All or Nothing
June & July 2012 - All or Nothing
Its been interesting, as in the old curse/wish “ May you live in interesting times” sort of way.
June started well, mowing was well in hand and under control. We went mulberry picking along a long white roadway near friends who also gave us a share of their amazing cherries we helped pick. We made a good amount of jam with the fruit along with tarts and jellies. So green feet from the cut grass and red stained hands from the fruit, we must have looked a real sight.
Our neighbour, caretakers of the property below us, dropped dead out of the blue. We spoke to him on the Friday and on the Monday we were being told he died of a heart attack on the Sunday cutting grass. We were stunned, he's the same age and although he worked a lot harder than we do on the land he was fit and used to it, so we thought. His wife was inconsolable and went to live in the village leaving the feeding of the dogs, chickens, doves etc at the converted church below us to friends and family. Oddly the owners didn't show their faces for several weeks but the dogs kept up a constant yelping, barking and howling 24/7 that drove us and our family who arrived a week later to distraction.
Parents arrived like refugees from a war zone, bruised, battered and tense. A word to the wise, do not play rounders or rugby with your grandchildren it could be fatal. Ma had just recovered from a very sore knee, arthritis she says so not cured just not so painful, Pa had at least 2 cracked ribs (if not broken) a bruise the size of a rugby ball on the back of one thigh and a shoulder that had been wrenched badly if it hadn't been dislocated and popped back in by itself. As this happened just 2 days before their arrival it was a tribute to their stamminer that they made it via, car, plane and trains lugging suitcases, at all.
They arrived our main computer hard drive collapsed. Having had this occur the previous year when it had been unreasonably hot,. This June was 10 degrees in excess of normal temperatures and by now the inside of the house was 30 degrees and outside unbelievable on the south paving, we'd backed up to a second hard drive and were running fans through and open -sided unit. We took the suspect unit out as it refused to open XP and connect the second as the primary. Two days later it started making clicking noises. This is never a good sign. So when we went shopping we took the clicking unit and a pen-store to the computer shop and asked them to transfer the information across. Fortunately Ma had brought a USB wi-fi connector with her so we could now run the laptop as back up and her flexible friend so we could order 2 new Hard drives via Amazon (they are about 80 Euros more here than in the UK) and all we could do was wait.
Parents looking better we decided to go to St.Antimo's to hear the Gregorian chanting near Pienza and go across country to Catglione del lago and have lunch at a little out of the way place that serve their pasta from a huge wheel of seasoned cheese, having stirred it around to flavour it first. Found the abbey and were on our way when we realised we'd taken too soon and decided to turn around before we;d gone too far. We reversed into a ditch that was hidden by the grass growing in it. The front of the car was embedded to the car hinges and the boot was skywards. No one hurt but we were sure the car had been severely damaged if not written off. A jogger who'd seen this happen came over straight away and offered to help push us out but we were well and firmly stuck. He kindly phoned for a rescue vehicle with a crane attachment to haul us out. He jogged off and returned a while later to say it would be about 30 mins. While we waited, almost and hour, 3 more people stopped to offer their help too and said everyone did the same thing at least once in their lives. The rescue lorry arrived, he had us out in 15 mins flat and then stung us for cash as he wouldn't accept our insurance, no other vehicle involved, too much paperwork and too long to get paid and a cheque wasn't from his town and he couldn't veryfy it out on the road. Still to our amazement and everlasting gratitude, to whatever watches over fools, the car was fine. The front plastic bumper has pulled apart from itself at a joint but even the tracking is ok. Naturally we were late for the resturant, which had closed by the time we arrived and the second, despite saying they were open until midnight said the kitchen had closed, 10 mins after we sat down and waited to be served. Not the greatest of days out ever.
Our family and then friends returned to home, the hard drives arrived, one was the wrong plug connections the other has 756 bad sectors and would load an operating system. So we had to get one locally but by now our old XP disc had taken so many installations it too packed in. Not to worry we thought, we'll down load something else via the lap top and transfer it to the desk top. The transformer decided now was the time to start failing, the battery had given up the ghost years ago so mains was our only option. A very long and tedious time later, between thermal shutdowns, mission accomplished we have Ubuntu 12.04 running in the last week of July. Computers were going to save the world so much time and money being efficient so Tomorrows World told us back in the '70s.
We did get an apricot harvest. Small but plentiful fruit so lots more jam, not so amusing to make in 35 degrees of heat, but delicious all the same. The plumbs looked like they were turning to prunes on the trees and 90% of the apples, and it was going to be a bumper crop this year, started to rot on the trees with the heat. The peas and beans failed to produce very much as the flowers shriveled before they could set but the roses, what a show! The poor toads started digging my plants out of the pots so they could shelter under the soil as the ground was baked too hard for them to dig.
Now the tin hat, or the other shoe. The pool PH went negative almost over night. We had just fitted the new adhesive boarder to cover the nasty stain left by an organic bronzing agent (walnut stain) a client had used 2 years previously and were about to top us the pool but fortunately we tested the water before hand. We have really heavily calcified water, hard isn't in it, 2 in line water filters and an electronic thing and we still make limescale you can chip of the taps. We usually have to purchase PH minus granules to balance out the acidity. We spoke to a friend who's pool was not only ph- but also a milky green and no amount of chlorine was making any difference. We went to the suppliers with water samples and they confirmed we had an extreme alkaline issue on our hands and this like the reverse was corrosive and not doing the lining, skin or mechanisms any good at all. Panic ensued as did a lot of corrective chemical that had to be introduced in 500ml per half hour instances. It took 30 litres and two weeks to get it near normal.
So no rain for 8 weeks and searing heat = watering like crazy every day, computers and pools really covers the two months. We're hoping for a dose of boredom next month.