Thursday, July 31, 2008

High season at Nascondiglio di Bacco

31 Luglio
What a difference a year and a pool and a bunch of marketing makes! We are about booked up for all of August at this point and my friends are going to have to camp out here for my birthday. We just need about 3 months of full like this to break even every year.
I was listening to my computer loaded with all the old cd's i sold before coming to Italy and heard my Paraguayan friend Ruben playing 'don't cry for me argentina' and I couldn't help but mourn the loss of a cozy little KC restaurant named Melbee's. I think today is their last day. I had a lot of good times there drinking my old wines while eating their small, delicious portions. I even spent one of my birthday nights there and had a custom meal with truffles and the works. I will miss them. I think Ruben is still playing up north at the argentina restaurant at least and he is worth seeing and buying a cd or 2.
Today and the last 3 days I have been planting iron poles called tutors at each of the grape vines. I think in 3 days I have probably inserted (with help from Raffaele) about 3000. Tomorrow I will start on the next 1000.
Bacco stayed much of the day today in time-out because he has been running off to the neighbor's house to play with a friend. I was quite worried maybe we would be having Bacco puppies a bit too soon, but I have been assured the dog is a he.
Bacco and I took a hike in San Benedetto del Tronto and Porto d'Ascoli tonight and they are full of tourists from all over. We are getting some of the folks who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the coast cities. Some of our guests are following Raffa's plan and just staying here by the pool all day, which helps pay the bills when they eat lunch and drink prosecco poolside.
I have been experimenting with bread making, without a bread maker of course, and yesterday made a yeast-free bread for a guest who is avoiding yeast. It was interesting, but much improved by the addition of one of Raffaele's homemade jams.
The vines are looking half way decent after a summer of hoeing and spraying every couple of weeks with the approved biological products of sulfur and a bit of copper. I need a hand, though, if anyone is looking for work. It is time to tie the vines to the tutors and prune 28,000 vines and at 2 per minute, you can imagine how long that will take me!
Here are some pix of our morning walk-Bacco, Filu and me looking back at Nascondiglio di Bacco in the dawn light over the old vineyard, Bacco in the "doghouse" and my single blooming rose right now.
Enjoy and thanks for reading! I had almost a record month of visits to the blog-nearly 800 and am nearing 10,000 since the inauguration of the "picture laden blog"

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Day in the Life

28 Luglio
I hate stealing those Beatle's song titles, but I am lacking originality today. This is a story of our day here at Nascondiglio di Bacco Monday July 28.
I woke up early, because I am guilty, as are many dog owners of feeling guilty about not walking with Bacco every day. We took a jaunt through the neighborhood, seeing the houses being reconstructed, the vineyards being torn out and replaced and my dream home down the way, quasi at the end of the road. On the way back, we took a shortcut through a newly shorn field of hay and into our vineyard where the workers were attaching the iron poles to the cables to support the individual vines. Bacco then took up his normal location under a table of one of our guests to beg for food, as though his master doesn't feed him.
The rest of the day was spent cleaning rooms to prepare them for new guests arriving today, cooking bread and pretzels, making lunch for a poolside meal for a family which included homemade pizza, sliced prosciutto, various cheeses and breads, our artichokes preserved in oil, a bit of sorbet to clean the palate, and olives ascolane (filled with meats and cheeses and deep fried).
I then welcomed new guests, cleaned around the pool, did more cooking, helped our neighbor get our sulfur and copper treatment mixed for the vineyard to ward off various maladies, trimmed trees and bushes damaged by our excavator, answered emails and checked out the latest news via computer and then enjoyed the sunset with a new Brazilian beer called budweiser.
That was it for today although I am surely forgetting something. Enjoy the scenery from dawn to dusk with the 1st showing Nascondiglio di bacco and our vineyard from the east, Bacco walking up the hill exhausted, then resting before begging, then the sunset looking west over Offida and Mt. Ascensione.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day 118 and the piscina is finished?

26 Luglio
This is the 118th day since the beginning of the pool construction and I think and I am promised (not for the 1st time) that all is in order, complete, finished, etc. I must admit, the pool does seem to function now and there is no water in our neighbor's vineyard. We are full this weekend and we started paying for the pool today by serving lunches to 5 guests poolside. Only a few more than a 1000 lunches to go and it will be paid for.
There are always festivals of one sort or another in the summer months all througout Italy and I made it over to Perugia to see REM at the Perugia Jazz Fest last week. Alicia Keys and others were also there as headliners. I have included some fotos of the concert and the festival and no, I am not dating anyone in the pix. I just wanted to show you what I look like as I near 51 yo.
Bacco and I made it to the beach today so he could get a swim in and burn some energy and leave some of his shedding fur behind in the sand and sea instead of in Nascondiglio di Bacco!
The vines are looking good and yesterday we finished hoeing the Pecorino which is always a chore with the perennial erba medica still trying to take over. The poles, anchors and wires are all placed in about 2/3 of the vineyard as well.
Buon weekend to everyone!
PS, I spoke too soon. My guests just asked me if water was supposed to exit the little pool!!!! AIIIIII!!!! Back to drinking heavily I guess.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Start of a new tradition

23 luglio
Well past the risk of seeming like the overproud papa, here are the pictures of Bacco's birthday hike. I have always tried to climb a mountain for my birthday, so this is an excuse to climb another one or 2 every year for Bacco's bd as well. Today, "the mountain goat" and I climbed 2 peaks with the taller being Cima del Lago at 2400 meters +. He greeted all the hikers, a lone sheep and another climbing dog on the 2,5 hour outing. The lake overlooks Lago di Pilato which by legend is where Pontius Pilate went to die after he converted to christianity or some such story. I will have to research it better. I do know there is an endangered little fresh water shrimp which lives within the lake. These pix are for all who know or want to know Bacco. I taught him to stop and smell the flowers, stand at the edge of cliffs, scale tall mountains (the cairn is the summit) and not to jump.

Photos up to today of our mascot Bacco, Happy Birthday!

Here are the photos as Bacco has grown up and now challenges rottweilers! The last photo is from today as he hosts our finnish kids. They cried when they had to leave Bacco and Filu. Maybe they will bring their friends and their families next year. Word of mouth about our great namesake flat coat!
Off for a hike with Bacco!

birthday photos

more of the best of Bacco. These are from January, 2008 to March. dds

Buon compleanno per Bacco 1 year old today!

23 Luglio
Here are some photos dating from Bacco's arrival to today. He is the king of Nascondiglio di Bacco and a bigger draw than we are, for sure. For his birthday, he got a piece of fig cake I made last night and we will make an excursion of some type today.
Enjoy! This batch is from October when he arrived.
dwight, raffa and Bacco

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bacco VS Rottweiler and Shaggy

Bacco has encountered his 1st male rottweiler who is visiting us with his parents from Ancona and we may have to put a size limit on the dog's we accept. They have been going at it a bit with the rottweiler outweighing Bacco by 15 kg at least. Bacco is feeling his adultness and will not back down, so it has been a bit scary. We will be at peace again later today.
I went to see Shaggy at Offida Friday night and it was interesting to say the least. He started 2 hours late and sang until 1 AM and when i returned to Nascondiglio di Bacco, Raffaele had locked me out. I tried every window and door without success and poor Bacco was inside wanting to let me in, but he's too young to know how to open the door by himself. Luckily for me, Room 2 outside was open, so I slept without sheets or pillowcase, but under a roof and in a bed.
Yesterday, we took a drive to Montecarotto which is in the northern part of the Marche and the northern capitol of verdicchio. We visited an underground winery, which we want to copy a bit, with our enologist, Roberto Potentini. You can see a picture of him explaining to Raffaele, the ingress of the grapes into the destemmer, press area. Afterwards, we had a nice lunch courtesy of Raffa's mom at San Benedetto del Tronto which is now full of tourists and let Bacco swim a bit at his favorite beach which allows dogs.
I am off to Perugia today to see REM in concert and back late tonight. Enjoy the pix of Shaggy, etc

Friday, July 18, 2008

18 luglio Pool solutions

Hi everyone, sorry about the long wait for a posting. This week we are hosting a delightful family from Finland and they are enjoying their time at the pool despite its flaws. The "Suits" came to inspect the problem and after much scratching of heads and other body parts have come up with a solution to the difficulty we have keeping water in the pools. I thought maybe pools were designed to keep water in, but my american logic perhaps is failing me. Thanks for all the comments recently; one you won't see here was my friend Jasper's suggestion about the pool which was to DRINK HEAVILY! With a bit of work and crossed fingers, we hope to solve our glitches soon but meanwhile, the pool is useable.
Yesterday, I tackled a new task and built a little sidewalk from our sidewalk next to the house to the stairway to the pool using the left over bricks from the construction and the sand left behind in the driveway. It seems solid, but then I don't have to worry about any OSHA inspections.
The pictures show the almost completed patios in front of Nascondiglio di bacco and out my back door (check out the new curtains as well) where I can sip pina coladas and watch sunsets and frolicking in the pool. Also, I included a view of the marche from our last hike looking east towards the sea. Today with luck it will rain and I plan to work in the old vineyard putting vines inside cables etc. Tomorrow we have a road trip planned to meet our winemaker and explore a couple of architectural ideas for our winery. I will bring back pix with my little canon.
I hope everyone has a great weekend and thanks for reading!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The cement pond with a leak

14 luglio
Happy independence day for france. Ciao Laurence.
What a fun weekend. Yesterday, we had friends of Raffaele's who are all scout leaders as he is and they had a festa with us including a stint in the pool which included roughhousing. The water which exited over the infinity border overwhelmed the little pool and exited towards the vineyards below. Worse, today we lost power for an hour and a half and the backup valve malfunctioned, so we lost 1/6 of the water from our pools and that prompted a visit from our pool guy, remember him? He has subsequently stated our pool was not well designed as the pool below is not big enough to recycle the water from above if there are more than a couple of people splashing there. As a Doctor in my previous life, I have heard all kinds of excuses from my brethren for complications, but maybe none equal the following. "The backup valve failed because the water is too hard" In other words, our water which has not clogged one faucet or shower head in 4 years here at Nascondiglio di Bacco has too much calcium which blocks backup valves quite quickly.
I have a number of choices: take Prozac, drink heavily, hoe more hours every day, slash someone's tires, don't pay the remainder of the money owed for the pool, etc. I think 3 and 5 are the most healthy.
Enough of my little frustrations. The 1st of 2 quintanas (remember the parade from last year at Ascoli) took place this weekend but you still have a chance to view the spectacle in August! I am enclosing pics from the parade this year. The hawk is suspiciously similar to our Harris Hawk, don't you think. Get out your bird books.
ciao dds

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Gola Hike

10 Luglio
We took a day of vacation and went up into the Sibillina mountains to take a really nice stroll through a canyon cut by a stream over many millions of years. It has cut formations similar to the pictures I have seen of slot canyons. I had purchased waterproof hiking shoes just for this hike, and others like it, in our mountains an hour away. Bacco had a ball greeting all the hikers as we went along, as well as taking baths and drinking his fill every 200 meters or so. Be sure to check out Raffaele's blog post for today at the link. We hiked, by my estimate about 10 miles and I had to try to enter one of the slot canyons to try out my shoes. I got well into the canyon climbing up on driftwood and finding handholds on the walls. Unfortunately, behind me, Bacco tried to follow me and more unfortunate still, Raffaele was not quick on the draw with his camera to show Bacco jumping up the stream and slipping back each time.
We then hiked up to a little church on a promontory which is being rebuilt ala St Francis, stone by stone by a single priest who 1st came up with the idea 38 years ago and has been plugging away ever since. I will have to post other pictures as I took a total of 90 today. (If these pix are not up to snuff it is because i had very sad news from this week-my Canon broke- and I will probably be without my baby for months as I would guess it will have to go back to the factory. To add insult to injury, I jumped into the pool with my motorola razor in my pocket and it was particulary incazzato afterwards, and now refuses to work. Oh well, I have my health!)
Finally, starving after the hike we tried out a really nice restaurant in the middle of nowhere called Il Tiglio with white glove service (no lie!) and then headed for home.
Tomorrow, I will be guiding a tour of our vineyard with 2 representatives from the company who sold us 1/2 of our grapevines and they are staying with us tonight.
The garden is producing a ton of zucchini, tomatoes, and sunflowers (don't know what to do with them, but I have hung some to dry to see if I can toast the seeds) and our cantaloupe are starting to mature. I harvested 20 lbs of figs yesterday and need to search for recipes. Maybe I will make fig ice cream.
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! More pix to come.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Taking Bacco for a swim

I felt like Bacco didn't get enough exercise this weekend, so we took a spin to dog beach near Porto d"Ascoli and he did his imitation of the olympic trials. As you can see, he is into surfing, retrieving and swimming. We are now empty for a week, but the vineyard stuff arrived, so we can get busy with putting up poles and wires and the workers have finally started on the patio in front of Nascondiglio di Bacco.
I am trying to negotiate with our sod folks as they augmented the price quite a bit since our 1st conversation. That never happens in america, does it?
Also, I am getting another bid to give them a little incentive to return to reason.
Here, it is hot in the 90's and no sign of rain for 8 days or so. We can use a bit if you have extra your way. Thanks for reading!