Sunday, October 24, 2010

One Good Year

I realize, after going over my blog archive, that it has been one year since I started this blog and publicly engaged in the three promises of its subhead. And to be honest, I have succeeded and I have failed at each.

The house: It's built! Sally and I are living in it! But I still have a little work to do on the floors, and we need doors on the bedroom and bath. Otherwise, the rest is cosmetic (light sconces to install, a dab of paint here and there). I'd say I have succeeded handsomely, and the fact that 14 months after groundbreaking the house was habitable in a country where most things good and bad take twice as long as you think they should is a true triumph. Thanks Paulo & Claudio & Fruzico Brandini (our builders)! Thanks Daniele (our surveyor/architect)! Thanks Simone and Cesare (our plumbers)! Thanks Stefano and Cesare (our electricians)! Thanks Piannigianni, Alvaro and Oreste (our excavators)! Thanks Stefania (our translator and roustabout)! Thanks Pasquale (our blacksmith) Thanks Gianni, Arnaldo, and Milena (our neighbor farmers who've helped in many small ways)! Thanks Russell & Eileen (our friends, cheering squad, hosts, and transportation for the last 3 years)! Thanks Momo Brubeck (who showed us the property and helped me clear a good part of it). Thanks Gatto, Matteo, Gabriele, and the other guys who pitched in for the initial vineyard cleanup. And thanks Carlo Roberti of Toscana PhotoWorkshop for inviting us to Italy and introducing us to this place all those years ago.

The wine: Going back to my September posts, I see I succeeded in getting not one, but 3 kinds of wine fermenting by Sept 26. But because they’re still bubbling away on a nice, slow, low temperature, non-fruit-killing schedule in the pregnant bellies of the 54 liter glass demijohns. I can't really say that it's made. Still, given everything I was up against just to resurrect the dying vineyard and wrestle enough organic fruit from all the pests and disease of this year, the fact anything at all is fermenting is a real triumph. Thank you Elisabetta and Giancarlo for offering the grapevines that gave us the volume we needed to fill the vats.

Becoming Italian: Ah, well, in this I must admit defeat. I have learned only enough Italian to listen and nod politely at the dinner table and throw in a word or two here and there. I have succeeded in cooking pasta to the satisfaction of my Italian friends, but I have not grown a photo-worthy tomato in my garden (here they pass around pictures of vegetables like Americans do snapshots of their children). I now speak with my hands a lot more, but they have said some rather embarrassing things inadvertently. I’d give myself a D grade (with a B+ for effort). But isn't the point really the journey toward Italianita’? Like perfection or the horizon, it’s a goal I can never really reach. At least I've gotten a good start.

I suppose I should re-head the blog: One more year to finish a home, One more year to finish a wine, and One more year to become more Italian. But I think I’ll just attach a small addendum.

Stay tuned for Found In Tuscany -- Year 2!