Tall roses…

Spring has reached the windows on the second storey of the house!

This is what I see when I look out of our bathroom and bedroom windows!

The perfume is incredible.


Mud free!

In the future, when we venture out to visit the chooks during the darker wetter months, our feet will be mud free…

We have built a path between the shed/fienile and the chicken coop.

The path is made of old bricks that have come from various sources including the demolition of 2 ‘modern’ internal walls that we removed about 6 years ago.

Ever since we demolished these walls, we’ve been moving the bricks around the property.  The pile always seemed to be in the wrong place so we’d move them somewhere else, only to realise shortly after that we needed to do something in that space and that we needed to move them again!

The path isn’t totally finished yet but it will be within a few days.  We are already 2 very happy people with clean feet and no further heavy lifting of bricks to be done.

Happy happy happy

After 3 weeks of rainy, cloudy weather, few words are necessary to explain how happy my garden is making me right now…

Memories of boxes

Stu celebrated a milestone birthday this week and his memories of some of the special birthdays he had during his childhood prompted a few of my own birthday memories…

My memory isn’t so good that I remember exactly what ages I was on these birthdays but I can distinctly remember that I was young.  I was a child.  I was safely enclosed in a warm loving home with my parents and my 2 sisters.

I remember cold weather in May.

I remember a cold bedroom.

I remember windows that ran wet with constant condensation; thick bubbles that gathered weight then wriggled down the glass to sit on the window sill.

I remember Mum sending me into the bedroom to mop up the lake of water that pooled on the wooden window sill.

I remember my sisters and I laying under warm blankets and discussing how we might ever have the strength to creep out from our cocoons and brave the cold air in the house to get ready for school.

I remember how an urgent screech from our mother made the decision for us and how we’d run from bed to cupboard to gather our school uniforms, then from bedroom to living room to get dressed.

It was supposed to be warmer there.

But I remember a living room which promised warmth but never delivered.  The oil heater seemed to take forever to emit anything that remotely resembled heat and we’d stand in front of it with our arms wrapped around us as if this might keep our trembling nightie-clad bodies warm in the meantime.

I remember 3 birthdays in particular.

One year, I received a music box.  It was small, white or cream in colour and had a gold clasp.  I remember winding the little key at the back of the box to summon the music, then opening the lid to peer inside.  My eyes widen even now as I remember the first time I saw that tiny perfect ballerina as she slowly turned around in her glorious pink tulle.

Another year, I received a beauty case.  I seem to remember that the case was pale pink but it may well have been another colour because all I really remember is the incredibly luxurious pink silk lining on the inside.  There were compartments and pockets everywhere and I remember feeling suddenly grown up and elegant as I considered where I might put the lotions and potions and beauty tools that any decent 10 year old keeps.

Another year, I received a sewing box.  It was yellow, floral and happy.  It was a beautiful and feminine thing.  It went to school with me; it went to sewing lessons with me.  It made me feel capable; it promised great things.  It would also witness my utter lack of sewing prowess.  I quickly learned to use it as a casket, a place to bury things.  In it I would hide pieces of material that I’d cut wrongly, hems that I’d puckered and endless tangles of threads that I’d matted.

I still have the sewing box.

It contains things that have nothing to do with sewing.

Now, it is not lost on me that my 3 most memorable childhood birthdays have involved boxes.  While I don’t believe I have a box fetish, it may be fair to say that if I was to suffer from one at any point in the future, I could blame it on my parents…


3 Roosters?

So Horris the Rooster has developed a problem…

Over the last week, he has been attacking me.  Hackles up.  Jumping at me.  Stabbing me with his spurs and beak.  It’s been quite confronting behaviour from our little bantam rooster who has been so docile to date.

Having had a peaceful and respectful relationship with him for a couple of years now, I decided that the problem had to be my NEW garden shoes.  So one morning I decided to test my theory.  I put my OLD garden shoes on and headed out to the coop.  Horris left me alone.

The next day, Stu decided to extend the experiment.  He took my NEW garden shoes out to the coop and put them on the ground inside the coop.  Horris reacted.  Hackles up.  Jumping at them.  Stabbing them with his spurs and beak.

So the problem WAS my NEW shoes!

The next day, I went out (in my OLD shoes).  Horris reacted.  Hackles up. Jumping at me.  Stabbing me with his spurs and beak.

So the problem WASN’T my NEW shoes!

It was time to resort to chicken discussion forums on the internet.

I read that Horris may consider me to be a threat to his hens or a competing rooster (!?).  I’m not sure if this is a compliment.

I also read that, since he never attacks Stu, he may consider Stu to be the dominant rooster (!?).  Stu thinks this is a compliment.

Admittedly, I am more ‘hands-on’ with the hens than Stu is.  I pat them, pick them up, etc.  So it is quite possible that Horris worries about me touching them.

The recommended solution to an aggressive rooster is to “re-home or roast”!

Since we are incapable of killing and eating anything that we’ve come to know (and since Horris is such a midget and incapable of drawing blood), we’ve decided to ‘wait and see’ just in case the problem is actually Spring and his territory/breeding hormones have kicked in!


A puzzle solved

When we were doing our major internal renovation work in 25 November 2013, I posted about a strange spiritual experience that we’d had.

At the time, I assumed the presence of a ghost in our house.

Well, a year after this event, we learned who this ‘presence’ might be…and it’s only now that I’ve been able to write about it…

We share a common wall with our neighbour’s house. Our neighbour and his wife no longer live in the valley but spend every day out here in Spring and Summer.

In December 2014, our neighbour, his wife and sons walked up the valley to share a slice of pannettone and a glass of moscato with us.

It was a particularly cold afternoon so we wasted no time in welcoming them into our home and ushering them into our dining room.  Stu lit the fire and soon the little room was glowing warm.

As the conversation turned to our renovations, we casually mentioned the ‘presence’ that we’d felt the previous year.

Immediately, our neighbour’s wife became emotional and announced with utter certainty that “Bertina era qui” (“Bertina was here”)! She asked us to wait while she rushed to their summer house and when she returned her eyes were red and her cheeks wet.

Her trembling hands held a photo of an elderly lady and a remembrance card as if they might crumble at any moment.

Then she sat down and told us about Bertina. Bertina was a deeply loving woman who used to live in our house with her husband. They had no children and used to treat our neighbours’ children as their own. Our neighbours’ son remembers Bertina reading stories to him and giving him special treats to eat. The entire family remembers Bertina’s smile. She smiled constantly and generously. She smiled through a sour husband and a hard life. She was still smiling when she died at the age of 102.

Having shared our neighbours’ precious memories and felt an even stronger presence of the woman they treasured, our dining room that day seemed a little warmer.

The words on her rememberance card will stay with us always:

“Il mio dolce sorriso rimanga per sempre nei vostri cuori”

(“My sweet smile remains always in your hearts”)


After an extended break from all things normal, we are back on deck and rearing to go with all things garden and renovation!

My last post was in late October 2017. Since then, we’ve survived a trip to Australia (planned), returned to Italy for 6 weeks to ‘baby’ our house through a particularly brutal winter and another trip to Australia (unplanned).

Our winter experience was quite extreme.  First, we had a deep snowfall in December which quickly turned to pack ice and forced us to walk in and out of our valley.  When we finally built some confidence to attempt our driveway, our car slid backwards 20 metres on the ice!  I have truly never been so frightened in my entire life…and am still not sure how our car didn’t end up in the creek!  Second, Russia cruelly sent us some icy weather from Siberia and temperatures plummeted to minus 10-14!  This happened while we were in Australia (the second time) and we spent several anxious nights biting fingernails while we worried about our pipes freezing.  Luckily we have some very very special Italian friends who selflessly braved the conditions to put our heating on for us..and thus save our pipes from freezing.

Now, the first blossoms of spring are budding and we are carefully watching the almond and plum trees which are always the first to burst out.  The jonquils and hyacinths are already blooming and the tulips are close.  The birds are flitting and singing as they urgently start a cycle of new life.

Nature is tempting us outside to revel in new life…