Le finestre (The windows)

 Urk! My desktop computer has well and truly fallen off the perch. Until I can retrieve my photos from the backup hard drive and get them sorted, would you please be so kind as to leisurely look at these examples of windows, or what used to be windows.

At least I know what I’ll be doing for the next day or so. As someone said “It’s all good fun until the computer dies.” I’m sure someone said that …






Filed under Venice

Madonnina dei Vetrai (Our Lady of Glassblowers)

You will find this lovely shrine, dedicated  to the glassblowers, when you visit the island of Murano.

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Filed under Venice

109 r 14

 Now what could that cryptic post title possibly mean? For those of you who are old enough, you might recognise it as a telephone number, from the days when all calls had to go through an operator, or  “Central” as they were also called.

We lived on a farm. My father supplemented our income by working as an-call fireman for the (now defunct) CNR … Canadian National Railway.  So, the phone was installed to allow dad to receive calls for a “run”, maybe on a freight train, perhaps a passenger train.

Our telephone number shows that we were on the line numbered 109 (along with other subscribers). When we heard the bells ringing one long and four short signals, we knew the call was for us. So did the other subscribers on our line and we all, no exception, sometimes ‘listened in’ to private conversations. (There’s nothing new under the sun. Now government agencies, and others, do the very same. Their methods are just a tad more sophisticated.)

That’s how I learned that WWII was over; I listened in to a conversation between two neighbours. Remember, there was no 24 hour news service streamed to us, on demand. I can still recall running out of the house to happily tell my mom, who was out feeding the chooks.

Here’s what our phone looked liked in those olden days.

blog phone

The first full-time job I had was as a telephone operator in a small town in the south-west of Manitoba, Canada. I loved the job, and was thrilled when I had to make long-distance calls, maybe even across the border to the USA. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what salary I received in those long ago days, but I found one source that said the highest paid woman in such a position was earning considerably less than a man in the lowest paid clerical job. That wage discrepancy still exists, doesn’t it?

Here is the sort of switch board the other operators and I faced every day.

“Operator. Number, please.”


Then, along came rotary dial phones, and new technology, that allowed people to make many of their own calls. You developed strong index fingers, dragging that dial around!


Wonder of wonders, the push-button phones arrived.


And then, suddenly you weren’t tethered to the base of the phone by a cord, but could wander around the house as you talked, thanks to the cordless telephones. Here are some pretty nifty models from Bang and Olufsen; every home should have one of those! A new problem arose with the cordless phones. Where in heck did you leave the darn thing?

Bang and Olufsen cordless phones

Bang and Olufsen cordless phones

Now, we have phones that are smarter than us, and they represent not just a telephone, but are small mobile computers, that do as many tasks as you want/need.


You can even get a bracelet model. (Eat your heart out, Dick Tracy.)


 So, in my lifetime, I’ve seen an amazing progression in the manner in which we communicate. I wonder what the next step will be?

NB Every single image on this post was sourced through online searches.





Filed under Uncategorized

Castello 925-27

Today, you’re standing in the Campo San Giuseppe, after walking there from the Biennale vaporetto stop. You pause before you cross the bridge over the Rio di San Giuseppe, and your eyes fall on this building  just to the left, on the other side of the Rio.

You’re looking at another of the domestic dwellings described by Egle Trincanato in Venetian domestic architecture. Built in the 16-17th century, it is still in use as a home for families.

The design is simple, with the windows on the first floor offering a touch of quiet elegance.






Filed under Venice

Who let the chooks out?

Trish, the lady who ably takes care of and trains (i) my cat when I need to be absent from home, is presently minding a property not far from Dismal Swamp. The owners are away for a couple of weeks, leaving their seven Ragdoll cats (ii), assorted chickens and chicks, a large garden and yard for Trish to manage. After being there for a couple of hours and trailing along after her as she did the chores, I came home a weary person!

I have rallied enough to post a few photos of the livestock. I ate all of the fresh vegetables I scored from the garden, so you’ll just have to use your imagination there.


These are Guinea Fowl chicks, lovingly foster-mothered by these clucky hens.


The Guinea Fowl chicks are fed a mix of mince meat, cooked rice and hard boiled eggs. The latter ingredient must give them an early start on cannibalism, perhaps.


The chooks have plenty of room to prowl around, once they are released from their hen house. They benefit from fresh vegetables from the garden.


The hen in the foreground is a right bossy britches, who bullies the rest of the flock, including the rooster.

Although there are seven cats in the house, only one could be found, and deigned to pose for a milli-second.


Now, I get to do footnotes.  Just like university days again.

(i)    it doesn’t take me long to undo all the good training Trish has done with Minx.

(ii)  yes, that’s seven Ragdoll cats, and they all live indoors. They have one of those catios built onto the side of the house, so they can get fresh air and exercise out there.

This image from a Google search show the undeniable adorableness of this breed of cat.



Filed under Australia

The Gondola Maker

This is not about a modern-day craftsman you would meet in Venice at the Squero San Trovaso, nor the Squero Tramontin, but rather one you will meet in the pages of the historical novel written by Laura Morelli When I was invited by Laura Fabiani to review this book for italybooktours, I was happy to oblige, since I had recently read the book and had enjoyed it.

Squero San Trovaso

Squero San Trovaso


Squero Tramontin

Squero Tramontin



Set in 16th century Venice, we follow the travails of Luca Vianello, whose destiny had been to become the owner of the family squero in Cannaregio, where gondolas were made and repaired.

But, the death of his beloved mother, a bitter fight with his father and a tragic accident at the squero  leads to  Luca  fleeing from home, and puts him on the path to an entirely different life.

After a period of what we today might call rough living,  he lands a job as boatman to the painter/ artist Trevisan.  (The descriptions of the conditions under which many people would have living in this period of history had me squirming!)

During this time, two significant things happen which will determine  his future.  In the boat house of his employer, he discovers the wreck of a gondola that had been made by his grandfather, and he is smitten by  the lovely Giuliana Zanchi, who is posing for a portrait. His infatuation and developing friendship with Giuliana causes him to take some rather foolhardy risks. I guess this is what being a hero requires!

The descriptions of life in Venice at this time in history, and the insights into the skills involved in the making of gondolas and their equipment, are a bonus for anyone interested in this era.

The story moves along at a good pace, the protagonist is a likeable person whom you would want to succeed. I was satisfied with the manner in which the story ended, and wouldn’t object to a sequel, if that’s on the cards. So, you may deduce that I have no hesitation in recommending this well researched novel.

 The author:

View More: http://sarahdeshawphotographers.pass.us/laura-morelli

About the author:

Laura Morelli earned a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and an Andrew W. Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She has taught college art history in the U.S. and at Trinity College in Rome. She is the creator of the authentic guidebook series that includes Made in ItalyMade in France, and Made in the Southwest, published by Rizzoli. Laura is a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler and other national magazines and newspapers. A native of coastal Georgia, she is married and is busy raising four children. The Gondola Maker is her first work of fiction.
The book is available from these sources:


Filed under Venice

Some just have it all

A case in point, this house, which not only has an altana (rooftop terrace) but also paterae (the round reliefs) and a formella (the rectangular relief).

What does a person have to do to have such a special home? Be a Venetian living in Dorsoduro, I guess.

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Filed under Venice