Mishmash the crazy cat

Mishmash the crazy cat

I guess it is about time I introduced you to my crazy cat, obviously no cat of mine is going to be normal is it? Six years ago when I moved into this house I found half a dozen cats under the wood pile. The kitten that managed to claw me half to death as I tried to captured it was Mishmash.

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Such a tranquil little kitty

So I kept her. I am not a cat person, I always wanted a big stupid dog something like an Airedale, instead I ended up with a crazy cat.

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My choice of dog.

To look at Mishmash, she seems a calm pussycat. Happy to laze around on her box or occasionally return with a mouse or rabbit. She once dragged a rabbit home that was bigger then her. I am not sure she understands she is a cat. Let me give you an example.

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Mishmash basking on top of her old house.

The house next to mine is the country house of a guy who lives in Milan. During spring and autumn he spends the weekends here along with his wife and his dog. I always thought dogs chased cats, apparently this is not true.

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Run pussy run

My cat enjoys tormenting next doors dog. A  while ago I was looking out of my bedroom window and watched Mishmash creep across our garden and then into the neighbours garden where she disappear into a bush.  I waited and expected her to return with a mouse. She waited twenty minutes for her prey to arrive, Jotto, next doors poor dog  wandered down its garden and just as it was in striking distance a blur of orange and brown fur launched itself through the leaves of the bush.

I was shocked, I wasn’t as shocked as poor Jotto who wasn’t sure what had attacked him or which way to run. Jotto yelped and headed back up the garden with my cat chasing him, boy did he make a noise as he tried to escape.

Last week when confronted by Mishmash, Jotto made the mistake of running down the garden away from the house. The poor dog was pinned in the corner while Mishmash laid down and hissed at him every time he flinched or moved a muscle.

You might remember the retired doctor who lives down our lane, she once asked me to keep Mishmash in the house at night or at least lock her in the boiler room. I explained she is a working cat, she is here to keep the rodent population in check and she does this at night. I asked her what the problem was.

The doctors bedroom has an exterior glass door and it seems, when Mishmash gets bored around four o’clock in the morning, she wanders down the lane to the doctors house and bangs on the glass door to catch the attention of the doctors two very large dobermans. When the dogs hear her, they quite rightly go ballistic, frantically running around in circles and barking. This has a side effect of waking the doctoressa. I have been told it is not a huge problem because she only visits once a month.

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I am sure you remember the dottoressa from The Boys in Blue

I told Mishmash I was going to include her in my little blog of madness, she was non plussed with the idea. She knows she is already famous with the children in the schools I teach in. She somehow becomes involved in creative lessons such as how to write a letter to father Christmas in English or how to describing your pet.

School

English lesson for 10 year old Italian children.

The reference to the tie, is because I normally wear a suit or a jacket and a Disney tie to school, the kids favourite tie is my Tigger tie.

After a lot of explaining and begging Mishmash agreed to have a picture taken for you. She even put on her best smile.

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A smile from Mishmash

It is around one O’clock in the morning and I can hear Jotto barking, which can only mean Mishmash has gone over to play with him.

Good night from me and of course also from Mishmash

Translating Fun.

By now you know my sense of humour isn’t exactly, normal.  I have no idea why this is. Grab a drink tea, coffee or preferably wine and come a little closer and I will tell you when I was asked to translate a conversation for a friend.

Now you guys know my Italian language skills are pretty dismal. But under the right conditions, maybe a couple of glasses of wine,  I can sometimes even surprise myself. It was eight o’ clock in the evening and I had just finished giving an English lesson to a group of friends. As I drove away in my little blue Mini, I received a voice message from the wife.

I am going to bed, your dinner is in the dog oven.

I turned my car around and headed back up the hill to La Chance, one of my favourite wine bars owned by Edo, who is a bit of a character and his selection of wine is fantastic.

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Edo, Cocktail maker, friend and a brilliant chef

I was just about to order food, when Edo invited me to stay and eat with the staff, so I settled down with my wine and started to laugh and have fun with the staff there was also an Irishman who was in Gabbiano looking for work!  Which is strange because Gabbiano is a little hill town, most people leave Gabbiano to find work.

The cook who works at La Chance is a big fellow and to be honest a little scary looking, I always think he looks like a huge KGB hitman, on the plus side he is a talented chef.

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He may be nice, but he is really scary looking.

The chef, believe it or not, is twice as scary as the photo I pinched from the net.

It is now two-thirty in the morning and we are just finishing the deserts and I have a nice glass of Spanish wine in front of me, who would have guessed Spanish wine could be so good.

I have spent the evening laughing and joking with these guys and suddenly the chef leans across the table and catches me like a deer caught in a cars headlights and then he asks “Pecora Nera, can you translate for me, I want to ask the Irishman a question?”

Now I know, I should have laughed and declined, or called Edo over who was in the kitchen, but, well I was drinking wine and….

Sure, tell me?

Ask him why he has moved here.

So as the chef cast his stare on the Irish man. I turned to my new friend and said, The Chef says you have really nice legs.

Monkey

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Irishman was struck dumb for a few seconds, he managed to tear his eyes away from the chef, who incidentally was watching him quite intently, he turned to me and said.

I am not like that.

How I didn’t snort my wine all over the table I will never know, I shrugged my shoulders and told the chef he is here for work.

The chef looked at me, and said, tell him there is no work here.

My translation, from Italian to English went something like , The Chef says he can teach you.

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Sorry I had to use this one

The look on the irishman’s face was priceless, the chef followed up his previous question, by looking at the waitress and asking if she knew of any jobs.

This was obviously translated into, The chef says your legs are almost as nice as the waitresses, and then Edo leaned over and refilled my glass. His English is pretty good and he caught my latest bit of translation.

Pecora Nera!!!!! Be good.

The Irishman looked at me, and then I lost it, I collapsed into laughter, I had to put my glass down before I spilled it. Fortunately, when I came clean and explained my little error in translating, both the the chef and Irishman thought it was funny. Although I haven’t seen the Irishman around in a long time.

 

Cabin Fever and the Corona Virus

Cabin Fever and the Corona Virus

The last three weeks have been a little strange to say the least, to be allowed to leave the house I need to print a self certification explaining why leaving my house is so important, which wouldn’t be such a problem if my printer had not run out of ink and if I could think of a good enough reason to go out. It seems replenishing my stock of wine or buying crisps is not important enough.

Printing press

If only I had kept my printing press

The government has shut all the shops excluding supermarkets and Chemists, I was due to have my hair cut last week as it is getting a little long, hopefully they will reopen sometime next month, by which time I will have either taken a pair of scissors to it or I will start to look a little like Cousin It

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It is actually pretty serious, I am down to my last bottle of wine oh and a bag in the box of cooking wine, which might have to be considered drinking wine. Keeping the British stiff upper lip, I am putting together an escape committee.

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The plan is really quite simple, we dig a tunnel to the closest bar which is  The Osteria della Luna. I know the layout of the bar pretty well as it is one of my regular haunts, if the plan and my calculations work perfectly, our tunnel should exit just behind the bar, where I know there is an ample supply of  fine wine, whisky and crisps. We won’t be detected until the bar is allowed to reopen sometime in April.

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Tell Pecora Nera we missed the pub and got the beer garden

What else, oh my Italian Citizenship ceremony is on hold until they lift the movement restrictions,  I am a little cross over this, I went to the trouble of ordering a bow tie and getting my suit cleaned and pressed.

Bow tie

My new Bow Tie

I kid you not, I wore my new bow tie to school and the kids went crazy, so when this is all over and the schools reopen, (although the latest rumour circulating is they won’t bother reopening the schools before summer…) I will buy a few funky bow ties for the kids to laugh at.

I want the schools to open soon as I really miss working with my little munchkins. Especially Class 2 who have decided I am Peter Pan and one morning pleaded with me to fly around the classroom for them and even little Cecilia who sometimes forgets herself and decides that licking her school desk is much more interesting than my English Lesson.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I wish you well.

Pecora Nera

President of the Escape Committee

Major Catastrophe Averted

The day started off much like any other.

I went to the bar for a cappuccino and sat down with my laptop to catch up with some work.

Midway through my second cappuccino I received a message from one of my favourite students, cancelling her lesson because she was sick, and just so I believed her, she had included a photo of her thermometer.

Yup, A little poorly

The day was turning out to be a nice relaxing day.

Just after midday I returned home to get my study ready for a couple of students.

As I drove in my drive, I noticed an envelope in the mail box. Not many people write to me, so I didn’t pay it much attention.

After opening the house, I decided to empty the kitchen rubbish into the outside bin, which is located close to the mail box.

Just out of curiosity, I peeked into the mailbox and saw a strange yellow letter. Hmm! The hairs on my neck had already started to stand up, even before I had fully translated this little innocuous letter of doom. In fact as I read and understood the word ‘disconnected’, I could smell the smell of fear.

Just a little scared

It appears I had ignored the water bill for far too long (and so had Mrs Sensible, but I won’t mention that).

Having the water disconnected created two very significant problems

1) Mrs Sensible would probably kill me

2) Mrs Sensible would probably kill me

There were very unclear instructions on how to pay the bill.

By Bacs and then fax a copy of the payment to the office. Sorry Fax!!!! Do people really still use fax machines??

I remember these, vaguely

Paying the bill at the local post office, Ha ha ha ha! NO!

Italy at its worse

Paying the bill in person at the head office. Hmm, maybe while I was at the office I could charm them into reconnecting me before Mrs Sensible returns from school and tries to kill me.

My lazy, relaxed Wednesday had suddenly turned into a race against time.

I had precisely two and a half hours to not only drive to Moncalvo (30 minutes away) convince them to reconnect me before Mrs Sensible returned home from school.

Remember this is Italy, the land of three hour lunch breaks and  then get home (another 30 minutes) and start hiding the kitchen knives.

A little 3 hour snack

I parked in the main square and ran to the office, a good heart stopping 8 minutes away.

As I entered the office, which was fortunately empty of customers. I spotted two office type workers chatting.

Now I wanted to be super polite, remember, I needed these women to agree to try and reconnect the water before Mrs S returned home.

10 minutes they stood there chatting, I timed them.

Mega Stress

Finally it started, a women in high fashion jeans and wearing more jewellery than the Great Hatton Garden Heist jewel thieves escaped with, turned to me and said:

Tell me.

Please, I pay this money or this money. I said pointing at two different amounts on the snotty letter of demand.

Have you taken a ticket she asked?

Let me explain, because Italians are incapable of queuing, there are little machines where you can take a ticket.

Ticket?

Yes the machine outside the office!

I was just about to point out how futile it was to take a ticket from outside, especially as I was the only customer in the office! When I remembered, I had to be very charming if I had any hope of reconnecting the water before Mrs S returned home.

I was as nice as nice could be

The ticket machine had numerous options and I very nearly took one of each, I use this technique at the local hospital.

Sticking my head back in the office, I asked which colour!

Any it doesn’t matter.

Maybe, just maybe, she glimpsed my thoughts as I looked at her a second too long.

I returned with a random ticket, which she ignored when I tried to give it her,

As much use as a chocolate fireguard

I once again asked her which amount on the letter I needed to pay.

Both!

Ahhhhh!

I removed several hundred euros from my wallet and tried to passed them through to her.

She looked at the bill,

Who is Mrs Sensible?

I rubbed the bridge of my nose, I was thinking, should I say, you will read about her in the papers after she has killed me?

Instead I said my wife, and in English I added, and at this rate probably not for much longer.

And this is your address?She asked pointing to my address.

No it’s a strangers I thought, I like paying other peoples bills.

I nodded, I didn’t trust my voice.

We only take payments in the morning!

Doomed

Sometimes, I even manage to amaze myself with how calm I can be when I really want to throttle somebody.

A very nice and normal woman, who had been filing other people’s snotty letters, looked at me and must have felt pity for me.

Help me, please

Come here, she said, I will deal with it.

I think my sigh of relief could be heard three offices away.

She not only dealt with the payment but while I was using google translate to create a nice thank you for her, using words like courtesy, life saver and you might have helped me to live to drink another glass of wine, she phoned the local engineer to reconnect the water!!!!

Saved

Racing home I phoned a good friend of mine, listen I need a big favour, Mrs S finishes work in 30 mins. Please invite her over for a coffee.

Ate you organising a surprise for her?

Erh, not quite.

I would love to help, but I am not at home until later.

Ahhhhggghhh!

Pleaseeeee!

Unbelievably a little man was already in my garden playing with his tools. and water was once more gurgling through my house.

Mrs S arrived some two and a half hours after the engineer had left, she was late home and so far she is non the wiser

Tonight I will check to see if we have an overdue gas or electric bill.

But first I need a glass of wine to steady my nerves.

When your dreams finally came true…

Many years ago I visited a friends house and he had an indoor pool! It wasn’t a big pool, but it was still a pool. I have always dreamt of having a pool in the house or in the garden. Obviously garden swimming pools are a bit useless in the UK, probably there are only 20 days when the water would be warm enough so you don’t die of hyperthermia. And those 20 days would be spread over 5 or 6 years.

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My first attempt at a garden swimming pool

Two years ago a friend and his little daughter came for a barbecue, he brought a kids paddling pool with him. It was a little small, but it was still a pool in my garden. I was so impressed I posted the picture on my facebook page. Sorry about my white legs, even after years of living here, my legs remain white, in fact they are so white, they have a blueish tinge.

The other thing I thought would be nice in my garden was a little garden stream, a brook gurgling pleasantly down the garden. with some minnows and maybe even a frog or two. We can but dream can’t we.

There is an old Chinese proverb, Be careful what you wish for lest it comes true. 

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Ha blacksheep, I have wisdom for you.

This week two of my wishes came true, first a indoor swimming pool was installed and three days later not only did I have a funky shaped swimming pool in my garden, but a little gurgling stream. You may think life is looking up, Ol’e Pecora Nera has come into money!!!

Not quite. First it rained for 15 solid days. It was so bad, the cats wouldn’t cross the garden from their little house to mine, maybe cats aren’t very good at swimming. Ok Susie Stupid Pussy Cat sat out in the rain, but then she is one peculiar cat.

Disaster

The leaking valve

This is the leaking valve that kindly installed the indoor swimming pool in my bathroom, Mrs Sensible’s bathroom is bone dry. Getting out of bed I headed for the bathroom, bleary eyed I open the bathroom door and nearly had to complete a swallow dive followed by a single back flip as I skidded across the bathroom..   Uttering a single yyyyeeeeoooooowwwwwlll.

Followed by a couple of unprintable words.

I spent ages mopping the floor, there were some more unprintable words when I skidded, artistically across the floor with the mop in one hand and knocked the bucket over. I have written to the Olympic committee to suggest mop dancing should be added to the 2020 Tokyo games.

Two days later the garden swimming pool was installed

Garden pond

A little pool

Do not be deceived, it is deeper than it looks. The surrounding mud is a treacherous bog. When we can’t find one of the cats, I go searching in the mud and and newly installed pool with a long stick.

Near the garden pool there is a cute stream. No minnows no frogs, I think they were swept away with the grass and some of the top soil, maybe if I go down to the bottom of the garden I might find them with a slightly damp stray Tom Cat that was  trying to woo Mishmash earlier this week.

River

Once upon a time there was grass and top soil here

The roaring torrent of a river has gone and so has the grass and top soil. Now you think this post is over don’t you, it almost is.

When I went down into the cantina to switch off the water, so that I could change the faulty valve in the bathroom, guess what I found?

Yes you guessed.

Canteena

Ok, why not lets have an underground swimming pool

The cellar was slowly filling up with water. The water is leaking through the walls!!!

Admittedly it doesn’t look too bad yet. But at the time of writing this, it is rising. Without the little pump, we could have a big problem.

So there we go, I wished for a swimming pool and received three ,complete with a little river.

Happy days

Italian the language of poets.

Once again I have completely mangled the beautiful but difficult Italian language.

This morning I stopped at a bar with Mrs Sensible, I ordered a spumante and received a frosty look from Mrs S.

Spumante! at 9 O’clock in the morning!

Yes I love one in the morning, it’s full of vitamins.

Spumante!!!

Just as I started to go through my mental dictionary of Italian words and phrases, this normally doesn’t take too long. A glass of prosecco arrived in front of me and my wife raised an eyebrow.

Better than orange juice

But I ordered freshly squeezed orange juice, didn’t I?

No you ordered Spumante (Prosecco) not Spremuta (freshly squeezed orange juice)

It was still a good way to start a day.

Do I need to tell you about ordering Minced dog (Cane) instead of minced meat (Carne) at the local butcher? The poor woman stood there looking at me with big round eyes and her mouth hanging open, until her husband stepped in and solved the problem by mooing and barking.

Yes moo moo half a kilo of moo moo

I still have to stop and think when I want to say egg or grape, one is uova and the other is uva. At the moment I can’t remember which is which.

But try asking for six grapes at the corner shop, or try explain how you spent the morning collecting eggs so your friend could make some wine.

Uova treading or is it uva?

Speaking of the corner shop, I once asked for five fish pesche instead of five peaches pesce, Maria came back with fish fingers, dried fish, frozen fish and asked me which I wanted, I was a little perplexed we both thought each other was related to the village idiot, while I was stood pointing at some peaches in the corner of the shop with the sign don’t touch!

Another word to be especially careful of is year (anno) it must be pronounced with a double sounding n. Just to be sure, I normally add a couple more n’s for example: annnnnno, otherwise it might come out sounding as ano. How can I politely explain what ano is on my blog? Hmm, may I suggest you go over to google translate and tap ano in. 🤪

Oh let me finish off with my all time favourite.

One Christmas I asked for una bottiglia di prosciutto. Prosciutto is ham and prosecco is fizzy plonk.

I’m sure you guys also know words that have caused you problems, feel free to add them in the comments

It’s official, I’m getting old

It started with a trip to the local supermarket.

After the young girl blipped my wine, cheese and crisps. She asked me if I had my pensioner discount card.

I politely asked her to repeat her question. It sometimes takes two or three attempts for me to translate Italian to English and even then I can make some fantastic mistakes and misunderstandings and confusion follow.

Do I have my pensioner discount card?

I quickly looked over my shoulder to see which old man she was talking to.

Never too old for flip flops

And then today I received this delightful E mail

Don’t need you for another 40+ years

I send them a very polite E mail.

Dear sir,

Thank you for your kind E mail, however the cost of my funeral will be the least of my worries when I die.

May I suggest you contact my wife, Mrs Sensible. She is the worrier in our family.

Kind regards

Pecora (feeling remarkably healthy) Nera

I wonder if they will reply.

On a happier note, at my birthday party last week, we had a barbecue, drank lots of wine, sang and generally had a good time.