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

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My new transportation

I've surprised myself once again, I've gone and done something I didn't think I would ever do. 

I have been content to use my feet to get me from Point A to Point B -and sometimes C most days, supplementing with the vaporetto depending on where I need to get to. Until we moved to Sant'Elena, I rarely ever went over to the Lido. And if I did, I walked once I arrived there. 

This year I find myself on the Lido often. If I need to go to a grocery store, it's actually easier to do it there at the large Coop or the new Conad store (formerly Billa, which, for the record, I miss terribly).  I make it a weekly ritual on Tuesday mornings to go to the mercatino there, and now I've added on Friday mornings as well. Some of our new favorite restaurants are there.  And it won't be long before the beaches are open again for the season. 

Recently at lunch with some friends, who all live on the Lido, I was asked if I kept a bicycle there. No, I don't have one.  One of the women immediately suggested that she give me her old one, which was sitting in the garage now that she had a new one, and her husband was urging her to get rid of it. The only problem was it had a flat tire. I didn't think that was an issue, I was happy to figure out how to get the tire fixed.  I didn't even need to do that, she took it to her local bike shop for me! She'd warned me it was old, and had lots of rust. In my opinion that would be just perfect for the Lido and me! 

The next week we made arrangements for me to come over and pick it up from the bike shop. For 9 euros I had a brand new inner tube, filled with air, and a lovely set of new wheels for me.  
This baby has a bell, 2 baskets, a mirror, a light, a brand new seat, and a fender!  And it's blue, my favorite color even.  I have hit the lottery on this one! 

The bike came home to Sant'Elena so I could have Mike adjust the seat for me. 

I've purchased a brand new bike lock, I'm ready to take it back over to the Lido where it will take up residence in one of the several bike lots in and around the area by the vaporetto stop. My bike will fit right in with it's neighbors- old rusty beach bikes, just perfect for getting around when I want to explore the seawalls along Malamocco or make a trip to the mercatino, or pedal on down to the spiaggia ( beach).  The only thing I need to do is break a bottle of prosecco over the handle bars to christen it!

It's been years since I've biked much, I must admit I'm a bit leery, but with practice I am confident I'll be fine.  I'll be just like Miss Gulch in the Wizard of Oz , except I'll be sporting a huge smile. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Voga a Silenzio (Rowing in Silence)

The weather was gorgeous yesterday, just perfect for a late afternoon row.  I hadn't rowed in three weeks- some due to travel, some due to bad weather.  I was itching to get out on the water. And, more than just wanting to row, I needed to row. We're now in training for the Vogalonga, a 32 km row around the islands to be held on May 24.

At the last minute I received a message reminding me to show up at the boat house 30 minutes early, there was to be an emergency meeting. I had a hunch what this meeting was all about. One of our members had been in the hospital for the last week, and I suspected we were going to be told something about her status.

Even though we were all pretty sure there would be some bad news, I can assure you, we were not ready for the news we got.  It was the worst we could have imagined. This poor woman, who is fairly young to begin with- and remember she has already suffered through breast cancer-has just been diagnosed with one of the worst types of cancer you could have, and the prognosis is not good. Not good at all.   We're sitting in an enormous salt warehouse, centuries old, with no windows, and you could have heard a pin drop. There was a mix of silence, tears, sniffles and then the long wails of grief stricken friends, as the realization hit.

The meeting was called to a close, with a final word to treat the situation delicately, for the poor woman's sake who was having to process this herself, and- to go do our row.  Trust me, none of us were in a mood to row,  no matter how gorgeous the afternoon was.  I glanced around the room, taking in the faces of this group of women who now have come to mean the world to me. I don't think I've ever  been as  moved as I was yesterday witnessing this collective sadness.

Somehow, we mustered up the will to go out and row. We left the salt warehouse without words, hugging one another, giving support to those that were taking the news the hardest. Still without words, we loaded up into the boat.  The entire row was in silence, which is very out of character for this chatty bunch. Normally our helmsman spends a good bit of his time yelling " Silenzio". Yesterday, no commands were necessary.  We were all lost in our own thoughts as we rowed over the Giudecca Canal, through the narrow canals of Giudecca island, and out to the lagoon. For an hour and a half we rowed, almost as one, strokes in perfect synchronization, gliding silently through the water.

There is something very magical about being in the waters surrounding Venice, with no noise at all other than the sound of your paddle slicing the water. For a brief time, you are at one with the universe.

My thoughts were this:   I've received yet another confirmation that life is short. There are no guarantees on how many tomorrows's we'll have.  That's what made me move to Italy in the first place. This is what makes me know I'm in the right place, living a quiet, simple life, focusing on what is truely important at this time in my life. Days are not to be squandered, I need to make each one count.

And that's my message to you - make each day count.