Monthly Archives: September 2010

Zigging and zagging to find my way home

I’ll continue with my hunt for the blues bar I found last year. At my flat, there is actually a phone book. Remember that old-fashioned thing we used to use before the Internet? Well, I looked up blues and found the Blusbar (pronounced “blues bar”) right near me. Again, I was pleased that my neighborhood was so rich. Here is a picture.

I went inside and asked if they had blues music. She looked at me, smiled, and said no, they just used “blus”  in the name.

I decided to hunt down the blues bar I found in Campo San Stin last year. It was fun to recognize places I saw last year. In fact, here is a picture of a place where I sat down and painted the scene last year. And as I was finishing the painting, an older couple came by and had a picnic on the steps. He was taking a picture of her, so I offered to take a picture of them both. They said they had just gotten married.

I found the campo (square) , saw the same scene of parents picking up their children after school having snacks at the bar, and the campo filled with children running around, yelling. But instead of my beloved blues bar, it now has another name and they play lots of music, just not the blues. Here is a picture of the new awning.

The man in the picture is having an afternoon “spritz.” People have them to stimulate their appetites. I think I mentioned this when I went out for dinner with Rachel in Bologna. I have tried many different kinds and my favorite is with Aperol. I’m hoping this is available in California.

Back to the blues quest. I have to give it up in Venice, but I know that there is a blues jam every Tuesday night right around the corner from the place I stayed in Florence last year and I have already arranged with my friend, Winsi, from last year to go on the Tuesday night I will be there. He called last week and said he joined the jam last week and played and sang reggae music. He promised he would sing and play the night we go.

I left the old blues bar and continued walking around the San Polo district. It’s funny how generally similar, but specifically different each district and each campo, or square are. Because my neighborhood has a fairly wide main street with lots of stores, there is a constant parade of people on it, day or night. The area of the San Polo district that I went on was much different. There were lots of people, but not in a “parade.” Here is a scene that gave me such a pleasant and relaxing feeling.

I like the shape and color of the bridge, and the red building and green awning. There was an afternoon stirring, but it was different from the one on the Stada Nova.

I came upon the train station, but from the other side of the canal. I thought about how calm it was from my side, and how frantic it is when you are on the other side, just arriving and trying to figure out where you want to go and what you have to do.

I decided to try to walk all along the edge of the canal to my stop. I was across from the Ferrovia (railway) stop and I wanted to get to Ca D’Oro. My plan was to get to the place across from Ca D’Oro where I could take a traghetto across. This is a gondola used to carry 14 people across the Grand Canal. It only costs half a euro. I would walk for a bit, then come to a dead end. I took the advice given to me last year by a young woman who was working as an intern at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Besides turning me on to Grom, my favorite gelato place, she said to zig and zag where you have to, but to always keep the general direction you want in mind. So what follows are some things I saw along the way.

I saw an old door that I liked:

And some colorful wrought iron over a window next to a covered walkway:

I wasn’t sure how this tree was attached.

Someone along this street decided on a colorful balcony that didn’t need watering.

This street name made my think I was suddenly in a science fiction movie.


 During the course of this afternoon’s walk, I found two things I had been wanting/needing, but not actually searching for. I think if I had purposefully set out to find them, I woud not have been so successful. A life lesson? Perhaps.

The first was a copper colored ring. Before I left, I actually looked in Macy’s. What was I thinking? My best rings come from craft fairs and interesting shops. My watch, earrings, and shoes all have copper highlights. I found a ring made of Murano glass in the shape of an oval mountain, with a spiral of various shades of copper and brown. I was dubious about the authenticity of the Murano glass, but Rachel verified it for me when she came this past weekend.

And the second thing was a teflon spatula for my morning fried eggs. My kitchen has most things I need, but not a spatula. Wooden spoons just don’t do the trick. On this strange, kind of dark and winding street, I came upon a kitchen utensil store. Way out of the way, but I found it.

This street also took me past the movie theatre that Elisa was trying to tell me about, so now when I go, I won’t have to search for it.

I ended up at the stop just before mine, and it was 7:30 pm and starting to get dark. I decided to take the vaporetto and continue the zigging and zagging another day one stop down the canal.



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Finding like-minded people

I thought I was pretty smart yesterday. I saw that a certain self-serve restaurant was filled with workmen eating, so I thought I had found a treasure! I ate there and the food was good, especially the lasagne, but today I found out the truth. I was trying to tell my friend Anna, in Italian, about my find. We passed it on the way to visit her sister in a central government office. She laughed and said that workers and anyone who works over 7 hours a day, even 15 minutes, gets meal tickets that can be used at restaurants or stores to buy food. So then I said that it STILL must be good, for all of them to eat there. She said yes, it might be, but there is a question of which restaurants accept the tickets and where these guys work. I’ll still go back because I liked having a choice. Here is what I had:

It hit me yesterday how often you see people stopped, consulting their maps. Literally every few steps. I am reminded of being in Greece, squinting at the street signs in Greek, trying to match that up with maps with English characters, with Greeks passing by hollering out the names of the street, so we’d have a fighting chance of locating ourselves. Often when I am just walking, people ask me for help. And it’s always nice when I can actually do that. But mostly they don’t see that a few steps later, I pull my map out and am doing the same thing!

A few days ago I stopped along a canal to eat lunch, and was engaged in conversation with first the table to the left and later the table to the right. The first was a young couple from France. He was a cook, so he was more difficult to please as far as food. We communicated in a mixture of French, Spanish, Italian, and English. They were so sweet. They seemed to enjoy their meal. I did.

Here is a picture of them and then one they offered to take of me:

When they left, the person at the table to my right started talking with the waiter. I had never heard the language they were speaking and I looked at them with a question on my face. They said they were speaking Albanian. The guy at the table said they met at an Albanian group in Venice. He has various businesses selling Murano glass. He learns languages easily and told me that if you want to learn a language, you can. Period. He told me about a neighbor of his who is an American artist here who has learned quickly to speak and he told me where to find his studio. He said he likes to talk to him because it is interesting to hear his American accent.

Later that afternoon I was sitting near the Rialto Bridge along some steps taking the video some of you have seen on Facebook. A woman asked if I had GPS on my iPhone. She said she had met some people who bought an Italian SIM card for their iPhone and then always had Internet with them. I have tried in vain to find out about this. We found so many things in common as we talked. She is from New Zealand and is on a 5 month trip. Her daughter is in London, so she uses that as her base. She is an artist. She has taken the Buddhist religion and told me about three important Buddhist words: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, which means like-minded people. I like that term and I think that this trip is bringing me many of those. We decided to have a picnic dinner together at my flat. She had bought bread, olives, and cheese. I had the same, plus a few more goodies. Here is a picture of her. Her name is Stefani, but she is calling herself “Stefania” while she is here.

Here is a picture she took of me.

I’m going out now to try to find the blues cafe I found last year that actually has blues music. This time I will try to pin them down better with WHEN there will be blues music.


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A different way of doing things

Today I want to share with you all the things I’ve been collecting in my head and camera that show a different way of doing things. I may have mentioned some of these things in earlier posts.

The day I arrived in Bologna, I saw the way they announce births there. I haven’t seen it in any other city. Perhaps there is a section in the newspaper too. I didn’t check, but I liked it. My friend, Rachel, said the apartment across from her has had their ribbon up now for quite some time.

Walking around Venice, I have seen some notices posted announcing deaths. Again, perhaps there is an obituary section in the newspaper, but this is a way of announcing in the neighborhood. I saw an office and a word that looked something like “funeral” and I went closer. This is what it was:

Here is a closeup:

The questions that entered my mind were 1) When did they take those pictures? 2) Is there a cross on each notice? 3) What about Jews and Muslims who die here, what do they have on their notices?

And if you are a student who lives in Bologna and want to advertise, this is a popular method. Especially for sharing or renting rooms.

The day I arrived in Venice, when I was being shown the flat, I asked where the refrigerator was when we were in the kitchen.


This next thing I have seen in each of the three places I’ve stayed so far. The dish drying rack is above the sink. Sometimes inside a cupboard, and sometimes not. In Bologna, it was where dishes were stored.

I noticed a strange looking toaster the first day.

It’s not a pop-up toaster. You lift out the two bread-holders, squeeze them open, insert the bread, put them in the toaster, and set the timer to the amount of time you want. When the buzzer sounds, you lift the holders, squeeze, and the toast falls out.

I couldn’t find the outlet so I asked Elisa who said it was to the right side of the stove. I looked in vain on the right side of the burners and oven. Several days later I realized she meant the stove that creates hot water. It is the only outlet in the kitchen. Here is a picture:

I asked Elisa the first day about garbage collection. I had to get out my pad of paper to take notes. Garbage is picked up in plastic bags, but not special garbage bags, every day except Sunday. You must put the bags outside the front door between 7 and 8 am. You can’t leave them there overnight because of rats. Paper is left outside in bags on Tuesdays and Fridays and glass and plastic bottles on Wednesday and Saturday. Yesterday I was on the terrace and I heard an unfamiliar noise. I looked down and saw the paper collection taking place:

A neighbor on one of the lower floors had a window shutter open in the picture above.

Everything that comes into houses and shops in Venice arrives by boat and is carried to its destination. Here is a common sight.

And another:

Lots of muscular men, young and old, working like this on the streets and in boats. There is a construction site near my flat that I can see from the terrace. The staging area seems to be a traveling boat. Also, you can see in the picture that the construction site is covered in a white plastic kind of material. This is my friend Dave’s favorite material to use at Burning Man to keep the sun off his RV and to give shade. So the plastic here performs the function of hiding the “unsightly” mess of building and to protect the workers from sun. In this picture, the building is not so high. In Piazza San Marco, the same material is hung on one of the huge buildings.

Speaking of muscular men, young and old, I see gondoliers every day in “my” canal. I kept hearing a certain shouting sound the first week and vaguely wondered what it was. Then I read somewhere that when they come to a blind turn they shout something that sounds like “oy-eeee,” to warn boats that might be coming. Now I use that sound to trigger me to jump up from the terrace to have a look. People often look up and wave. They are so pleased to be IN the gondola and I am so pleased to be SEEING the gondola from my terrace.

Here is  picture of this mutual recognition, but taken near La Fenice:

One thing I never wondered about until I came face to face with it was how and where all the boats get fuel. NOT the gondolas. That’s obvious! Here is what I found right near my flat.

And the prices. I think I remember in an earlier post working out the dollar equivalents.

Now here are a few signs and sights I thought were interesting.

It seems that there is a problem with people eating in places where they are not wanted. I think the problem is that there are not enough chairs or places where people can sit who are not eating in restaurants. Whenever you see a chair and approach it, you see that it is connected to a nearby restaurant. Here is one of my favorite signs:

If you were going to abbreviate “Centrale” as in “Bologna Centrale Train Station,” how would you spell it? Here is what I found:

When I used to sell my bustiers at crafts fairs (, it was always a problem if the sale lasted more than one day. We spent a lot of time trying to close up the tent. Here is a quick and dirty solution that seems to work at an antique fair I saw at closing time:

One day I saw this in the window of a shop and had to take a picture to send my friend Susan, who lives in Huntington Beach.

I was having lunch one day last week next to a canal (it seems to be my favorite place to eat) when I heard a loud thump. I looked over and saw a woman who had landed on the pavement from a motor boat. She was later joined by a guy. They parked the boat pretty far away from the pavement. I waited to see how they would get back on the boat, but was in conversation and missed it! I only knew they were leaving by the thump. Here they are making their getaway.

I was at the Zattere late one afternoon having a gelato when I saw a hulking huge cruise ship slowly making its way along the water. I was invited to sit down at a table with two American women who were also entranced with the scene. People on the shore were waving to them, but they were quite still. Thousands of them. Watching us like we were in a zoo. It was quite chilling.

And here’s the last thing, I promise. Two different gondoliers taking a break.

At the end of “my” canal, two gondolas were parked, and one guy seemed to be tagged as the one who stayed behind to guard the boats.

Look quickly at the two gondolas. Aren’t you reminded of a large pair of shoes?

With that, I’m saying goodbye for now.


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The island of Burano

It was a bright and sunny day the next day, so I didn’t hang around to have lunch at Luigi’s bar. Instead, I took the vaporetto to the island of Burano, which is famous for the brightly colored houses and for lace-making. (All the guides say to be careful to buy the real thing, not cheap copies made elsewhere.) And there was going to be the last regatta of the season, so I knew there would be good food at big tables offered by local people. I was right.

The boat only leaves Venice once an hour and I was lucky to only have to wait a few minutes. I do have a schedule, but it was not easy to figure out what time it would come to my particular stop. I even got a seat. Lots of people were making a day of it for lunch and the regatta. Not only visitors. It felt very festive.

I arrived and walked around to get the feel of the island. All of us with cameras were stopped in our tracks at the houses. Here are some that caught my eye.

The curtain over the door above is typical. Maybe it’s because there are so many visitors walking by their narrow streets and they want privacy. Maybe the curtains keep the flies out. They usually just added to the delightful colors.

Here is one of my favorites.

Here are a few more.

I noticed that people make use of all parts of their houses. Clothes are hung outside of windows. Some lucky people had courtyards where they could hang things like sheets. Garbage was hung in bags on windows in front. Here in Venice, garbage is left in bags in front of houses for early morning pickups (between 7 and 8). Needless to say, I put my garbage in the public bag on the bridge near me when I hit the street, which is later than 8 am.

Since it had rained the day before, I saw shoes hung on the windows to dry. Here are some pictures.

I thought this was an interesting street name and alley:

 Not all the houses were done up like the ones above. But the houses like the one below must be abandoned for some reason or another.

Here is what I was talking about when I described the probable lunch treats in store. There were two areas that I saw. The first one was sold out when I went, but here they are in the piazza in the last few minutes.

When I saw that I had missed out, I returned to the area near the vaporetto stop where I was able to get a very full plate of mixed fried fish, polenta, and sparkling water for 12 euro, a bargain.

And here is my lunch.

I saw a woman sitting outside making lace. Here is a picture.

I had some watermelon gelato during my wanderings that tasted like the real thing. I know. It shouldn’t always be so surprising to me.

I mentioned the brown sweater shrug I’m making before. It requires a pin or something to close it, so I’ve been on an informal quest to find something. I also wear a scarf almost every day that has the full color palate of the clothes I am wearing. As I was looking in the shops off the main track in Burano, I found an interesting one with felt beads and glass beads of different colors. Here is their website: I found a pin that works perfectly for my scarf and also for the sweater. Here is the pin I bought. It’s hard to see, but the colors are copper, green, and sand.

I had a nice conversation with the people who worked in the shop. The grandmother was sitting in the corner and really perked up when she saw the pin on the scarf. She said she thought it brought out the colors of the scarf and the pin. Her granddaughter helped me and said her daughter was asleep. Then she introduced me to her mother and father, who were also in the  shop. I asked if she lived in Burano and she said yes. There are schools there at all levels, but she had to take the vaporetto to Venice to go the university. The ride is almost an hour. I guess I’d rather ride a boat than sit in traffic. I asked about the colors of the houses and she said that they are to define the property boundaries. And she said the choice of color is personal. She could think of no other town in Italy that was like this. Other towns have colorful buildings, like Camogli, but they were all in similar tones of brown, burnt orange, yellow, etc.

While watching the regatta I heard the couple near me speaking English. I asked if they understood how it worked, since I didn’t see anything that looked like a race at first, but they were giving out prizes. It was a couple from Australia named Ahmed and Maria. He was of Turkish descent. They had come from Australia and leased a brand new car to drive all over Europe. Their trip was for 90 days. They were going to Barcelona too, but we weren’t going to be there at the same time. They encouraged me to come to Australia.

And here is a picture of the regatta that we were all waiting for. If you enlarge the picture, you can see the different colored boats with matching scarves on each of the two people. And a matching motorboat to help them. I saw pink, lavendar, red, blue, and orange. A colorful regatta for a colorful town.


I was ready to leave before the regatta was over and the vaporetto couldn’t come to the stop because of all the boats. People who wanted to leave were told to walk to the nearby island (there’s a bridge) to catch a boat. Well, I was not the only one who wanted to leave. We waited outside the entry dock and slowly, very slowly, pushed our way in. Three boats went by and left us still standing there. The crowd kept growing. And pushing. We finally understood that they had to go beyond us and turn around to head back. When one finally stopped, even though there was another one following, everyone crowded into the boat like one large many-legged creature. I was never moved along with so little effort. I actually got a seat. I felt grateful for a full day.


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A social afternoon: concert and conversation

It rained all day, but there was no acqua alta. I studied Italian and straightened the flat  and Anna came over in the afternoon for our lesson exchange. It would be easier if I didn’t want to get to know her. I have questions and I don’t know how to ask them in Italian. But we are making progress AND getting to know each other. I’m trying to decide if I should also take some classes.

During this week we became Facebook friends. She wrote one night to say that she saw that her niece and I had a mutual friend! I have a friend who is was a rabbi at the Jewish organization Hillel, at USC, where Gabriana went to school. I met him there, but he was also at the Jewish theme camp at Burning Man one year and we spent a very funny afternoon together at an event called “Jews wanderng the desert.” Her niece was a film student at USC, and because she is Jewish, met my friend at Hillel. 

She saw that my boots were sopping wet inside and that I was wearing other shoes that would not be good to wear in the rain. She had the solution. We put rolled up newspaper inside each boot to absorb the water. After an hour they were fine. Great advice from someone who knows wet shoes and rain!

Today I was finally able to wear my warm jacket and fleece hat. The non-Venetians were all wrapped up in warm jackets, while the people who live here just added umbrellas to their ordinary September clothes. Anna’s umbrella is a long one, but has a retractable plastic cover over it. It stays up at the top when the umbrella is open, but pulls down over the umbrella when it is closed. It holds all the water so it doesn’t get all over everything, and she can keep it with her instead of putting it in the lobby with all the other umbrellas. Very clever.

We met Elisa and a couple named Salvadore and Annalisa at 5:30 for a contemporary music concert at the same palace where we went last week, Palazzo Albrizzi. This time it was a trio from London playing mostly music written by people they know.

Something funny happened when they were being introduced. The woman in charge started speaking (in Italian) and someone’s cell phone rang. Wherever I have been in the past, when this happens, either a joke is made or it is not mentioned. I didn’t understand everything, but I think the woman speaking said something about the cell phone. Then it rang again!!! This time I did understand. Even in Italian. She raised her voice and scolded and said that when we entered the salon we should have turned off our cell phones and that it was disrespectful to her and to the musicians. It was a minor hisssy fit. I looked at Anna and she gave me a look like we were kids in class and had just gotten in trouble. I had to look away so I wouldn’t laugh.

After the concert we went walking to a bar in our neighborhood and each ordered a spritz. They also served little olives and sandwiches and potato chips. I found out that Annalisa knew Elisa and Anna in school. I asked if she also knew Grazia, my hostess from Camogli. They knew each other, some of them, since age 11.

The conversation was interesting, sometimes in English, but mostly in Italian. Annalisa and Salvadore used to teach English. Strong opinions were shared about the music. I felt like I was watching a tennis match back and forth. I didn’t understand all the words, but I enjoyed the music of the language. I told them how my neighbors were really watching my house and that when Gabriana was there this week in a different car, she had all sorts of people coming by to see who she was. We talked about how nice this was to have neighbors who cared. Then Anna, who lives in an apartment building with many flats, said that all her neighbors know more about her than she does! Salvadore talked about being  from Sicily, and that now when he goes home, he feels like and is treated like a foreigner. He has been in Venice for a long time.

We said goodbye to Annalisa and Salvadore and went to a local cinema to buy a yearly cinema club pass for 30 euro. Elisa is leaving on a trip tomorrow for Morocco and wanted me to be able to use the pass to see films for free while I am here. Various foreign films are shown each week. I was excited to see that in a few weeks there is going to be a tour of the places where Pane e Tulipan was filmed. This is one of the first films I saw about Venice. Then after the tour there are free showings of the film. It will be my third time to see it. I think it will be fun to see it here, in Venice, and fresh from visiting the film locations.

Then on the way home, after I left everyone, I stopped at my neighborhood bar and saw Luigi, the guy who works there. I got a small fish snack. He looks just like a young John Travolta. I asked about a certain snack and he said they would have it for lunch tomorrow. “A domani!” (See you tomorrow!) I love how my life is just flowing with suggestions.


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Kol Nidre service in Venice

I just got home from Kol Nidre services at the Sephardic orthodox shul in Venice. It was raining on the way and raining on the way home and I got very wet, but almost the minute I got into the flat, it started really pouring. I’m afraid we are going to have acqua alta tomorrow, when the canals flood and there is water on all the streets. There are some strange orange “boots” in the flat that look more like plastic bags with “feet.”I have heard that a siren goes off to warn of the acqua alta. I haven’t heard it yet.  Some of the steps on the bridges I had to cross on the way home were flooded. My shoes and socks were soaked.

When I went there on Monday to give them my documentation, I thought I understood that I couldn’t carry anything to the synagogue. So I carefully put everything into the pockets of my special REI traveller’s skirt. And of course, I didn’t carry an umbrella. When I got there, I was probably the only woman NOT carrying something.

There were two lines waiting to get in when I arrived. I went to the one nearest me and asked why there were two lines. I was told that the other one was for foreigners. So I went over and immediately a friendly couple from Boston, Emmie and Moose (Maurice) shared their umbrella with me. They had literally just arrived in Venice and came right to the service. I was worried that they wouldn’t get in, but they did. They had even left their passports in their hotel. They also just wanted to hear the Kol Nidre prayer. But on our way in the officials told us that for security reasons we had to stay for the whole service, which they said was about 1.5 hours.

Both the women and men sat upstairs, but on opposite sides of the sanctuary. There was a row of men’s seats in front of the women, and I saw a crying baby handed over to the man on the other side of the partition once during the service.

The rabbi and the other men officiating the service were on a raised platform  (called the bimah), so we could see them while sitting down. But there was a cut-out wooden screen with designs so we couldn’t see across to the men. There were little holes in the design and every now and then you could see a bit of someone’s face on the other side.

 I did get to hear the Kol Nidre prayer, but the rabbi just sort of said it without the tune I am used to. Also, at one point they all walked across to the other side of the sanctuary and took out 7 Torahs and brought them back to the other side. I had never seen so many at one time and it was a bit noisy with all the jangling of the metal parts on the front of each Torah.

I enjoyed the service, but not many prayers were recognizable to me and, in any case, the woman didn’t participate. A few rebel women did at first, but then seemed to stop. When I knew a prayer, I said it quietly to myself. At one point when we were quiet, we could hear the prayers from a neighboring, competing synagogue. It was weird having all the synagogues together like that. I just realized that I didn’t mention that all the synagogues are in the Jewish Ghetto part of Venice, in the sestiere, or district Cannaregio. I live in this neighborhood and the studio I visited earlier in the day is there too.

I saw a bunch of little boys, who seemed to have the freedom to run around and get on the bimah. They even participated a bit in the service. I saw only one little girl at the services and she sat quietly with her mother.

I sat with Emmy and I warned her when we went in to choose seats with no names on them. The names are on engraved plates, screwed down to the seat or little lecturn in front of each seat. We sat in the last row, which turned out to be a mistake. There was a constant parade of latecomers who had to kiss and greet each other on the way in. We were invisible. No one greeted us. At one point a very serious young woman came over to us and moved us into another row because she said there were too many people in the back row. No one else was moved.

The service went on for longer than 1.5 hours and people started to leave. We did too after 2 hours. I walked with the couple from Boston under their umbrella with them until we had to go in different directions. Then I hurried home under my shawl.


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A morning of nice coincidences and pleasant surprises

This morning I went to see Elisa, the woman I met at the street project in Bologna last week, in Venice. On the way I saw a dog on a balcony I couldn’t resist. Something about the sturdy dog and study balcony and crisp plants.

She was here working for an artist, Kishi Nelson Takahiro. It was nice to see her. She showed me the pictures she had taken of all of us at the street project last Friday night in Bologna. She’ll send them to me and I will add them to the blog.

As soon as I saw Kishi’s work, I recognized it from my walk on Monday afternoon on my back way home from the synagogue when the stores were closed. I had intended to return for a closer look. So here I was getting my unexpected closer look. I bought the print I saw in the window and Kishi signed it again for me. I love his style of drawing. Here is a link to his website that he said will be developed more soon.

He has been in Italy for about 20 years. He asked me about my life. Elisa laughed and said “I was born…,” so I finished the sentence and said “in San Francisco on October 1 at 9:03 a.m. Then I said that every year after I wasn’t living at home anymore my mother would call me at that exact time to wish me a happy birthday and I said I did the same for my daughter. I said that the day of our children’s birth is just as important a day for us. That’s when he showed me a picture of his wife and 3 children. I asked him if men were allowed in the delivery room in Italy and he said yes and that he thought it was so important. He shared his feelings about those days.

As we were talking I asked him about the system of addresses in Venice, a big mystery for me. Last night the email I got from Elisa said I should come and visit her at Cannagegio 3232A. I was baffled. How would I find that? I also had seen the address of an artist who carves things like shoes and shirts out of wood and I got a similar address. At last I had someone who could explain it to me. He said that each district or sestiere in Venice has addresses that start with a certain number and continue until the end. The houses are numbered in order going up one side of the street and continuing on the other side. No number is repeated in a sestiere, but you will find the same number in another district. Street names seem to be irrelevant. I guess this makes things easier for the people who sort and deliver mail. Their path is set and they have a certain number of addresses to cover. That is why you don’t see odd numbers on one side of the street and even numbers on the other, and why the numbers on one side of the street may be completely different from the ones on the other side. When new places are added, they add an A, B, or C to the address and just add it in. Kishi said there are maps that show the numbering ranges in the districts so you don’t have to walk everywhere to find the address you want. It will show a certain part in a color with the numbers in that area.

I found Elisa by putting the address in Google maps. Kishi pointed out that this isn’t always right. But it worked for me and now I have a little better sense and feeling about addresses.

I left them to their collaboration on a new book he is working on and went to find a store I had read about that had good appetizers to serve to visitors. On Saturday before the concert, Anna and Elisa (my landlady) are coming over and I wanted to get ascolane (a certain kind of olives) and prosecco. It happened also to be in the area. I came upon a very lively street. I couldn’t find the certain store, but ended up wandering into another that I had read about. I bought all kinds of treats. I keep forgetting how hard it is to CARRY home groceries, especially if there are liquids involved. I wish I had my Bed, Bath Beyond cart here.

Before I wandered into Rizzo in the San Leonardo market, I saw a stand that looked interesting. I wanted to try baccala’ so I went over for a look. They had fried fish snacks and I had been craving them these afternoons. I ordered one, which he had to cook and then I ordered one with cheese. After I finished the cheese one and was waiting for the fish, a man came up and ordered two drinks. The guy working there poured four and I wondered if I had heard incorrectly. He gave the two to the man and his friend, and then he handed one to a woman also waiting and then he handed one to me. He poured one for himself and we all toasted and stood there drinking something very refreshing. It was a kind of sparkling red wine that came from Trieste. Every now and then this guy would hold a megaphone up to his mouth and make announcements like the train to somewhere is leaving in the next few minutes. Here is a picture of the stand and the charming guy. His smile and mannerisms remind me of my great-nephew David. Don’t you agree, Alberta? It’s a little hard to see in the picture, but I couldn’t stop thinking about David when I looked at him.

I will definitely go back to this place and enjoy some more fish and sparkling red wine.

It was another morning of nice coincidences and pleasant surprises.


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