The highlight of the last two weeks?Mmm🤔,my birthday, of course!!!!. And not because I ‘m a ruthless prima donna, but because I am genetically inclined to worship birthdays. Anyone birthday.
I grew up with a woman who is, in fact, a sort of birthdays freak. My mother,aka Nona, remembers anyone’s birthday and religiously calls the birthday boy or girl on the day. If then, they belong to the category of close relative or friend, she will gift them with a present. The present will be promptly delivered on the day of the birthday, and if that it is not possible, then it will be handed a few days in advance. Not too much in advance or else, they can think you want to get it out of your way and absolutely never after the birthday had passed or else they might think you had forgotten.
The same goes for the main festivity like Easter and Christmas.
When still a child, I clearly remember my mum, address book in hand, sitting on the chair beside the console where the telephone was, (in those days there was only the landline and even not cordless), and dialling numbers like there was no tomorrow.
When a bit older, and according to my mother in one of my most rebellious phases, I tried to suggest that maybe she could wait for them to call for once. Superfluous to say that it didn’t go down well!
Despite all her effort to train me, I have never felt l the pressure of the religious occurrences, maybe because I am not religious at all. A thing this one, that I am sure good old Freud could link to my upbringing, but I won’t go deep in this because I have learnt that Nona , (thanks to google translate), regularly reads the blog.
Where her imprinting didn’t fail to stick, instead, is on the Birthdays worship. As for family tradition, even in my house birthdays are sacred, and my clan never had a birthday without candles, balloons, cakes and presents.
Unfortunately, the travelling husband didn’t have the same family imprinting I had, but I trained him well. Still, genetic is unquestionable, and while daughter number two took after me, daughter number one took after the paternal side of the family.
Father and daughter are present last-minute buyers and normally going on a shopping trip the Saturday before my birthday. Something that this year they couldn’t do. I think they thought to be off the hook because of the quarantine but I’ ll be damned if I skip my birthday full pack of birthday celebration and even more damned if I get involved in it. Rule number one of a good birthday is that everything must be a surprise.
So, here I am, actively but discretely reminding them how long deliveries take in lockdown…Hoping that message is clear: I still want my present and my cake and on the day. When I noticed that the stock of wrapping paper I keep in the study has gone, I know the message has been received. Never mind the present is a tin of beans (better if it is something else of course) but it must be a surprise, and it must be nicely wrapped.
Now I only have to be sure that they remember the decorations, and so I leave the basket with the party stuff in the middle of the landing where they can all trip on it.
With a bit of anxiety about what is awaiting me, I got up on the 24Th to find balloons, handmade signs and lovely gifts, handmade and not.
Despite the odds, it was one of my best birthday ever and the first when even Nona had followed the suggestions she was given. Well, not that she could do otherwise considering that no shop is open in Italy and so she had to turn to Amazon. Something in a normal situation unthinkable as a birthday present must be bought only after careful research and some effort. Every gift is carefully planned and thought according to the person that goes to. There are no generic gifts to click on a screen in Nona’s world, or at least there weren’t … until this year when she had to capitulate and buy me a bath tray, with the promise that she will get me something else as soon life will go back to normal.
I, myself, would have thought to ask for a bath tray in a million years, but that was before the self-isolation when I barely had time for a bubbly bath once a year. Now, in this new life, I can bath weekly, switch on the bubble and now even bring with me a glass of wine and sky go.
Now I’m just waiting for the next trip to the supermarket to show off the lovely handbag the traveling husbnad got me. In the meantime I must decide if let the girls clean the windows or polish the silver first. Poor creatures, still so naive to gift me with a voucher booklet for domestic services.
So, yes, quarantine can have bright sides😉.
Ortensia will be back this sunday in the meantime let her alter ego brag about her interview with AllAuthor.
What do you miss the most about your childhood?
The total unawareness of other’s judgement.
When you were growing up what was your dream job? Is any part of that still true?
Writer since I read Little Women when I was around 7.
Do you think holding a degree in History and Philosophy has helped you shape into a writer?
Maybe not directly but for sure it shaped my mind and taught me to look at things in deep and with imagination, that sure it is a plus when you have to shape characters and scenes.
What encouraged you to quit your job and go back to writing?
To be honest, my job was quit before I went seriously back to writing and for practical reasons due to the family, but what brought me out of my shell and made me go back to writing nearly full time was rediscovering, thanks to a diary, how good it felt.
What inspired you to write “Fields Of Lies”? What’s going to surprise people about this book?
Anything around me is an inspiration. Everyday life offers plenty of ideas, you must just listen to them. Fields Of Lies was born after driving every day the same hills I started to wonder what were the stories behind those gated houses in the area and my imagination then took over. I suppose the most surprising thing about Fields Of lies is how close to home it is. It could easily be a real story just a bit fictionalised.
What sort of person is going to love the character of Bernadette in “Fields Of Lies”?
I suppose any average middle-aged woman. Bernadette is real in her feelings and behaviours and so are the rest of the characters. They could be you or your next-door neighbour.
What challenges did you face while writing your book, Black Souls?
The idea behind Black Souls was since the beginning very clear in my mind but when I sit down to plot it I realised it was not so straight forward, practically and so it was a bit of a challenge to structure it but then it wrote itself.
What made you decide to set “Black Souls” in Ireland and Italy?
It wasn’t planned but then I looked at some old pictures from when I was a teen and we were holidaying over summer in this nice town in the Dolomites and I thought…. “that lake screams for murder” and voila’, Lola had to be Italian. I also liked the idea of an Italian detective, to be honest.
Who inspired the character of Shane Flynn in “Fields Of Lies”?
Shane is 100% fictional but there are some details I borrowed from a cousin of mine.
Can you provide an outline on the most effective way to develop a thriller story?
You need a dirty secret, someone who holds it and someone who threatens to expose it, sprinkle everything with some murders here and there and misleading hunts and you have your story.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?
Put my face out there, expose myself and feeling more proud than afraid of doing that.
If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
Who would accept to play me I don’t know but who I would like to do it are Emily Watson, Helena Bohem Carter or Kristin Davis
What do you do when you’re not writing?
When not writing I am a full-time mum of two girls and three dogs so basically I spend my time driving and emptying the laundry basket. Yoga keeps me sane in all this.
When can we expect the next book in The Seacross Mysteries series?
“The Last Witch” is already a work in progress and hopefully by summer.
How has your time with AllAuthor impacted your life and your writing so far?
I will be forever grateful to that fellow author who introduced me to it. It is a great help and a way to connect to a fantastic community of writers and readers, I wish I had more time to spend online.
The last post ended with Ortensia ingenious wife planning g a week of painting for the traveling husband, while she would relax and enjoy the sun and some good book.
Well as they say, never wish to others what you don’t want to be wished to you, in this case, to paint a wall. Maybe it doesn’t say exactly like that but you get the concept. I am pretty sure it is one of the ten commandments too. And well, if it isn’t it should defo be…..you know just to avoid disappointments.
Anyway, back to the story, it turned out that Ireland is full of ingenious wives looking to make their husband helpful, or of ingenious husbands volunteering for outdoor odd jobs and take a break from their kids and brides. I am certain that by the end of this sanitary emergency Ireland will have the most groomed home gardens and the cleanest walls; finding external paint is, in fact, a mission impossible. Most of the hardware shops are closed and those that are still open only accept orders online or by phone, but they are so overwhelmed with demands that they won’t go back to you that easily and the variety of products available is poor. Or so the travelling husband said. He tried three hardware shops and could only reach one that only had black paint left.
“I know, but what can I do? If there is no paint there is no paint!”, he then would say from the couch, in response to my frown. And he really made it sound like it was not his fault. Except of course if he would have bought the paint last May when he first spoke about painting the wall, he would now have it safe and ready to use in the shed, but as every lousy DIY man, he only buys item by item and only when needed. And I won’t even highlight that if he had not only bought the paint last spring but also used it straight away as for initial plan we wouldn’t be here losing our dignity begging hardware shops nationwide for paint.
Unfortunately crying over spilt milk is pointless, but the ruined wall stays. matter of fact. And now that I spent the first week of the Easter break power washing the patio and gardening, drinking my morning coffee and see that awful wall upsets me more than ever.
Thankfully, any ingenious wife worth of that name is ingenious towards herself too.
The second week of the Easter break I promised the girls to make art and craft with them and so why not catch two birds with one stone and make art and craft on the wall?
We had acrylic paint of different colours, we had varnish to seal it, we had brushes and splendid weather, so let’s unleash our creativity.
While the three of us were happy out drawing and painting with great enthusiasm, the husband was looking at us with a grin expressing all his lack of confidence on the possible outcome of the project; and possibly regretting he didn’t try a bit harder on that hardware shop. If he tried at all, as suspiciously enough, that very same day both our neighbours had two big buckets of white paint delivered. Too late anyway as we were unstoppable and once done highly pleased with the result.
The husband instead, was in shock for the surprise: “I really thought it would be ugly you know! Instead, it is very nice. Great job girls.” he said and we decided to focus just on the second half of his sentence as we knew deep down in his heart he intended to make us a compliment.
The rest of the week went in between baking with the girls as promised on top of the art and craft and walking with the husband as he was getting beyond bored.
“Of course you are bored Darling, there is a limit amount of daily internet and tv a man can cope with!!!! Ever heard of cooking or spending some time with your daughters too?”
“Yes, you are right. I just didnt think about it. maybe I can help..or do something with the girls and the dogs” but once again, like with the wall, words and actions stayed unlinked until the divine providence intervened and blessed me with a massively painful ear infection on both my ears. I know its hardly a blessing and it wasn’t the first night that I couldn’t even sleep because of the pain but after I started the medication I was prescribed, the pain eased and I had the excuse to hide and rest in silence for an entire day withiout anybody following me around with any demands.
Three weeks in lockdown and ten days in total lock down and we are all still alive, reasonably in a good mood and not showing our middle fingers behind each other’s back, ….I think!
Truth to be told, a part of the household seems to adapt better than the other. In particular, the male population of the house is starting to show signs of insufferable boredom/crankiness.
Big years german, aka Kurt, has eventually realised that something is going on, and he blames the travelling husband.
In his head, the equation is straightforward: Traveling husband home all day every day=no more beach walks. Since the total lockdown, we have to limit our movements on foot within 2 km from home, and that brings us as far as the field behind our house. I suppose this restriction in his daily walks and the abstinence from seaweeds, explain the dirty looks the dog gives to his master, who has traumatically dropped in his scale of favourite persons. Dirty looks behind which there is only one question: ” When in hell are going back to travel so that SHE(aka Ortensia) can start bringing me back to the beach?.”
On the other side, instead, in the travelling husband ‘s scale of favourite members of the family, the dogs have suddenly jumped up. In his head, in fact, the main interrogative is: “when in hell will this thing be over?”
A question behind which there isn’t a real concern for humanity, but more an urge to leave the house, and nowadays his only chance is the dogs.
Very maliciously, some could think that behind the husband will to walk the dogs, although it is not hunting season, there might be some practical reason like needing some privacy to ring the mistress. Well, fair enough, and yes plausible indeed, even if I think that sharing the house with four women is already enough. But, when the same man who is suddenly so willing to walk the dogs is also the man that in twenty years of marriage never stepped foot with you in a supermarket, and now repeatedly offers to come along, you know there is no mistress there. The same way you also know that there isn’t a newly developed pleasure to share everything with his wife either, but simply a humongous emerging cabin fever. That is what it is! He went from complaining about being always on a plane to missing those flights.
Thank God the traveling husband has an ingenious wife who is now working out the way to transform this distress in something cathartic and useful. For example, the garden wall needs some work, so why not using the few days holidays he already took for next week to paint it? Boom, two pigeons with one stone! The travelling husband will be technically outside the house (no reason to feel cabin fever at all), and at the same time and with a bit of imagination, he can move the brush fluidly like he was surfing in Northern Ireland as it was planned for those days.
Happy Easter, everyone, have a safe one and don’t forget to indulge in chocolate!
Day 10 of this new life all together 24/7. So far so good we are all alive and in one piece. Mainly considering the plumber and the tiler didn’t show up yet, and we are still sharing one shower.
It took a few days to adjust but a routine has now been set. The husband, who doesn’t qualify as a traveling one any longer, took possession of my study that is now officially his man cave to work. I won’t lie, the first few days he was home he really got on my nerves. First he kicked me out of my study, and then he kept coming into the kitchen, where I set my new writing spot , bothering me. He had always hated working from home, he feels isolated he says : “Well honey, get over it ….you are going to feel that way for a long time now!” Obviously lost and in search of those little distractions/ interactions he normally has in the office he kept coming in and out my space to make silly comments. On day three I realized he wasn’t looking for interaction, (after all he didn’t gain his grumpy reputation out of nothing), he was searching for someone to boss around like he normally does in the office, “Wrong thinking honey, this is my reign so,darling, pick up the phone and call some colleague of yours, would you?I’m writing here.” Slowly but surely he got the message and now he diligently enter his “office” at 8:30 am and doesn’t re-emerge untill 7:00 pm, except for lunch.
The girls, in the meantime are busy in their bedrooms doing school work, they have loads of work to do and this make their days less boring and still fully engaged. They are seen for lunch too. So I traded my mum taxi duties for kitchen slavery duties but in the end is still a gain.
As for the world around us, the food shopping panic is over.Well, hard to say if it is really over or if the majority of the population simply doesn’t need food because their pantries are stocked for years to come. Whatever the reason, it really looks like people set in this new lifestyle and try to live as normally as possible ,of course at the right distance. And what is that one thing to do to feel normality? Going to the coffee shop! Except we can’t because they are closed and so we queue for coffee to go….and shout out our business to our friend who is queuing 1 and half meter in front or behind us. When out yesterday to run a couple of errands, I noticed an other queue, that instead startled me. Dozens of persons queuing outside two of the biggest DIY shops and Garden Centers of the country. I see people might have lots of time on their hands now to fix and redecorate their house and garden but still there was something odd. First of all the majority of the customers were men, or to be precise dads along with their kids….and there it got me: Mother’s Day. Those were desperate fathers looking for a last minute Mother’s Day present as the non essential shops are all closed.
I must confess I started to panic a little when the husband and daughters, in all the secrecy they could manage, left the house together before I got up this morning…😱last minutes Mother’s Day present for me too? “ I got trapped in this emergency thingy and your present might not be the best but your card is lovely,” the words of daughter’s number one started to resonate in my head and so I prepared myself to unwrap a tin of paint or a bag of compost . What a relief when beside my coffee I saw a flat something nicely wrapped in the most clumsy way like only daughter number two could have done. The early morning trip out was due to get me cakes and my present was a nice fabric handmade picture frame, framing a water color paint….that explain the colorful splashes I kept finding on their clothes for the last week and the noise of sewing machine coming from the attic😀
Happy Mother s Day To Whoever Is Out There🎉💗
Sabina Gabrielli Carrara’s thriller Black Souls welcomes readers to both Ireland and Italy, but you don’t have to live there to enjoy her dark …BOOK REVIEW: Black Souls An adventure across cultures
The rumours that were circulating for a few days had been confirmed on Thursday. The Taoiseach spoke to the Nation to announce the closure of the school, to encourage to work from home wherever possible and to ban mass gatherings.
Simple words that had indeed the power to create immediate panic and spread the fear; but while Americans are afraid that the virus will develop in a spree of diarrhoea, Irish are scared of an other famine.
Yes because this is the only explanation to make sense of the assault to the supermarkets.
Myself and daughter number two, who very naively went to the supermarket just for bread and milk as we would have normally done, were presented with an apocalyptic scenery. Empty shelves and women of all ages fighting for the lats trolley left. And when I say “fighting”, I don’t mean it metaphorically.😬
“There can be only one”, like in Highlander. And that one would then frantically running from aisle to aisle wielding its trolley, (instead of its swords), and filling it with anything edible or that said “antibacterial” on the label.
Most of those who survived the war of the supermarkets, that very same evening, went out to have a damn good pint all squeezed up in a crowded pub, inhaling and spreading potential viruses. But at that point, it was not a big deal, because at home, they had plenty of sanitizers to wash their hands and enough food to be quarantined for years.
Once daughter two and I made it out of the supermarket and in one peace, probably thanks to the fact that we didnt even look remotely at the trolleys, we realized that before the pub and after the supermarket, all the people drove home to store their shopping. The town Main Street was all stuck, and the many traffic lights didn’t help. Eventually, we reached the last one, before daughter number one ‘s school. The poor pet was waiting for nearly half an hour by now. I rung her to say we were nearly there, and while on the phone, two women crossing the road from the opposite direction caught my attention. Their walk was confident, and they looked like they were aiming at my car. I gave them a better look in case it was someone I knew, but it wasn’t. Maybe I didnt realized it but I took last carton of milk and they saw me and now they want it. I instinctively checked for the car doors to be locked.
Relief arrived when I see them stop by the car in front of me.
They were friends of the lady occupant and they start chatting, and chatting, and chatting, even after the traffic light became green, and so it turned back red and we were still there.
My first reaction was to beep the horn and swear to the fecking woman😡, but then I preferred to not attract attention. After all, my Italian accent is hard to disguise, and all the cases of Kodiv19 we have in Ireland are related to Italy; definitely better to keep a low profile. I asked daughter number two to cover her ears, and so I only sworn without beeping.
When the traffic light went green again, I sprinted and overtook the car in front me, that didn’t even dreamt to move. I wonder what the we’re chatting about🤔,obviously something extremely juicy!
Thirty-two minutes later, we reached daughter number one’s school.
And that was only Thursday the 12th……. That night I barely slept thinking what could have happened the following day: Friday the 13th.😱
Also, I could not ignore the thought that maybe I was too relaxed. I should perhaps go to panic shopping too.
And so I did: 5 boxes of tiles, adhesive, grout, trim, paint, brushes and to not look selfish and not enough motherly one big pack of nappies for Clara.
Stay safe my friends and next post you ‘ll find out more.