At last…Spring 2017

Yes, at last Spring, which has been a long time coming to the Pacific Northwest, is showing more signs of its arrival. I’ve been watching the rhododendron hedge along the walkway between my apartment and the pool. It’s had buds for a while now but opening has been slow. According to the local news sources we have had the wettest rainy season (starting in October 2016) in Seattle history. From October 1, 2016 to March 1, 2017 we had received 38.22 inches of rain. That’s a lot of water. And we’ve had quite a bit since the first of March.

DSCN7099DSCN7101 I took these photos last Thursday, May 4th, I think.  Several hours later around 4 pm we had a major storm with thunder and lightning. We don’t usually get thunderstorms here so it was quite an event that did a lot of damage just to the south of where I am. I was lucky and didn’t loose power although it did blink off and back on for about a minute.

After it was over I caught this view of the sky.

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Earlier this week it had been a little warmer and the rhododendrons had made a little progress.

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And here they are today in all of their glory.

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Sort of makes it look like I live in a woodland glade but that car parked in the lower right corner is a giveaway.

I manage to catch a couple of shots of a very, very brave squirrel…Diavolo was watching from the patio and would have had a snack if he had been interested. I’ve tried before to get a picture of this one. He/she comes on my patio and buries peanuts in my flower pots. When I go out to plant or dig my grey friend watches from the lawn. If I dig up a peanut I either put it back or toss it out into the lawn near its owner.

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As many of you know I’ve had a bit of a health set back that began a week after I was back from Venice. I won’t go into major detail but a PET scan showed that I still have an active area in a tumor (yes, that means I still have cancer) that was previously treated and I’m in the process of setting up more Cyberknife appointments. Please do not ask for more information. It’s really hard for me to constantly answer questions about how I’m doing, what I do all day, etc. Thinking and talking about what I can and can’t (mostly can’t ) do makes me sad. I don’t like being sad. That doesn’t mean I have my head in the sand, it means I don’t dwell on my disabilities. Just remember that your friend is and has been seriously ill with cancer, its treatments and the side effects( mostly those pesky side effects) of those treatments for over a year now. When there are improvements I will let you know. Oh, and please, I’m not dying so save the sympathy. Your good wishes and prayers are appreciated. If I need anything else I will ask. I have been referred to a doctor who is a specialist in Palliative care to help with my peripheral neuropathy that was caused by last year’s chemo and has not improved in the least. I’m hoping for some relief there.   Again, I will share with you what I feel like sharing….things like books I’ve read or movies I’ve seen (I love Netflix old school on DVD). Speaking of movies I just saw “A Street Cat Named Bob” based on the book of the same name which is a true story. Also true is the fact that Bob the cat developed such a great rapport with the actor who plays James that he (Bob) plays himself in the movie….no stand in cats. Even if you aren’t a cat person the story is great.  According to Netflix they just mailed me “Hidden Figures” today…also a true story. 

Posted in Cancer, Cats, Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy, Cyberknife, Diavolo, flowers, fotografia, friends, Gardens, Photography | 13 Comments

Final farewell

April 1, 2017, the city of my dreams put on a wonderful show to wish me a final farewell. I don’t usually use my camera for photos but this worked fairly well. I’m just going to show you all of them. 

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I arrived back here at home April 1 at 4:30 pm Seattle time. That would be 1:30 am on April 2 in Venice. Yes, Diavolo was glad to see me and when he realized it was really me he just could not stop purring. As I write this it is now Sunday morning and he finally decided it was okay to go outside because I wasn’t going anywhere for a while.

For those of you who want to see all 945 photos in my album Venezia: My Spiritual Journey here is the link: 

https://goo.gl/photos/GPcb7h37QaGaXqZGA

The slide show at a speed of 2 seconds takes about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Posted in Beautiful Day, City of My Dreams, Farewells, fotografia, friends, Golden hour, Home, Memories, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Arrivederci, Venezia

The evening of March 31, Max and I planned to meet for dinner at La Calcina where we have dinner reservations at 7:30.

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I’m early and I’m waiting in that lovely room.

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This man will be our waiter.

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I zoomed in on the table setting in the next room.

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It helps to have reservations as we were ushered to a corner table by the window.

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Max ordered a Caesar salad and I ordered this salad which was artichokes from the nearby island of Sant’Erasmo which is known for it’s market gardens. The artichokes are topped with shavings of parmigiano reggiano. They called the red berries “ribes” and I researched and they are related to currants and gooseberries.

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I also had pasta busara this time with salmon.

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The view from the window was extremely distracting being it was my last night in the city of my dreams.

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We finished our meal with dessert…sorry, no pictures. He ordered strawberries and cream and I had gelato…limone.

As we walked to the vaporetto the new moon was hovering over the Molino Stucky complex.

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Posted in City of My Dreams, Farewells, food, fotografia, friends, Gelato, Memories, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Sitting in the sun and paying too much for cappuccino….again

March 30, 2017 is an anniversary for me. It is exactly one year since I began chemotherapy to treat a recurrence of pelvic cancer. The day does need a special commemoration and it began with “brunch” at Grancaffè Quadri in Piazza San Marco. You may remember that I spent some time and too much for cappuccino at this same cafè back in December 2013. The prices have gone up since then.

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We were lucky the orchestra at Quadri was not playing. So no extra cover charge. Cappuccino, a croissant with pistachio cream and a bottle of passion fruit nectar (imported from France). 

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Max prefers his coffee not quite so strong and has an Americano (espresso served with water so he can dilute it as much or as little as he likes) and a croissant with apricot jam.

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Our waiter may be concerned that it’s a sunny day and 11 am and they aren’t very busy.

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Our orchestra was not playing but the one at the cafe next door was and they played my favorite opera aria “Il mio babbino caro” by Puccini.

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My hair is even redder in the sun.

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Max had scheduled a guided tour of the Basilica. I chose not to go because I tend not to like most tours and knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up anyway. So wandered towards  the other end of the Piazza. I found the Olivetti Museum. Yes, a museum dedicated to typewriters. I knew there were stairs so chose not to go in. Maybe next visit because I’ve read it’s not just the typewriters on display  but the architecture.

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Florian’s orchestra was playing “Fly Me to the Moon” when I strolled by.

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And in the Piazzetta they were playing “The Girl from Ipanema” 

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The poor lion of San Marco gets no respect from the birds.

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The gate to the Giardinetti on my way to the vaporetto to Accademia.

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I realized that I haven’t shown a good picture of a vaporetto. This is one of the boats that are water buses, the public transportation in Venice. They have other styles but this one is the easiest for me to board and many of them have outside seating. That’s the back end closest to you.

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The view of Peggy’s place from the Grand Canal.

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Mosaics on a palazzo.

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Approaching the Accademia Bridge.

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And spring has definitely arrived as I make the walk from Sacca Fisola to my apartment.

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This is the courtyard where the lovely tortoiseshell cat lives. I haven’t seen her again but she has a lovely home, if you look closely you can see the house they have made for her against the back wall in the second picture. 

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Since you have seen the post about Trattoria Da Jonny you know how we spent the evening. March 31 will be my last full day in my beloved Venezia. I do have housekeeping and packing to do and that is how I will spend my day on Friday. But dinner at La Calcina awaits.

Posted in Beautiful Day, Birds, Bridges, Cancer, Cappuccino, Cats, Chemo, City of My Dreams, food, fotografia, friends, me, Palazzo, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Trattoria da Jonny

Last evening, March 30, I had promised Max a back calle tour of my old Castello neighborhood on the way to dinner. We met at our usual Zattere vaporetto stop, walked through to Accademia and caught the No. 1 to Arsenale which was my home stop my previous two visits to my beloved Venezia. We wandered along through the Sotoportego dei Preti. According to Lonely Planet:

Under the arch of the covered passageway Sotoportego dei Preti is hidden a reddish, heart-shaped stone about the size of a hand. Local lore has it that couples that touch it together will remain in love forever. Not ready to commit just yet? This is also a nice private spot for a smooch.

They must be joking! This is a very well traveled passageway for locals and not at all private. On to Calle de l’Arco, across the bridge and left on Calle Dei Scudi. Follow this to Ponte dei Scudi (the bridge of shields) my previous apartment is just to the right before the bridge. Pause to enjoy the views and the voices of the families echoing from the open windows. Cross the bridge and on the left is….Trattoria da Jonny. He wasn’t there when I stayed in the neighborhood….it was a vacant building for sale. But  now….

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We were early…probably about 6:45 pm but Jonny welcomed us as though we were old friends. When I mentioned my friends Karen and Mike we were family. That’s Gio Gio one of our waiters back at the bar.

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Yes, there is no one else there because it’s early for Italians for dinner.

We were provided with a basket of bread while we perused the menu. And the “coperto” was only E 2 per person. A coperto is not a tax…it is meant to cover the cost of the bread and the table setting (cover).

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It was hard not to fill up on bread but I had suggestions about what to order. I got a bottle of l’acqua frizzante (sparking water) and Max had Venetian beer.

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Karen had recommended the octopus (tentacoli on the menu) appetizer and Max ordered that. Sorry the picture is a little fuzzy. It is served on a bed of smoky mashed potatoes.

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I order gamberi in saor (prawns with red onions, pumpkin, raisins and pine nuts) on polenta. There are some good sized prawns under those onions. The waiter teased me because I ate everything and even nibbled on the chive. I said maybe I should lick the plate. He laughed and said it would save doing the dishes.

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For my main course I just had the “primi piatti” of paparadelle con ragu di cinghiale. A pasta with wild boar sauce.

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Max had the tuna with seasonal vegetables.

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We were both saving room for dessert because Karen had told me the chocolate cake was to “die for”. She was so right. Torta ciccolata con cuore morbido e salsa alla vaniglia. That is chocolate cake with a soft heart and vanilla sauce. I’m showing you two views:

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Max chose torta di mele (apple cake)

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As we were finishing our meal (around 9 pm) the place was beginning to fill up with …Venetians. We were the only non natives in the room. I must say our Italian teacher Josefina would be proud because the waiters complimented us on our Italian pronunciation. I had asked them to correct us. Behind the bar is Gio Gio, one of our waiters. I’m sorry I didn’t get a better picture of him.

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Here is Max’s reaction when they brought two complimentary glasses of limoncello.

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They knew I don’t drink alcohol but said it was so we could clink glasses and say “cin, cin”. We lingered and he managed to take care of both glasses….hard work but someone had to do it.

This sign on the wall really says it all:

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English translation: By Jonny, the chef of your dreams. I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Here I am with Jonny and one of the waiters whose name I did not catch. Jonny hugging me.

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So, my friends who are in Venice or planning a trip there….it is well worth finding your way to this wonderful trattoria in Castello. I told Jonny it was the best meal I’d had in Venice. More thinking and I realized it may be the best meal I have ever had. Really! I’m just sorry I’m leaving Saturday (for many reasons) and that I won’t have time to go back. Ah, next time…for there will be a next time and I hope to be staying just right across the bridge.

Here are some night views and reflections as we wandered back to the vaporetto and our apartments.

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The new moon over Piazza San Marco taken from the vaporetto.DSCN7061

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I will have two more posts for you of my beloved Venezia….breakfast yesterday morning in the Piazza and dinner tonight but they will have to wait for a bit. I need to spend my day making sure I can get everything in my suitcase and doing some final clean up here (dishes and take out the trash) then dinner at La Calcina tonight. Came close to cancelling the reservations and going back to Da Jonny but getting in there on a Friday night is unlikely. Hmm, we are family now. Nope, not going to do it.

I am sad to be leaving my beloved early tomorrow morning but also happy to be returning to the paws of my Diavolo. I have missed him so much. Not enough cats in this neighborhood and even if there were they are no substitute for your own fur buddy.

Arrivederci, Venezia! Ritornerò!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Beautiful Day, Bridges, City of My Dreams, Farewells, food, fotografia, friends, Home, House cleaning, Italian Lesson, learning Italian, Life is good, me, Memories, Moon, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

La Cena a Do Mori

Wednesday, March 29. Today I sent Max on his own to visit the islands in the Lagoon. I just could not manage the amount of walking involved. He says he wants to live on Torcello. I got email with a picture of his lunch at the Cipriani.

When he got back….about 6 pm he called and asked what our plans were for dinner. We had no plans since I didn’t know when he’d be back so I took the vaporetto to the Palanca stop…I know to some of you who know Venice that is the long way around but with my current limitations 400 meters to Sacca Fisola, get on the vaporetto and within 15 minutes I’m there or take the walk to Palanca…900 meters and the 35 minutes it takes me to walk it and my way is better…at least for me.

He decided we would eat at Do Mori which is right there by the vaporetto (a little too close as we get the noise from that) but he had been before and liked it. It was a very pleasant evening.

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I saw my favorite (or one of them) Venetian antipasti…Baccala on the menu. I was hungry and forgot to take a picture….sorry. The waiter was very impressed that an American woman could not only order that in Italian but that she would order that. It’s dried and salted cod that has been reconstituted, shredded and made into a creamy mixture and served with crostini (what you do with your day old baguette…no, really it’s fresh and toasted.) He was amazed that it disappeared as fast as it did and I think Max only got about a third of it.

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Above picture is the tax police on patrol.

Below the setting sun casts a rosy glow.

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As shown in the roses in my cheeks.

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I had the grilled chicken breast and patate fritte (French fries).

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The “side” of fries was huge and I could only manage part of it.

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Max had their lasagna bolognese which was also an ample portion.

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As darkness enveloped the City of My Dreams

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The cuttlefish came out to play…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuttlefish

They are in season now and highly prized. Their black ink is used in a lot of dishes here this time of year including the black bread I love. But I still can’t get myself to order the spaghetti or polenta covered in black. But this pescatore (fisherman) was standing by the vaporetto waiting area with his net and other people were pointing and helping him scoop them up.

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I am a little behind in my posting so you will get the morning of the 30th soon…I promise but the next post will be a very, very special dinner. Ciao, ciao for now.

Posted in Beautiful Day, Cicchetti, City of My Dreams, Cuttlefish, food, fotografia, friends, Giudecca, Golden hour, Italian Lesson, me, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

La Primavera

What says Spring more that the leaves budding out on the trees. Today’s adventure is a trip to the Giardini, gardens in eastern Castello. One of my favorite areas.

But first a reflection I caught through the window of the vaporetto on the way there.

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Ah, another beautiful day in the quiet of morning…really it’s nearly 11 am.

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Time to sit on a bench and read il giornale…the newspaper, I think he was reading Il Gazzattino di Venezia.

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One of my favorite places is this historic greenhouse and nursery where you can buy plants and they have a cafe….Cafe La Serra. Just in time for a cappuccino break and a piece of their torta di mele (like apple pie but with a thicker crust)

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Sadly neither Max nor I play piano.

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You can catch up with your favorite gardening magazine. On the way out I noticed they had their special mix for cioccolata calda (hot chocolate if you remember) and I bought a few packets and he told me about their “flower food”…all kinds of teas, and pasta made from flowers. They also have selections of seasonings and a lovely gift pack of edible flowers. All grown organically and locally. I got myself some tea. May go back and get more.

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Turtles enjoying the sun in the pond at the foot of the Garibaldi monument.

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Fruttivendolo…that is what he is called. He’s your greengrocer selling fruit, vegetables and even herb plants from his boat on a canal in the Via Garibaldi. I think if I lived in the area I would have no trouble buying my fruit and veggies from him. I did buy “due mele per favore” that’s two apples please. I would have bought more but I’m leaving Saturday …sniff, sniff.

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And we turn around and it’s time for lunch so we decide to sit in the sun.  Max had the gnocchi special with the beer and I ordered from their menu a selection of cicchetti…little bites that you order by the piece, my favorite baccala, an arancini filled with cheese rather than marinara and a tonno (tuna) with cipolla (onion) with a bottle of water. Yummy.

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Not a tourist in sight at this end of the calle.

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Just Venetians going about their day.

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Walking back to the vaporetto we pass my favorite laundry calle.

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What better way to end this day tour than with the flag of Venice flapping in the breeze.

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Posted in Beautiful Day, Cappuccino, Chocolate, Cicchetti, City of My Dreams, flowers, food, fotografia, friends, Gardens, Laundry, Photography, Travel, urban wildlife, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments