16 March 2014


Yesterday I despatched 40 paintings (six of them mine) to be exhibited in the Palazzo Farnese in Ortona. The exhibition is being hosted by the Museum of the Battle of Ortona, and the opening event is at the end of the month. I am happy that this is yet another sign of the strength of Legato, but sometimes it really tests my own strength. I am tired.

Today has been a glorious day, and I was hoping to paint. But my tireless worker was determined that my cantina (the end bit that I treat as a garden shed/woodshed) be sorted and cleared and turned into a real room. Sigh... I really NEED my garden shed. However, you can't stop a good man on a mission, so I have now have a cleaned, cleared, disinfected and (temporarily, I suspect) mouse free end room.

Of course that meant I have been going up and down steps and stairs all day, so no quiet painting time. Tomorrow afternoon, maybe?

But I digress; yesterday was also the anniversary of the bombing of the city of Cassino. The president of the Republic and the Defence Minister were both there, along with many other dignitaries. I tossed and turned about my feelings and in the end didn't go. I should have been there to represent both the MCFRR and the NZ Italy Star Association, but not in a particularly official capacity. The programme was long, and it would have been a long time on my feet. In the end common sense prevailed, and I stayed at home until it was time to take the paintings to the Ortona representatives who were to transport them in their bus. Looking at all the photographs of the Cassino ceremony, and seeing that friends who have far more right to be there than I were not able to get close enough to hear the proceedings, I am very glad that I didn't try to "do the right thing" this time.

This morning a very sore throat confirmed that I was right to stay at home, so I didn't make it to the ceremonies today either, and one of them I really would have liked to attend.

So, no painting, no ceremonies, a sore throat, but no mice in the garden shed (oops I mean the end room of the cantina) either! The weather has been wonderful, the birds are singing so happily, and the valley is buzzing with sounds of cultivation and spring. On balance, I guess the weekend hasn't been too bad.

Today I am grateful for freshly picked mountain asparagus. 

12 March 2014

slightly surreal...

I am not quite sure what I think when I look at the trees now... but I am sure they will be looking normal again before too long. This is a disinfectant as well as a cure for any wounds inflicted as we removed the big growths that would eventually cause the tree to dry and die.

Apparently our hillside trees sustained considerable damage in an ill-timed hailstorm, and the virus was able to enter the trees. I am not sure if this is right or not, as I have watched the trees becoming infected over a couple of years. But as none of my neighbours seemed to be worried, I didn't worry about it either, and simply removed the worst affected branches. But this year I am feeling ruthless!

This is not a bark-less tree though; apart from having two little woofers who run about under it, it still has most of its bark under the paste that has been applied.

Maybe I will post more progress photos in a few days. Right now I am imagining lovely summer breaks under the trees, with friends enjoying my lovely hillside. :) 

being drastic

And now the tree trunks are scraped and painted. More photos to come (I was sure I had taken some today but I can't find them!) It may not be the prettiest oliveto "olive orchard" in Italy, but I can hardly be held responsible for the pruning (or lack of) before I bought the property. And from now on I am going to be drastic and try to train the trees so that I can pick the crop without risking life and limb (or anyone else's life and limb).  The job should be finished by the weekend. I have learnt a few new words, like chioma (not to be confused with chiamo) and concime, so am pretty pleased with my week really. And just for good measure, the citrus got a box of their own concime, and that has been applied, raked in, and watered.

Today I am also grateful for my whistling worker. 

a healthy dose of spring fever

I'm enjoying getting outside and soaking up some springtime.

My olive trees were quite diseased this year, so have had a rather drastic haircut. I am happy with the pile of firewood for next year, as olive wood burns slowly and gives off a great heat.

I'll add some more photos later, but this was the work in progress a few days ago.

Today I am grateful for helpful friends.  

2 March 2014

sombre times

I have sacrificed blogging in the interests of Legato lately. There is so much to do, particularly with the extra exhibition at Ortona this year. I am about to email my text for the Ortona catalogue to be translated into Italian, and then I can (almost) give my attention to my own projects. But there are another couple of deadlines to meet, commitments to honour first. 

Yesterday I exhibited my own paintings (that makes a nice change!) in Cassino at an immigrants festival. It was mostly a joyous occasion, with dancing, singing, live music and a lot of colour. Immigrants do bring colour to the uniform black of an Italian winter wardrobe. 

But there were two very tragic notes to the festival. The organisers included representatives from the group "Se Non Ora, Quando?" (If not now, when?) At the table by the entrance to the festivities was a chair with a poster on it, proclaiming that the chair was occupied. I didn't take a lot of notice of it as I set up my paintings. And then I read the poster. 

Posto Occupato.   (Click for link). 

You don't need to read Italian to understand the message here. The figures for domestic violence and violence against women are high. I try to write only positive things about Italy, but this is a bigger issue than my loyalty to my adopted country. It is not unusual to hear (here) that "if there is no jealousy it is not real love". I maintain that if it is real love there is no need for jealousy. Jealousy always has a negative form, and love is joyous and positive. 

That was not the only pause for thought. Many of the immigrants living in Cassino are from the Ukraine. Their costumes were colourful, their needlework and crafts lovely. But when it was their turn to speak they called first for a minute of silence to reflect on what is happening in their country and to honour the victims of a recent siege. One of the women amongst us lost her brother two weeks ago, killed because he was thought to be a fascist. I couldn't keep back my tears. 

The Ukraine women spoke so fervently, and so passionately, about how grateful they are to Italy for giving them safe harbour and work. It made me feel very removed from reality. I live here because I choose to, not because I need to. I also felt very small, and when it was my turn to talk about myself I found that I had very little to say. How very privileged we are, in New Zealand, to be safe from invasion, to be free from the kind of violence that my friends with families still in Venezuela and the Ukraine have to fear.

My next exhibition is also in Cassino, at the festival for women. Again it should be a joyous occasion, but this year is being marked in a different way. Seventy years ago the women in this region were suffering hardships in an occupied and devastated land. The art works I take with me next week are so very different from those I took yesterday. We are discussing the effects of the war on women in a three day event. It will be very sobering and sad. I will try to focus on friendships and positives, because there is only so much sadness I can endure. 

In June I am looking forward very much to visits from happy friends, and Legato will be behind me. Laughter and pleasure will be the order of the day. 

But there are still many weeks until June, and this blog will fall casualty again. 

Thank you for patiently returning even when I haven't been posting, and forgive me for not taking many photos for you these days. 

Today I am grateful for women who are not afraid to speak out.