Posted by: jeanne | January 20, 2017

a trip to the post office

we don’t seem to be able to get out of bed until 9 in the morning.  at home we usually get up around this time, and we’re sticking to the same pattern here.  coffee at 8, connor comes in around 8:45, and we start our day around 9.  just no dogs to walk.  but this is rather unfortunate, because we’re in venice, where the day starts at dawn.

the garbage has to be out on the street between 6-8 in the  morning, and for the first week we missed getting things out there on time.  if you put the garbage out the night before, the birds and other critters get to it.  if you put it out after 8, the garbage men might miss it and the birds and critters get to it.  people don’t put their garbage into cans or wheely bins like they do at home.  the trash goes into a plastic bag which gets hung from a nail out on the street, high enough to avoid being trashed by dogs, low enough for the garbage guys to take as they pass with their aluminum carts.  there’s a painting by carpaccio? that shows garbage bags hung on hooks way back in the 16th century, only not plastic bags… i finally figured out how to cope with the consequences of our late risings.  rummaging thru the junk drawer in our apartment, i found a long length of rope, possibly saved for using as a clothes line (because every apartment comes with a natural clothes dryer that runs from some window either across the street or along the side of the house, and the women here seem to do laundry daily).  but i rummaged some more, came up with a plastic shower curtain ring, tied it onto the line, tied the line to the venetian blind anchor on the window sill in the kitchen, and now we lower our trash out first thing when we get up to make coffee in the morning.  yay!  the trash guys get it, the birds don’t.

wednesday afternoon we watched from the window as a trash guy came to empty out the public waste bins in campo san polo (we think).  he left two tied-off black can liners at the edge of the canal and went back for more, and immediately two very large black tailed seagulls swooped down and started pecking at the garbage bags.  within moments the male had dragged a small trash bag out of the bin liner and was trying to find an opening, while the  female watched and cooed her impatience.  he found the bag opening and dragged out a smaller bag, and the two of them began picking thru it and scattering the contents, looking for whatever it was they’d smelled.  by the time the trash guy got back with more trash, there was refuse all over the place, with plastic blowing in the wind.  my sister was on facetime with me during this, and said how years ago when she visited venice, the trash was so badly managed that there were feral cats everywhere, and rats aplenty even in the daytime.  we’ve never seen a rat here, and there are no cats wandering the streets now, so perhaps that problem has been dealt with.  the trash guys are certainly diligent enough every day, and the garbage is collected every day but sunday.  they even separate the trash into food garbage, paper, and plastic and everything else, taking the paper one day, the plastic and everything else the next day, and food trash every day, and there are labels in the apartment for the plastic and everything else trash.  very admirable.

on wednesday, the only thing we had to do was go to the post office and mail that letter we’ve been writing.  and run by the shops for more milk.  plus i was very tired because i’ve been sleeping poorly lately.  so i worked on my painting after the sun stopped shining in the window where i’m working, and after only a short time, went off for a nap.  the weather is changing here at the moment, and the wind was quite high, so there were lots of extra noises – clacking shutters, banging boats, higher than usual wakes from the boats.  there’s a vaporetto strike on, a one-day thing, so there was less traffic on the grand canal, but those sounds are far enough away (100 yards and more) that they didn’t bother me.  what bothered me was the sound of the front door blowing open, and the sound of the chair connor was on falling over onto the terazzo floors.  he was in the studio (the dining room) with jim, messing with his avenger dolls and talking a blue streak.  so that was it for the nap.  so i made lunch.  and then we went out to get that stamp.


there was no question of taking a vaporetto back, so we walked to piazzale roma, which only takes half an hour.  having loads of time, we decided to see what the street side of the palazzo opposite looks like, so we went off in search of the street leading to its back door.   it turned out to be down a side street, which turned into a tiny, much smaller alleyway that twisted and turned between houses.  we finally found shutters way up high that matched the shutters on the canal-side, and the alley went on past them, getting more and more dark, until it reached the street door of the palazzo fronting on the grand canal.  this door was permanently lit by a street light, and still was very gloomy.  some of these tiny alleys are completely blocked from the sun as well as its light.

dear connor, this is why we’re not buying you everything you see, love santa

we made our way back to the main drag, and retraced our steps to the turn for the track to piazzale roma.  connor and i usually go on ahead of grandpa, who no matter how slowly we walk, walks even slower, looking at interesting architectural details along the way.  so connor and i turned, and stopped at the model boat maker’s window to wait for grandpa, but he didn’t show up.  oh shit he’s gotten lost, i realized, and then connor and i did a mad dash to try to find him before he got too lost.  i didn’t really think he’d gone back the way we’d been going, so we didn’t turn left and go over the bridge.  but he wasn’t visible, and the anxiety level rose to 8 in my chest.  we quickly walked back to the turnoff for our house, and i debated going into the alleyway to look for him, but if he’d gone back home then he wouldn’t be lost anymore, so we continued toward campo san polo.  and just past the accordion playing busker outside our alley, we saw his red beret stalking off toward the campo. so i sent connor running off ahead to catch up with him.  connor was still trying to explain to grandpa that he was lost when i caught up, and using my hands as forklifts, speared him under the arms, turned him, and pushed him in the right direction.  he’d been convinced he was going in the direction of piazzale roma (he was headed toward rialto), and was somewhat resistant to learning he was only a few steps from being absolutely lost.  he hadn’t realized he’d passed the turn to the house, he’d been watching street repair guys instead of watching us, and completely passed the turn to the street we’d taken.  he insisted that he probably could find his way to the house, but he was just shy of getting irretrievably mixed up.  today i’m taking the sharpie and writing my italian phone number on both their jackets.  it took several long minutes for my anxiety level to return to its  normal elevation.


on the way we took the turn into the popadopoli park and found a children’s playground and a couple of guys drinking beer and smoking a blunt.  connor never noticed, and threw himself at the swings and jungle gym, and we sat in the sun out of the wind for a few minutes, then continued across to piazzale roma and the post office.  this time was rather a comedown from the last visit.  we took a ticket that was at least 50 numbers from what was showing on the service counter, and waited until someone thought to update the service counter, when our number magically came up.  the stamp cost 2.20, and we didn’t get a receipt large enough to serve as an envelope in itself; the guy took my money, franked our letter, and that was it.


the sun was going down as we made our way back to san polo, and we were chilled from the wind.  we stopped for a few groceries, i finally found some celery, and returned home to make one of the recipes out of the venetian cookbook i brought with the chicken we got the day before.  this took over an hour to make, so i started reading one of the novels i got for xmas, while the boys played in connor’s room.

connor has taken to prepping everybody’s toothbrush at night, putting too much toothpaste on his own brush and dabbing some on jim’s (who doesn’t like toothpaste).  but he’s so proud of himself that i can only caution him not to waste the toothpaste.  just like i caution him about throwing things in the house (all the expensive breakables), about jumping on the furniture (we don’t know how old the fabric couch cover is), about running down the hall full tilt and sliding home (the front door is steel), etc.  then a bedtime story (the cat in the hat), and to bed.  i had been leaving his shutters open at night, but he complained of the cold, so i found an extra blanket, and his room is completely dark at this point.  i was going to start opening our shutters after our own bedtime story, but the wind is high tonight and i don’t want the shutters blowing shut and giving me a heart attack.

and that’s another beautiful day in venice.  we were supposed to get massive amounts of rain this weekend, but the forecast has shifted, and it will remain sunny, bright, and cold.  a delicious winter where we can see stars in the middle of town – amazing.

today is thursday, bright, cold, windy.  we wanted to have a bit of fish for dinner, so right after breakfast we took the back way to the fish market at rialto, and scooped up a nice bit of salmon,  wonder where it comes from…  i’m going to try to make risotto tonight, and i’m kind of nervous, because we don’t actually like our rice soupy, and aren’t used to making it in any other way but steaming.  we’ll see.  we can always eat the fish.  we also got a nice head of romaine lettuce at the market, and dumped it all into a carry bag i had thought to bring from the house.


after lunch, jim decided he wanted to go out on his own with the camera.  after yesterday i was a little dubious, but you can’t control everything… so he went out, and i busied myself with my painting and forgot all about him.  he only went around campo san polo and followed calle del magazen to its end past our campiello, but he got a couple of dozen photos, and was happy if cold when he got back.


this afternoon we wanted to visit a gallery that jim stopped by last time, and we had printed up a bunch of his paintings of venice to show them.  nearby is a bakery that sells fritelle alla crema for only a euro each.  so double duty.  the gallery is near the frari church, and still there despite the passage of 2 years.  when we went by earlier the shutters were down, so we weren’t cure they’d still be there – so many places aren’t – but there they were, so we peered into the window, and finally a lady came along and unlocked, having been around the corner doing something else.  she asked if we wanted to come in, so jim started to tell her that he was there a few years ago.  i piped up, ‘noi siamo artisti’ and she said yes, she remembered us.  so we went back today with a dozen printouts.  she and her partner duly paged thru them, and then handed them back and asked for his business card (which i printed up only at the last minute at home), and told us this is a very bad time for art, and that they were going to close for 15 days before carneval, then bitched about how carnival has been during january for the last few years, and how horrible that is for business.  it was a polite brushoff.  we’re kind of used to getting rejected, so we just shuffled off to buy fritelle and wander back home a different way, taking photos the whole time.


jim wanted to have a bath, but it seems the water heater is on the blink again, and i can’t understand the italian (or german) instructions on the panel, so i’m going to have to contact our landlords again and ask for their help one more time…

we had risotto with salmon tonight for dinner; i followed various recipes for risotto and managed to make something pretty tasty and pretty edible.  afterwards, jim said maybe he wanted to go to the store to get more cereal, milk, and some brioches for breakfast.  connor got all excited about that, and i thought maybe they wouldn’t get lost going to the coop store all by themselves, since it’s only straight down the main drag over one bridge and past one campo.  but i did dissuade him, to connor’s annoyance.  and now it’s time for bed.




  1. These photos are superb. Enjoyed your day.


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