Saturday, June 07, 2008


It is a splendid June morning after thunderstorms yesterday, perfect for weeding the cemetery, the dandelions and stinging nettles coming out with their roots intact from the damp earth so easily and filling our wheelbarrow to the brim, blackbirds singing their hearts out, swallows darting about the sky. Daniel, Rom from Romania, is treating the beautiful but long-neglected nineteenth-century wrought iron work, scraping off its rust, then two coats of anti-rust and two coats of enamel. Assunta is still weeding. I have harvested much lavender to join our drying rose petals for pot pourri. Vandana has sewn the bags for these. Soon it will be the hour for the Mass for the Poor at the Badia.
Vandana and their prematurely-born Gabriela are still at Careggi, Gabriela's vbirth weight, 1 kilo 200 grams. A long story. We have made them legal. They never were illegal, being European citizens but have been harassed by the police, why Vandana went into premature labour. Collectively our dream is that Daniel earn the money for building their house on land they already have in Romania. It has a well nearby. They build their houses by making blocks of earth and cement. Roofing materials are difficult to obtain and gypsy roofs are in ill-repair because of lack of materials or money for these. If a gypsy house is not up to standard a Rom is forbidden legal work in Romania. The same in Italy. If a Rom does not have an address which is not a shack (built by himself from thrown-away scrap at the end of a bus line in an open field, costing nothing to others) he is forbidden to work. If he has no work in Italy he risks imprisonment. If he has no work in Romania his family starve, his children cannot go to school, they cannot afford medical care. Why they came here, begging, now no longer allowed. So they are starving also in Italy.
Last night we finished the book Daniel and Vandana are writing, a Vocabulary in four languages, Romany, Romanian, Italian and English, with Daniel's wonderful drawings, a splendid introduction to gypsy life. Then, talking about his drawing of a sheep that we were scanning we spoke of Cimabue discovering Giotto drawing a sheep, so Daniel plunged into a book of Giotto's paintings, next an illuminated Dante, Commedia. This is my dream for this Mediatheca 'Fioretta Mazzei' as we now call our library, that it is open to all, finding the poorest can work at the deepest level in it.
Plus we have been building cradles: Now we have done 10! The first seven already are in use with babies in them in Romania and in England. We will keep one in the library, the other two being for Vandana and her sister Maria, both pregnant at the same time, Maria's baby not yet born.

Daniel Dumitrescu and Vandana Culea making their cradle for their baby

And this is the new cradle:

Hermit of the Holy Family