“The systems just aren’t very robust.”

That’s become a rather common phrase for us in Italy. Whether we’re talking about the telephone connection, the electrical service, the water or the heat, our lament always seems to apply. Something is always breaking down, turning off, or just wavering enough to be annoying. (more…)

A nature lover at heart, I wouldn’t hurt a flea—but a fly . . . yes!

I have never heard anyone voluntarily, or under duress espouse the virtues of the common fly. I understand that they are part of creation just like me, but that doesn’t give them the right to pester, pollute and perpetrate everyday acts of annoyance on innocent people. Actually, my disdain for the fly goes way back. (more…)

We decided it was time to repaint the picket fence.

The curved pickets are pieces of sculpture—works of art. For hundreds of years those whitewashed points and curves have worked their way into our collective hearts and psyche as an integral part of the American landscape. Ours definitely needed a lot of scraping, priming and painting, but we were up to the task. It had been about 10 years and we knew pretty much what to expect. Or so we thought. (more…)

What’s going on here? Is this some kind of a prank? Well . . . if so, it’s not very funny!

It all started this afternoon when I was sanding the kitchen window sill getting ready to repaint. I decided to get fancy about it and vacuum at the same time to eliminate all of the dust from the electric sander. It’s easy. Just hold the hose of the vacuum cleaner about an inch from the edge of the sander and all of that dust is miraculously sniffed away. No problem. (more…)

Do things right the first time!!!  Although it may seem more costly or time consuming, it’s always better in the long run. Well there’s the catch right there—the long run. This powerful little axiom has come up repeatedly over our 40 some years together and you would think, that we might have picked up on it, say . . . 2-3 years into things. But no! We decided to learn about quality the hard way—over time. But, we finally learned our lesson! (more…)

We were driving through the rolling hills and plains of central Indiana and southwestern Ohio a couple of weeks ago. It was smack dab in the middle of a winter freeze, so the patchy snow and the gray-brown horizon of leafless trees presented a rather somber welcome. In some strange way we hoped for an unusual blizzard, or a sudden ice storm to sweep through, as they can be incredibly beautiful . . . but those moments are few and fleeting as the winter months drone on. (more…)

Dusk crept across the valley as I sat on the stone bench overlooking the old meandering farm road below. Suddenly, I heard a snort somewhere to my left and immediately became motionless, listening intently. Then I heard multiple snorts and munching sounds to my right, coming from the nearby brush just beyond the road. Glancing back to the left, the first snorters came into view! (more…)