Posted by: jeanne | February 24, 2015

our short tour thru dorsorduro

it rained again today.  we’ve noticed that the weather forecast is almost invariably wrong, but they did forecast rain, and it did rain.  just not nearly as much as they forecast.  this is better than usual, because it hasn’t hardly rained at all since we’ve been here, even tho every week has two days when it’s supposed to rain.  the alps seem to form a rain shadow, or else the funky jet stream is giving this part of europe a miss this winter.  who can tell?

anyway, we got stir crazy again today, partly because connor had no chance to go out and play on the swings.  he spent plenty of time in the backyard, chasing pigeons and climbing a small tree, but there aren’t any other kids in the backyard, and he’s taken to claiming all the kids who appear on the playground as ‘his kids’.

so i looked at the map and decided that we could get off the vaporetto at the salute church and go down to the dogana point and right the way around the zaterre to the boat terminal, and then cut in and go back along a fundamenta and several rio terras, with a nice garden or two.


while we were at the salute, we decided to chance going inside.  it’s a nice church, round inside, as you can see, with i didn’t count how many bays containing altars, and alterpieces, and old paintings by one old master italian artist or other.  i saw tiepolo’s name mentioned.  jim and connor stopped to see each one, while i was taken with the stone floor.

i was irritated by a bunch of people who walked by an old guy with his cap on the steps outside, without giving him any money, only to deposit funds with loud ostentatious clinks into the box to pay for candles.  so i dug out a coin and gave it to connor as we left, to drop into his cap.  the guy needs the money, not the church.


on the dogana point is a sailboat, and it’s been there the whole time we’ve been here.  i have no idea of its history or why it’s docked there (the fees must be large), but it’s a handsome vessel, and i thought i’d capture it in a little detail.  i could have spent half an hour taking closeups of the rigging and details, but we were going to run out of light soon, because we’d left our trip so late in the day.


so we walked on.  this wall fronts onto the giudecca canal, and gets a beating.  it’s highly deteriorated, and further on they’ve dug out some of these old bricks and replaced them with new ones.  they’ve also plastered (cemented) over some areas in a decorative manner, and probably to protect from the salt water, but the plaster is in bad shape now, and crumbles when you touch it.  the maintenance in this city must be constant.


a little further along, still behind the salute, there are several club houses, or ware houses, with who knows what behind the doors.  this one had its doors open, and we were very happy to see all these boats stacked up.  just outside was a little floating dock, and it was bucking in the strong wind .  i had to lock the wheels of the stroller every time i stopped to take a picture, because the wind rolled it toward the edge of the canal whenever i let go to take a picture.


i think the walls are the real reason we came to venice.  there are so many of them that are so full of texture that it stops me and jim in our tracks, as we admire the various colors and failing bits.


we were struck by the jumble of rooftops as we crossed one bridge.  and there was this great shopping street that has a cafe scene that i believe i’m going to paint.


and of course the boys got ahead of me as i stopped to take a picture of a great house and its reflections in the canal.


but it was getting dark, so we hustled off to our secondary mission – one more visit to the pigment shop.  that meant finding our way to accademia and its bridge, and from there wending our way around a few corners until we got to our destination, familiar to us all at this point.  even connor knew where we were going (he started crying about hot chocolate as we neared it, because once we stopped for some after an unsuccessful trip there.

SONY DSC a great iron grill jim liked

but lo and behold, the shop was brightly lit, and the metal doors were rolled up, and as we parked the stroller outside, two men came out of the shop and crossed the little street to another shop, which the guy in the hat opened up, some sort of antique store.

the mad hatter was our proprietor, and his shop was so much cooler on the inside than the outside.  it has all sorts of things in it, from pigments to incense to murano glass beads to tumbled semiprecious stones, to handmade books and handprinted paper, to ebony canes, with some art supplies thrown in for good measure.

to be honest, jim wasn’t all that interested in buying any pigments.  after all, i brought 80 some odd with me, and we have a handy collection at home.  but what can you do?  there were so many pigments, and there were bound to be some we didn’t have.  so i started looking at the jars, and reading the labels.  i don’t know where he buys his pigments (the place outside of amsterdam where we bought pigments got theirs from kremer), and his names aren’t astm standard, so it wasn’t really apparent what the actual pigment was, but we could tell we didn’t have a lot of them – mostly the blues.

so i got things like bellini blue, and blue mineral clear, and venice green, and orange iron oxide, and cobalt clear.  perhaps some of them are mixed with white; he didn’t speak much english and my italian doesn’t extend to painting terms.  but the little bottles were 5 euros.  he had pigments in plastic bags, and was selling a range of colors in maybe 5 bags for 20 euros, but i know from experience that if i want to get them home safely, they’ve got to be in jars.  the jars weren’t market, but i fixed that with a roll of masking tape and a pen.

SONY DSC he’s smiling because he’s playing with connor, who is just out of the frame on the floor

the guy really loved connor.  who doesn’t?  he has two kids of his own, and one of them is three.  he told me this as he directed connor’s fingers away from this gigantic amethyst specimen set up opposite his front door.  his three year old has to be constantly reminded, too.  he sat and drew figures on a piece of paper on the floor, and connor sat and drew with him, and he rolled up a piece of paper for connor to use as an eyepiece and megaphone, and finally he gave connor a plastic water gun that he had to dig out of his stores under the counter.


and while he was doing this, i was pouring over the pigments, and wandering around the store taking pictures, and jim was examining some replica coins that he was very pleased to find.  he will take them home and make casts of them to use in his handmade frames.  he was actually hoping to run into something like this, and picked three different sized coins to take home.  the guy put them into a box and then used a wax seal to decorate the box.  very thoughtful.

we spent a bucketful of cash, or course, but it’s art supplies, and justified.  when we go back, before we leave, we’re going to bring him a print of something we paint using his pigments.  we just have to find something that’s full of blues.  in venice, gee, what could that be?

connor was too happy with his squirtgun to remember he wanted hot chocolate, so we went right home on the vaporetto, after recrossing the accademia bridge.

SONY DSC rehearsing for the four seasons at what looked like a church but was really a concert hall

waiting for the vaporetto, connor met a little beagle type dog who he befriended, and then turned around to find a very large dog behind him.  the dog had a muzzle, and i was explaining to connor that this was so he wouldn’t bite anybody, or more likely, so he wouldn’t pick up food off the street.  i was surprised when the dog’s owner replied in american that the vaporetto guys made you muzzle big dogs just in case they might bite someone.

when the boat started up and jim and connor were entertaining the passengers in the cabin, i stood out and talked to the woman, asking her if she managed to live in venice, and congratulating her on her luck.  but it gets better.

she has a dream job.  she works as a contractor for some major computer company back in silicon valley, and goes from venice in the winter to germany in teh summer, with ireland at some point, and spain in the fall.  not only does she spend 3 months at a time in all these places, but she works from home.  she knows five languages, and she hasn’t been back to the states to see the sad deterioration of civil liberties and civil discourse in ever so long.  a true expat, and i must say i’m horribly jealous.  we also share a history of cancer, and we talked about dealing with it.  i’ve had more than ten years, she finished her chemo last year.  it’s a real life changer, and your priorities shift in dramatic ways.  it’s kind of a club, and i felt a great kinship with her.  before she got off the boat, i got her email address so i can keep in touch with her.  i liked her a lot.  it kind of made my day, really.



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