Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

A bright and sparkling, happy and healthy 2012 to all of you.  Thanks for sticking with me for another year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

More Venice

A glimpse of painted ceiling in a restored palazzo at the anchorage of the Accademia Bridge.

Parking your boat seems a lot easier than parking your car in other cities.  I wonder if you need a permit?

Canals and streets are often the same width and the paved ways cross the watery ones.

Over the years this church portico has become squeezed by the encroaching buildings.

Pigeons perch everywhere there's an available surface.

Wellheads in the campos used to supply water to the locals.  Now they offer places to play or to sit. 

Kids after school climbing on a wellhead in Campo San Barnaba.

Just in case you thought you were heading in the right direction.

Sometimes all there is to do is stop in a caffé and watch the world go by.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Let's Go Back to Venice

Photographically, that is.  I've got quite a few photos from that gorgeous city that I'd like to share.

Let's start with some food from the Rialto market:

For the mathematically challenged, I suppose it's useful to be reminded that if five artichokes cost three euros, 10 will cost six euros.  Maybe it's me, but wouldn't it be a better sales tactic to offer six for five euros? Just asking...

This is clearly the season for gas-producing vegetables and in this market you know exactly where they come from; the growing area is identified on the signs.

Aren't these the most beautifully shaded pears you've ever seen?

And the mushrooms are huge and perfect, needing only some olive oil and garlic.

Not a lot of butchers in the area, but fishmongers galore and the fish too are identified as to their place of origin.

Some shellfish doesn't seem intuitively edible to me.  Wouldn't you have to be really hungry to think these razor clams were going to taste as good as they do as a sauce for pasta?

But crayfish look like there'd be a bite or two of good eating under those shells.

And once you open up the pretty scallop shell the meat is irresistible.

But come on, octopus?  Really?  Tasty, I grant you, but who first had the nerve to find out?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday, Shmoliday, It's All Chow Mein to Me

photo courtesy of www.tablet,com

The playwright David Mamet drew this cartoon that's taken on a life of its own, popping up all over the net. 

When Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was asked during her confirmation hearing where she had been on Christmas Day she laughed and replied, "You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant."  It's an old joke based on a real tradition.

And then you go to a movie.

photo courtesy of Pony Jigger on Etsy

And for those of you who do celebrate in a different tradition, Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noël!

 photo courtesy


Playing Catch Up

We're finally in our own Berkeley home after five months, after some rather luxurious, if unplanned, couch-surfing at relatives and friends homes since mid-August.  Our actual Paris stay lasted only two months of the time, much shorter than our typical sojourn. It seems like we've been away forever.

On our arrival in the Bay Area we spent a week at my sister and brother-in-law's house until our tenants skedaddled and we were able to move home.  Pleasant as it was to wake in the morning and share a cup of coffee with my much-missed sister, we couldn't wait to get home, take a bath in our huge tub (we don't have one in our Paris life) and get into our very own bed.  Ahhhhh.....

The skies are blue and the sun shining, the temperature cool by Berkeley standards but mild by ours now. We have been seeing friends for meals at our favorite restaurants and flicking through television channels trying to find anything interesting, with little luck.  Feels like old times.

My multi-talented friend Paulette Traverso had a show of her artwork this month at Jimmie Gallery in Berkeley.  I had heard about what she was doing but hadn't seen any of the work until last week.

Old portrait photographs are the base for meditations in ink and etching knife and are shown mounted on antique photo pullers.  Paulette comes to "know" the people in the photos and her work seems to be an expression of connection between herself and them.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Packing Up

It seems quite strange to be leaving Paris only two months after we arrived but last year we had decided not to spend the winter here after the last two really cold, snowy hivers.  The first one was kind of fun and we were assured by Parisians that it was not at all the usual winter weather.  When the next one was worse, we stopped believing them.

We're Californians after all and have a perfectly nice house in which to sit out the chillier months, so that's what we're going to do.

And naturally this winter has been, at least so far, much milder than the previous two, has been in fact more like an extended autumn.  Virtually no rain and temperatures ranging 10F-15F higher than normal for the season.  I'm actually kind of pleased that it's gotten a bit colder this week and that there's been some rain the last couple of days, enough for me to think that spending the winter in Berkeley really was a good idea.

Meanwhile we haven't been doing much other than the inevitable round of "last" dinners and coffees and our daily strolls around the city.

Which, you will agree, is lovely in any season.

Well, the sun helps of course, highlighting the gold on the statuary

and turning the occasional planted terrasse into someplace you'd like to be invited to visit because, as the dial tells you, this time is fleeting.

The large Maillol sculptures of ronde ladies in the Tuileries don't seem to get the attention of the men in the area, no matter what their ages.  Not the preferred body shape for today's males apparently.

Some wall art that caught my eye included these fellows who seem to have dropped down from Notre Dame to look over the courtyard wall at the human goings-on

and this agreeable response to the typical injunction not to post on the walls.

And so we're leaving in a couple of days for several months.  The blog will not be on hiatus

but it is likely to be even less frequent than it's been lately unless life gets unusually exciting in Berkeley.

Paris store windows are dressed for Noël, but this one around the corner from our apartment seems appropriate for us right now.  It's all in English, although the date is written in the European manner.
Happy holidays, tout le monde.