If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

31 May 2006

DANGER: gloppy, overly romanticized prose ahead!!!

Renaissance Artist and I spent a good chunk of the evening laughing hysterically about the fact that, if I were Frances Mayes, yesterday afternoon's chores-of-the-day would have been woven and fluffed into an entire chapter in a book. It would go into painstaking detail, something like this:

"After waiting more than a year for our town's local blacksmith - a very talented, but overworked and therefore unreliable man - to build our pergola, it was finally installed last week. And I do wish I could welcome you here to see it, for it will be the most perfectly quaint location for summer evening festivities, with hanging lanterns glistening from the walls and on the table -- fresh vegetables from the garden served simply and using the most time honored Tuscan traditions ..." ...(blah, blah, four pages later)... "this evening, we enjoyed ourselves immensely as we worked together effectively "thatching in" the roof of the pergola. In an homage to the signature quality craftsmanship of the Etruscans, we tied the bamboo mat together deliberately, weaving it through the spines of the pergola by hand, as the Tuscan sun blazed its farewell to the day across the western sky and the wind tousled our hair and kissed our cheeks. ... " (blah, blah, four pages later) ... "for an apertivo while we were working, we sipped a local Chianti ... (blah, blah, funny story inserted here, then six pages later) ... "exhausted but proud of our work, at 10pm we ducked into the glowing warmth of the farmhouse kitchen, where a traditional Tuscan meal of red wine risotto and zucchine awaited us... " (add recipes here).

(okay, I can't put you through any more of THAT!)

So cutting through all the romantic crap, here's the gist of it: Yup. We got a new pergola. Eventually, plants are supposed to cover it; but unless I want to invest thousands of dollars in old-growth wisteria plants, that means about 3 years without a roof while waiting for ivy or grapevine to "do its thing". And, newsflash: I'm simply not that patient. So, we bought three gargantuan rolls of "cannuccia" (bamboo matting) in the afternoon, with the predictable comedy of errors that occur when wedging 7' long rolls of bamboo into a tiny clown-size farm car, with the hatchback flailing behind you on the climb up the hill. About 2 hours before sunset, we decided - despite the cracking wind and the cold - to get these up tonight, while I still had R.A. here to help me.

It was the THIRTIETH OF MAY and I swear, by the time we finished, our hands were completely frostbitten and immobile. The rolls weren't heavy but they were awkward and there were multiple funny moments where we dropped them from the roof onto the other's head, it rolled off, etc. We were anything but elegant, but it had to be done.

We WERE drinking red wine, of course, to ward off the cold and wind if nothing else, and we were racing against the clock since we were losing daylight FAST. For about 19 seconds, the sky did look like it had puffs of pink cotton candy, but when I stopped to look at it, the wire poked a hole in my thumb. Damn; that's what you get for being distracted!

At the end of the project, with the bare-minimum tied down so it wouldn't fly off in the middle of the night, we DID haul ourselves up the stairs to the farm kitchen, where - because there's no Dominos to deliver, R.A. showed off his useful Renaissance-manness in the kitchen, whipping up an stupidly simple but amazingly delicious red wine risotto. I've got no recipe, cuz it went by in a blur, something like this:

big pan.

serve at 1030, with the less-than-two-bucks-a-liter bottle of local Chianti goodness. Keep eyes open long enough to congratulate ourselves on the rockin' roofing job and laugh about what Frances would have over-romanticized in her writing about all of this. I swear, her neighbor's baby could throw up on her and she'd find a way to convince you that you simply MUST come and experience it - this REAL Italian life - for yourself. (And she is, of course, laughing all the way to the bank while I wonder if I can make rent next month. The irony is not lost on me.)

Truth? I love you all out there in blogland waaaaay too much to blow smoke up your skirt about the sex appeal of household chores in the waning light and freezing cold. But the risotto rocked, and the laughter was even better - even at someone's expense.

And this morning, no matter WHO tells the story, the pergola does look pretty damn good.


Blogger Tina said...

Oh my gosh. You have hit the Frances Mayes nail right on the head!!! Brava!

I have to say that I re-read your earlier entry where you ponder the question of 'if not now, when?' all the time. It has been such an inspiration to me and I can't wait to meet you (and everybody else over there!!!)


3:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word!! I couldn't get past 10 pages of her famous Under the Tuscan Sun book because I was bored to tears!

8:11 PM  

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