Saturday, February 27, 2010

Special Note - Some sad news

I Went down to feed and let the Three Degrees out this morning. Came up to the gate and noticed it was open. I went through and was surprised not to hear some gentle early morning clucking that I have been accustomed to. I noticed there were quite a few feathers blowing about. I looked into the coop and saw that the door at the back was open and there were no chickens there. I know I latched it after collecting the eggs the day before. I looked all around the garden and there was no sign of them.
I looked more closely at the feathers and there were a few with a bit of blood on.
But how could an animal get in?
The wind last night was pretty fierce and we knew from experience that if you pushed the door at the back, the bolt easily fell down and unlocked it. Because the floor is made of mesh, the coop always gets breeze coming in and with gusts of wind it must have moved the door enough to let the bolt drop.
I know I closed the gate last night after I'd locked them in. I closed it this morning and then gently pushed it a few times. Sure enough the movement was enough to dislodge the catch I have made for it. Back to the drawing board on that one.
La D and I looked all round the house and found a few blood stains, but no real sign of what happened to the poor chickens, and of course we hadn't heard a thing, probably because of the wind noise. We can only assume that it was a fox or foxes and we think they came in over the metal fence at the front.
Bertie was sniffing around for ages. So he could sense something different.
We were very subdued this morning as we cleared the coop and the pen. Bertie came in with ans was looking around for ages. I really believe he will miss them.
We will be going to get another set of Three Degrees on Monday.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We have a new dog

For La D's birthday, the DiL and the MiL gave her a new dog. It's very sweet. It also does not get wet, smell, poo, eat food or need exercise. It's absolutely brilliant. The only drawback that I can see at the moment, is that you wouldn't really want to cuddle it. It's a bit cold in that respect.

He's called Ozzie, after our real Springer who is living a life of luxury and Riley (if you can put these two things together) in Sussex.

Your good health

Yes it was that time again. I had my six monthly visit to the anti-diabetico clinic last Friday. My pee and blood tests and annual ECG check-up looked OK and I was fairly confident of a ‘good’ visit to the dottoressa.

I was right. She was very pleased with all my results and I was only with her for a few minutes. Phew. I am not a great fan of hospital visits, particularly mine, but if they all like that then it will be OK. Obviously it’s really down to me. La D concurs!

Mrs Malaprop plus!

I don’t know really know what to call some of the phrases that La D utters, but whatever it is, it can be remarkably funny.

The other night there was something on Italian TV about “idioms”. I hadn’t quite followed what was being said and asked La D what it was.

She said,

’It’s like those silly knock, knock jokes. You know, hmmmm like ‘Knock, knock. Who’s there? Nicholas. Nicholas who? Nicholas girls shouldn’t climb trees. Or Knock, knock. Who’s there? Isobel. Isobel who? Is a girl necessary on a stick!’ I just looked at La D and nodded sagely.

Do you understand the second one? I don’t. I haven’t got a clue.

A birthday treat

The weather has been atrocious over the last couple of months. The only really good dry and sunny day we have had recently was the day of La D’s birthday. I did ask several times if she really wanted to go out and start pruning the olives. She was adamant.

‘The weather is good L’uomo chi fa. Let’s to arms (or pruning implements anyway) and get on with it.’

We started in the morning, made good headway and stopped for lunch. As it was a special day, we had a birthday snifter at lunchtime to celebrate the day.

‘Right,’ La D suddenly said, ‘Onwards and upwards.’ She managed to get her outdoor shoes again and we started to wander back down the olive grove.

‘Darling,’ I said, ‘Are you going to leave your wine glass here?’

‘No. I’ll just take it down with me and finish it off gradually.’

‘OK darling.’

So on we went pruning away. La D suddenly announced she was going to go into one of the bigger trees to get rid of the suckers growing there. I continued to prune the next tree along.

After a little while, I heard a short, sharp screech and a small thump. La D had fallen out of the tree and banged her leg on one of the lower branches, giving her a nasty bruise.

‘Are you OK La D?’ I said as I hurried over to her sitting on the grass under the olive.

‘Yes, yes. Don’t fuss man. I’m fine. I’m fine. Can you give me a hand up?’

‘You’re not gong to go up again are you? I said.

‘Of course. A little scratch like that won’t stop me.’

With that she launched herself up the tree again and started snipping away at the unwanted foliage. I returned to my tree. A few seconds later there was another screech and another thump, plus a lot of expletives.

I turned and saw La D once again on the grass, but this time holding her arm.

‘Right,’ I said, attempting to be authoritative, ‘No more climbing trees for you la D.’

‘Oh OK darling. Help me up will you? My arm is really sore.’

I’m sure it is. Now why don’t you just stick to pruning at ground level?’

‘OK. But you know the amazing thing L’uomo chi fa?’ she said.

‘No. What?’ I asked, nervously.

She held up her wine glass, ‘I’ve fallen out of the tree twice and haven’t broken the glass! Isn’t that incredible?’ Doh.

La D says that I have to point out my use of considerable literary licence here, mainly in reference to wine and glasses!

PS He he.

A passenger in a taxi tapped the driver on the shoulder because he wanted to ask him a question. The driver screamed, lost control of the cab, nearly hit a bus, drove up over the curb and stopped just inches from a large plate glass window.

For a few moments everything was silent in the cab, then the driver said, "Please, don't ever do that again. You scared the daylights out of me!"

The passenger, who was also frightened, apologized and said he didn't realize that just a tap on the shoulder could frighten him so much, to which the driver replied, "I'm sorry, it's really not your fault at all."

"Today is my first day driving a cab. I have been driving a hearse for the last 25 years."

Ciao, mantenere la fede

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Idyllic Moment

Have you ever had a moment, just a split second, when you have this incredibly strong sense that everything in you and around you is in perfect equilibrium? In other words everything is right in your world. There is probably a scientific or medical word or phrase for it. It’s a wonderful feeling.
I had one of those last week.

La D and I discussed whether we needed yet another orto (we have four already).. After a very brief but quite robust discussion – my arm’s fine now thank you, I had the plaster off two weeks ago – it was decided that we really did need another one.
We knew were we wanted it ages ago but the weather has not been on our side for some time until last week. We had a run of dry days and the ground was not too frosty.
I got my strings out – these are lines for marking out, not skimpy underwear you naughty reader – and marked out the orto.
Although it was chilly I had soon stripped down to just a shirt (I did have lower garments on too of course) and perspiration beaded my brow.
The Three Degrees wandered over and started to scratch around in the freshly turned soil looking for things to eat. Whenever I came across a nice juicy worm I plopped it down in front of one them who greedily gobbled it up. They love worms.
Bertie also sauntered across and lay on the turned over earth. It made quite a sight his white coat contrasting beautifully with the freshly tilled brown soil.

I took a little time to cogitate. So there we were, L’uomo chi fa, leaning on the fork with a huge inner smile, the chickens happily scratching around and softly clucking to themselves, big Bert just chilling, lying out full stretch with his great head resting on his front paws and the bright sun in a beautiful clear blue sky. Idyllic.
I thought to myself, “This is one of those moments.” Just as that thought came into my head, it was snatched away.
One of the chickens had obviously scratched a little to close to Bert and he leapt up and pounced on it. All the hens flapped their wings and scattered with Bertie gallomping after them and me shouting obscenities at him to leave the hens alone.
So, as I said, these moments are only fleeting, but wonderful when they do happen.
I suppose I should be thankful that Bert didn’t pounce a second before he did.



A little humour

When Madonna moved to England, she said she wanted to feel English.
She is now a single mother with three children from different fathers. Job done.

Regarding MPs expenses.
All MPs should be entitled to a fair hearing, then they should all be shot.

Ciao, mantenere la fede

Thursday, February 4, 2010


*Stop Press Announcement*
Hi there this is La Duchessa speaking... L'uomo Chi Fa has kindly allowed me to hijack his blog to make an announcement about the new website for my writing community, Writers Abroad. We launched the site on February 1st and have had over 150 visits so far. I shan't say any more - he's only allowed me five lines - but follow the link below to find out more...

Visit Writers Abroad

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Digging For Victory? No, Moles

At the beginning of last year we put up a fence for two reasons.

The first was that as we had acquired the mutt aka Bertie, we wanted to give him a good large space to run about in but also needed to contain him.

The other reason was to keep out the pigs which have really gored up the land, especially under the olive trees.

This is where we ended the fence, after the olive trees, well apart from one little tiddly tree.

So far this seems to have worked. Bertie will often sit at the end of the fence and bark at the pigs he can hear chomping on something further down the garden. We have not had a pig invasion since (not yet, anyway).

Honestly the garden round the trees was devastated. The pigs are very destructive.

So, we have the dog in and the pigs out. The ground is saved. Not quite. Let us now bring in a third party to this, namely Maurizio the Mole or Talpa in Italian.

Maurizio himself is not too bad. Just a few mole heaves around the place. No, the real problem is Bertie.

I’ve lost count of the number of heaves he has stuck his nose into and started to dig, following the scent. Being a fairly large dog, the holes he digs are fairly large too. I suppose that’s how it is.

The top garden is looking more lunar-like than ever, with all these craters everywhere, and Bertie has a constant soil covered nose.


However the cold weather has helped a little as the ground is currently so hard that he hasn’t dug up much recently.

Utopia or Myopia?

One of the problems of becoming short or long sighted is having glasses. The main problem here is you can mislay them – this is the word La D uses when she can’t find them. When I can’t find mine, they are lost. Slightly different perspective.

However there are other problems with them. Let’s face it, a pair of glasses in the wrong hands can almost be a WMD. Well ,close.

Take the other day. La D has one of those strings that you attach to the arms of glasses that allow you to hang them round your neck when you are not wearing them, but allow them to be close to hand when they are needed. La D was not wearing her glasses at the time but suddenly needed them to read something very important. She grabbed them and the string bit got twisted. Trying to untwist the string she actually went the wrong way again and entangled it even more. Once again trying to correct the situation, she went the wrong way. By this time her neck was becoming constricted and her face and the air was turning blue.

‘Help me L’uomo chi fa. Don’t just sit there with that inane smile on your face!’ she croaked at me.

With a little patience I got them untangled.

‘Thank you,’ she said to me, grudgingly. She then proceeded to stick one of the arms up her nose when she tried to put them on. Having composed herself once more, she tried again to put the spectacles on . One of the arms went into her right eye.

At this I just had to leave the room. Some seconds later I heard La D say’, ‘It’s OK you can come back in now. My glasses are properly on and secured.


It’s Quiz Time

What is the world’s largest mammal?

I expect your answer would be a …. Whale. Well done. Correct.

What do you think La D’s answer was?

A Mammoth.


Have had a few last couple of days. Slight but still a little unnerving

Before I go ……..

Just remember. Try not to find your self in a queue at the Post Office behind Satan. You will discover that the Devil takes many forms!

This is from a book of unpublished letters sent to the Daily Telegraph. My eldest son sent it to us for a Christmas present. There are some real classics in it that I will share with you over the coming weeks.

Ciao, mantenere la fede