You might think he's doing something else. But in reality, he's learning how to sit/stay, and not doing a very good job of it (he eventually learned how to do so beautifully ... sort of ).

mercoledì 30 marzo 2011

Don't fence me in

The Scallion was very busy over the weekend. He put up fencing to protect the flower beds on our terrace. It will certainly keep the Puppers out of it. It will also keep us out of it, as the fencing is well over five feet tall. Too tall to jump over.

“Many pet owners find it extremely difficult to maintain a garden and a good relationship with the family dog,” is a trenchant observation from the very helpful Multiply that by six.

Do please note the flowering narcissi, and the flowering pear tree. Do note the safely-fenced in Banks rose. You can’t see the holes-to-China excavations conducted by the Puppers in previous research but trust me, they’re there. Today’s plan involves seeding lettuces, arugula, and chervil in pots on steps leading into the garden. Unfortunately, I’ll have to take the long route to get there, since the gate that leads to it is – you guessed it – fenced in.

Riccardo, our young and able dog whisperer, visits us every Saturday. He teaches us to teach them. One of his instructions is to socialize these puppies. Get them used to street noise and cars. Get them used to other people.

Today’s socialization project involves a pupper picked at random, who will accompany me to our little country bar. We took Lizzie a couple of Sundays back. The bar was crammed with local youths. Lizzie walked in, looked around, and promptly evacuated in a big way. Naturally, this caused all the teenage girls to hoot with laughter. (No, those girls don't do that: they have it laser'd out.)

Later, towards the end of our drink, a teenage boy came up to say hello to Lizzie, and she promptly peed out of happiness? Joy? Fear?

Lizzie will not be accompanying me to the bar today.

From Tillie’s sadly-unpublished memoirs: “Snacks and apertivo fare are again one of my favorite eating pastimes in Italy. The whole idea of “taking an apertivo,” as it were, is quite civilized. The aperitivo, which we crassly call “cocktails” in the United States, is taken before a meal, including both lunch and dinner. Italians usually have a glass of prosecco (sparkling Italian white wine) or a mixed drink. Many bars offer their own in-house specialties, and many of the bars are exceptionally creative. As I noted earlier, I don’t really drink except for that occasional finger-licking Veuve Clicquot moment. …

We walk through Piazza d’Azeglio which, at this time of the day, is usually teeming with canines accompanied by their people, little old Italian ladies sitting on a park benches catching up on the events (or non-events) of the day; and shrieking children in the playground while their parents sit and watch them carefully from the benches. Sometimes I run into friends, but I usually don’t stick around to sniff as something more important looms on the horizon: FOOD.

We proceed down those narrow twisting streets, and I shake sometimes as shopkeepers are often in the process of closing down shop for the day. This means pulling down metal doors that make screeching noises. For me, it is the canine equivalent of the human “nails on the blackboard” feeling. It is really one of the most unpleasurable sounds in the world.”

Tillie loved going for aperitivi -- practically up 'til the moment she died.

Pup Picked at Random will not experience any shopkeepers pulling down their metal grates, since they’re really aren’t any shops here where we live. Pup will, however, experience the raucous cries from the elementary school, and will have to endure car noise, and perhaps meet another dog or two (Penelope, a local pug, is often at the bar).

The Negroni is a distinctively Florentine apertivo, its creation credited to one Count Camillo Negroni, who apparently liked to drink this Italian equivalent of a double martini on via Tornabuoni beginning around 1919. (Efforts to -- ahem -- dig up more information about this genius came to naught.) Accounts differ, however, about the bar: was it Caffe Casoni? Was it Giacosa? Some folks from Forte dei Marmi stress it was invented there. (Many years ago, Giacosa closed (it’s since re-opened, but Roberto Cavalli has added his name to it) for seemingly good. They offered free negronis to all and sundry. It was quite a fest.)

To make a negroni, you need an old fashioned glass, lots of ice cubes, and equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari soda. Add a slice or two of orange, and sip … slowly. Then have another.

My late antiquarian friend Robi drank negronis at evening aperitivo time. He drank this, instead, at lunch time: In a long-drink glass, throw in a couple of ice cubes, and fill the glass 2/3 full with Bitter Campari. Add a generous pour of white wine, and drink. It probably has another name, but we call it the Robi, in his honor. It makes me think of him and his fine spirit whenever we drink them, which is often.

As it turned out, Pup Picked Out at Random was Lizzie. Her comportment was worthy of Georgia, a golden retriever who died many, many years ago but who maintains, as always and ever, the title of Mistress of Deportment.


The Diggers, according to, "were an English group of Protestant agrarian communists, begun by Gerrard Winstanley as True Levellers in 1649, who became known as Diggers due to their activities."

2 commenti:

  1. Being an adorer of Negronis, whatever their provenance, makes me think of having one with you someday soon--in honor of Tillie, of course!

  2. Oh, E! Were that we were geographically proximate tonight at aperitivo time! We could celebrate this glorious weather, and toast to Tillie and to Waldo.