven however can only be switched on with a timer, and the spring inside the timer had given way. I located a shop where I could order a replacement, but at a whopping €50 and a waiting time of 10 days. The whole bl***y thing cost only about €250, how can such a small part cost that much? Just as we are short on funds anyway. Well we had to bite the bullet and the machine is back in operation.
Next thing that went wrong was the chainsaw. I was trying to prune back an overgrown plum tree and the chain jumped off and bent slightly. The costs of that I have not yet assessed. I’m hoping I might be able to fix it myself. Finally today the second of our two mobile phones seems be on it’s last leg and I cannot afford to replace it. I don’t use it much, mostly for time keeping and emergencies, but it was handy for that. And I thought bad things happen in 3s not 4s.
Anyway it hasn’t all been bad. As for the cats mentioned earlier, you may remember me talking about Garfield. Roundabout my birthday he had decided to move in permanently, so we started buying a wee bit of food for him. He never seemed terribly hungry though and, for a stray cat, he looked remarkably well fed. One evening, after Garfield had settled on our bed, another cat poked it’s head through the door, a very skinny, even emaciated, black & white female. She did not look well at all, loosing hair off her hind legs, having a bright red bottom and looking very weak. So we fed her some too. We called her Dot, because of the black dot on her nose. She and Garfield seemed to get on fine with each other too as you can see.
Dot, to begin with, would never stay for very long either. A bite to eat, ½ hour’s rest and off she went again. After a few days of this, she had turned up again in the evening, had something to eat and a cuddle with Susan, and off she went again… only to reappear after 5 minutes with a little grey & white kitten in tow. Kitten, having been born in the wild and not seen many humans, went straight into hiding in my pyjama drawer and wouldn’t come out for 2 days. Now, 2 weeks later, he (or possibly she, we haven’t been able to assess that yet) has become a little braver, but is still shy. We called it Mickey (which could be short for Michael or Michaela after the patron saint of Ponzano Superiore). He stays 24/7 in the house now, Mummy Dot herself sees to it. It’s far too dangerous out there for little kittens.
Garfield in the meantime has been evicted. I saw how the lady next door specially cooked liver for him, shooing away other cats, so he clearly has understood the principal of survival of the fittest, the fittest being the cat that charms humans into feeding him well. He is doing well for himself, and I didn’t think it was a good idea to keep an intact tom cat with an intact female in our house, unless we wanted to breed them. So now we have been chosen to become cat owners. I actually wanted a dog really.
Other than that winter has arrived earlier than last year. The end of November, the beginning of December have been atrocious. Snow in the mountains, rain, hail, gale force winds and cold temperatures for days on end. We’ve been sitting around the fireplace, baking Christmas biscuits and trying to coax the kitten into trusting us. In the breaks of the weather I’ve pruned over half of the trees on our land in Arcola, planted garlic and did a general tidy up. Yesterday and today were fine and sunny again. We’ve only done one more walk for the guide (Aulla – Sarzana) because the weather didn’t allow for much more.