December 31, 2008

2 Years of "Palazzo Pizzo" & Happy New Year

Today is the last day of the year.
When I was younger I used to write down in my diary all the highlights of the old year, month by month. An act to remember about the time that has passed and to realize how much things I have done - or not done.

This also is the day to think of what the new year might bring and what we are wishing for.

On this special day I want to greet all my readers of this blog:
Without you, your hits and your comments writing would have been much less fun! Thank you for your support!

It is not only a special day because it is the last day of the year. No, today, exactly, two years ago I started this blog by writing my first post. I started it in German language as this is my mother tongue.
But soon I saw that English is the language of blogland - and so I changed it to open it up to more readers.

Next year, 2009, I promise to be back with more posts.

At the moment I am in Venice at my Italian family's house with many family and friends to visit, lunches and dinners. Tonight we are invited to our godchild's family for dinner, so the kids can play and we will sit around a fire place.

I wish you all a happy New Year! Full of health, love and happiness!

The painting I have choosen for this special day is an ink wash painting by Liu Mu represented by Creation Gallery in Beijing. The title is "spring sun and autumn moon". We are all inbetween the sun and the moon, inbetween spring and autumn, some have winter time right now, some have summer time. Happy New Year 2009 !!!

December 17, 2008

Stuttgart: Craftsmen and other Disasters

What is the correct English word for 'Handwerker' (german)? Is it craftsman, builder, worker or tradesman? Anyway, I will call them craftsmen - and this post's title underlines, that this story did not happen in Italy, it happened in Germany.

If you are a bit familiar with my blog, you might know that we are not only renovating our palazzo in Italy, but also our home in Germany. Since we are back from China, we decided that we need to connect another (small) flat to our flat due to space shortage. It is a bit crazy to have an entire palazzo for summer holiday but in real day to day life only one third of the space.

It took a while until we figured out what we would do with the old bathroom of the small flat (which was always rented out). Then it took a while until things were ordered. And last week, Wednesday, was THE big day: the opening of the cement wall (20 cm thick). I was a bit nervous. Like before an operation. The craftsmen were so nice and friendly and sweet and caring about any dirt or dent they would do to my wooden floor. Almost like doctors before an operation.

Everything was well prepared. Other craftsmen had searched the wall for a heatingwater pipe and opened up the wall to show the location of that pipe. Large foil had been stuck to ceiling and walls on both sides of the operation.

Before they started to drill, I went back to my old flat (over the balcony) as it will be terribly loud when they start. I sat back at my desk and started the computer. I was relaxed at that point. All neighbours were informed about the work and the noise. I had decided to stay home during this important operation. And I was happy to have some extra time at the computer, when all in a sudden I see one of the craftsmen running over the balcony towards me with eyes wide open!

He shouted: "WE HIT THE WATER PIPE ! Fast, come, do you know where to turn off the central heat?"

I could not believe my ears.
How can they hit the pipe?
The pipe was visible.
I still shiver writing these lines.
I was so totally unprepared for this disaster.
I said: I don't know. Wait, I need to get my shoes.
And over the balcony down to the basement we run.
Not sure were the central heating room of the apartment building is. We found it right away, but it was dark and I was searching for the light switch, my heart was beating and my tummy felt sick. Here we were standing in front of a dozen of big and small wheels...

The craftsmen closed whatever he could close. But of course there was enough water in the system to fled all my apartment. Luckily we were renovating it entirely and the pavement was screed and not wood or carpet. They had a special vacuum cleaner to suck water as they were drilling and sawing with water. But still the water was spreading out until the last corner of my future bedroom and below the built-in closet.

I was doing many phone calls and one hour later the maintenance company for the heater was showing up and welding the pipe.

However before welding he needed to let out more water of the heating system, that by the way is for 22 flats... and it was snowing outside... when this craftsman was done, the little wheel of the heating meter was not working. He said: you need to wait a little. Maybe 20 minutes. When he left, the 20 minutes were over. Don't worry, he said, wait a little longer. After 1 1/2 hours I called them again. The answer was the same: just wait a bit more. And when I called them at 4pm they said, that their men already went home and they will show up only tomorrow morning at 8am.

I was at the end of my rope / tether. If only my family would have to freeze for one night, this could be bearable, but not 22 apartments with many elderly people. And all my fault. Not only I (or my renovation) produces noise and dust. But also now this disaster. The temperature already started to drop in my flat...

I was crying and begging them to come. But no. And the apartment administration told me that another firm for emergency cannot be called as the system is so complicated. At 7pm our concierge who claimed that he does not know the heating system felt pity with me and went with me in the central heating room. He quickly saw the problem, the guy from the heating company had not filled enough water back into the system. He filled it up - and the little wheels of the meter started to run again! In all flats! Gosh, I could have kissed him! More useful for him, I gave him a good bottle of Italian red wine (and his invoice can be sent to the company who caused the damage, together with the one of the next day, when two more craftsmen were busy aerating the heating system for 4 hours).

The same day, they had continued with the opening of the wall, so the next day it was done and 6 massive stone blocks of almost 200 kilo each were taken out. Of course the elevator the boss of the company was talking about when we had an initial meeting, was not delivered and the craftsmen had to carry the stone blocks down the stairways. And they were not picked up the same day as promised, but the day after. At least my friendly neighbours did not complain. For my tummy I had several schnapps these days as I was not able to eat.

Oh, and why did they hit the pipe? Because they assumed that the pipe runs down straight and they started to drill 2 cm next to it. But nothing is straight in our building, no ceiling, no wall - and not the water pipe for the ceiling heating system we have.

On Friday, the next craftsmen arrived. The floor tilers. They did not arrive as announced between 7.00 am and 7.30 am. They came at 9.00 am. And without the boss who was introduced to our renovation project. When I explained our bathroom plan, I had the impression that they were not much impressed. They were taking the two chairs that were standing around and started their snack time at 9.30 am. While they were not causing any noise, dirt or damage it made me nervous nevertheless as the actual working hour rate here in the South of Germany is around 43, 46 Euro plus 19% VAT !

And this was not all for the week. On Saturday at a Christmas event at our golf club I was in the middle of telling my adventures, when I spotted a man that looked very much like, but this cannot be?, like my floor tiler from yesterday. He did not look at me and I was really not sure, so I decided to wait until Monday when he shows up again. On Monday he smiled and when his colleague was not listening I asked him if we have met on the weekend. Indeed, it was him.
No wonder, my bath is so expensive...

December 10, 2008

update: golden chick on ebay - or how the lady of the palazzo starts to flog the family silver

The auction for my object d'or (I posted yesterday) is now open for bidding here on ebay.

What does it has to do with our renovation project?

Two things:
1) the workers are now - lets say - on winter holiday, ... so nothing much to write about (this post can fill the whole)
2) we have run out of money ... which means - we not only (see 1) sent the workers on winter holiday - but also need some cash.

So why not start to "kill a golden chick" ?!
Next I flog the family silver !!

Don't worry, we will survive - on a high level: with an empty, unlivable palazzo! - pity? - scherzo - the project (and blog!) just will take longer !

Back to my sale, the object d'art:
This shapely modern art sculpture is made in Thailand by a Thai artist. The object is of golden lacquered bronze(?) and black stone (probably black marble) - It is 30 cm high, 25 cm long and 18 cm wide. It is quiet massive and weighs 4.8 kilo. - The black stone pedestal measures 8 cm wide, 9.5 cm long and 10 cm high.
Starting price 39 Euro, shipping worldwide, ends 19.12.08 21:30:00 CET/MEZ.
More details on ebay.

Yes, this will buy ONE more hour work on the palazzo ... (IF after all!)

December 09, 2008

object d'or on ebay

Suzy at Studio Annetta just posted un reve d'or inspired by the latest Architectural Digest (French edition). She writes " stunning is that marble! The bronze ... the gold spheres - one resin, the other gold leaf ...".

And look what I have been up to! My husband just convinced me to put another object d'or on ebay:

This beautiful shapely chicken, golden bronze on black marble, which shape is almost reduced to an egg or is it the other way round? A unique gift for modern art lovers.

We got it from Thailand. It will be on tomorrow - I will update the post with the link when the auction has started, in case someone is interested.

December 01, 2008

Door Doors Doors - part II

Maybe you remember my 1st doors doors doors post when we started to think about how our (three!) entrance doors should look like.

Meanwhile Angelo, my father-in-law (grazie!), has collected impressions of doors. See above or my flickr door set for details. They are all from the area, especially Pizzo and Vibo Valentia with a few exceptions, maybe from Vibo Marina and Tropea.

We are spoilt for choice!

... but here it is:

Our choice: two 'sections' of wood per door wing. While the main door has two wings, the other two side entrances have one door (one wing) only.

The lower part of the main door should have 'nails' (chiodi) like this one:

However the door grip or handle (maniglia) is not decided yet. It will NOT be the one in the 3rd picture.
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