We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mood Cafe - Campo Santa Margherita

I've promised to post a photo of the new outdoor tables at Mood.. so here it is. I'm making good on that promise!  We're so happy to welcome this team of hard working guys to our neighborhood.

 I love the interior redecoration.Charlie Chaplan is a favorite of mine, so they couldn't have picked a better portrait to splash over the entire back wall. Makes me smile everytime I walk in.

Meet Max- the magician behind all the food  at Mood.  I'm hooked on his cheeseburgers, that Mike and I have renamed the "Max burger".  We have adopted the phrase -? the Max Burger, it's ex-pat approved!"  Somehow this Italian chef has created the best burger I've tasted in years. I also love his salad creations. I'm partial to his Greek Salad, topped with a bit of low fat yogurt and olive oil. But I most love the times Max tells me to "Trust him" to create a salad for me. It's a fabulous surprise every time he puts a bowl on the table in front of me.

Nicola, the other force behind Mood, wasn't around when I was snapping photos. I'll have to catch him another day. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

I voted in Italy today--- another first!

Lots of fun things going on in Venice recently-- Festa della Sensa last weekend, the Biennale kicked off this past week, Vogolonga was yesterday as was the Palio, and yesterday and today was an important election throughout all of Italy.  The election was particularly important for me as it was the first election in which I voted. 

Voting took place Sunday, June 12 and today, June 13, in local schools.  Some time ago I had received my official Tessere for voting, which contained the location of where I was to vote. This morning I set off to locate Dorsoduro 2403, the elementary school G. Zambelli.  It's not far from where we live.  When I arrived, I saw the sign for Sezione #50, which is the Sezione I vote in.  Ok, so I had at least found the right place.  And so far this all seemed very similar to going to vote in the US. 

But once inside the main doorway, all similarities changed. I walked through the courtyard, and entered the school building. On a door to my left I saw  a sign reading Sezione 50. I entered this door, and found two tables set up. The one on the left was labeled Donne (Women) and the one on the right labeled Uomini (Men).  A young  woman was sitting behind each of these. Between these two tables was a third table, behind which sat a man.  I walked over to the table labeled Donne, and handed the young woman my Voting Tessere. This is a paper document containing my name, address, Tessere number, and some other identifying information. Essentially it's equivalent to my voter registration card in the U.S.

The young woman on the other side of the table asked me for my Carta d'Identita,  looked up my name on the voting roster and checked me off.  The man sitting at the next table handed me 4 pieces of colored paper  that were about  regular letter size paper(each one a different color) and a pencil, and pointed me to the opposite side of the room where two voting booths were set up.  These weren't quite the voting booths I was used to using from back home. These were each two pieces of wood set up at an angle. I went behind the first one, and discovered there was a piece of wood  angled between the two large pieces that formed a little ledge for you to write on.  This was a far cry from the computerized voting booths I was accustomed to.

 I spread out my 4 pieces of paper so I could read them.  There was one piece of paper for each of the four referendums we were voting for. Each  had a written description of the referendum on it, and two large boxes on the bottom of the paper. One box was labeled "Si", the other "No".  It was clear I was supposed to put an X in one of the boxes.  Each paper had already been folded, so I could see how it was supposed to be folded back up.  I folded them all, noting  that on the front portion of each there was a stamp and a signature already.

When I completed my voting, I exited the little booth, and handed my 4 pieces of folded up papers to the man  who had given them to me a few minutes earlier. One at a time, he deposited them into big numbered cardboard boxes, one box for each of the four referendums.  Next he took a stamp and stamped my Tessere. I should have known there would be a stamp or two involved. Italians love stamping things.   He smiled at me, and said to me, in Italian, "This is your first time voting!". He handed  my official documents back to me, smiled again, and I set off on my merry way.

I don't know why, but I never expected to be voting "by hand", nor did I expect to see ballot boxes.  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Today's holiday renamed-- Festa della Karen's Ginocchio

Today- June 2- is a national holdiay in Italy- Festa della Repubblica.  I know it's an important day, banks will be closed, etc, but I cannot help it, I must rename the holiday and claim it as my own special day! And I want the world to celebrate with me. I don't know what the cause is-whether there has been some incredible shift in the alignment of planets, or whether I have been so good God has finally decided to give me a reprieve over here (unlikely), but for whatever the reason, my new knee is finally-- 6 1/2 months after surgery-- finally feeling like I have been waiting for it to feel- like normal.   Yahoo!  I want brass bands, balloons, and lots of great Italian fireworks ( they do have the best fireworks, let it be known).

Yesterday, I was having my usual mid-day tea with a lovely couple from Australia, when the conversation turned to our poor knees. Nolene (the wife) had commented that she noticed I'm going down bridges just like her husband is- one step at a time.  Yes, I am not happy to admit that even after my surgery, I have not been going down steps correctly.  It hurts when I attempt going down one step after the other like a normal person, and I find that I am using my hip,not my knee when I try to do it correctly. My therapist screamed at me for doing.this.  So, I resort to something that works easily, doing it one step at a time.

On my way home, I started to feel very guilty that I have not been practicing stairs correctly. So, I decided I would attempt them the right way for the rest of the day.  Gritting my teeth and gearing up for the worst of it, off I went.  And what to you know, on my way down the Ponte dei Carmini, my knees were going down just fine!  Damn, I wanted to start skipping!  On the remaining bridges from there to our apartment, the same thing  - going down just fine, one leg after the other.  On my errand to the Post Office, same thing. Holy crap!

I decided not to jinx anything. I didn't say a word to anyone about this. This morning when I woke up, I noticed that my morning getting out of bed routine was much improved.  Normally, when I first stand up, there is pain. I have go give the knee a minute or two just standing in one place, then I can slowly start moving.  This morning I put my foot on the floor and off I went, like a little bat out of hell. Again, I wanted to skip (I contained myself).

I put my knee through a few tests this morning- I did all the things that normally cause me some pain, and happily noticed that I was able to do them all like it was nothing at all. At that point, I declared my holdiday, posted a status on Facebook, and sat down to write this blog. The world needs to celebrate with me.  This has been a LONG, arduous, painful 6 1/2 months.  I certainly am not 100% there yet, but this is a major milestone!  Just like the day back at FateBeneFratelli when my knee decided it would bend 90 degrees after not doing it at all, and my therapist Blagha screamed "FINALMENTE!"

Blagha, I hope you can hear me this morning ...."FINALMENTE!!!!!".  I think there is some skipping in my future!