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September 2008 Archives

September 2, 2008

Sister Wendy

The experiential test of whether this art is great or good, or minor or abysmal, is the effect it has on your own sense of the world and of yourself. Great art changes you. – Sister Wendy Beckett

Story of PaintingThe inspiration for this blog entry came from a discussion in the comments over at SandraC’s blog that made me want to introduce Sister Wendy to anyone who hasn't "met" her yet! “Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting” is a BBC series that I watched on PBS when it was first shown in the 1990’s and then I bought the videotapes so I could watch it again and again. It's such an awesome series. Sister Wendy is one of my heroes because she talks about art from her heart and from the perspective of the bigger picture (why art is important, how art can enrich our lives). She's such a fascinating woman and a great teacher.

But what an unlikely TV personality she is! Sister Wendy lives a “contemplative life” of complete seclusion and prayer in a little trailer on the grounds of a monastery in the U.K. She became a nun at age 16, went to university and taught for a while, and then in 1970 at age 40, she went into seclusion. A contemplative life includes two hours of work a day, and Sister Wendy’s work for several decades was studying art on her own. She published a few articles and somehow was discovered by the BBC who took her on the road all over Europe (and later, America) to make these wonderful shows.

She’s an amazingly free thinker (for a nun!), a great storyteller, and she can be very funny and surprising. One thing that makes the series so powerful, I think, is the fact that she’s such an art lover and when they were filming her, she was seeing many of her favorite paintings for the first time in person, and you can tell that she’s very moved at times.

Continue reading "Sister Wendy" »

September 4, 2008

Time for another look at Maria and LuLu

I was telling Kathy (Trekcapri) about how Maria has claimed an empty basket on my desk as one of her places to snooze. Kathy is seriously thinking about adopting a kitten or two after she returns from Spain this fall, so I think I need to keep posting cute photos for her! I'm really looking forward to reading all about her trip and about her kitten(s) when she gets them.

And if you want to read a very fun and informative Venice Trip Report, check out Kathy's report from her trip last year - "Venice Re-Discovered." Great job, Kathy (and the photos are wonderful too).

So when I first got Maria the kitten, she had blue eyes. I've since learned that many kittens start with blue eyes that later change colors, like hers have.


More cat photos below...

Continue reading "Time for another look at Maria and LuLu" »

September 6, 2008

PhotoHunt: String(s)


This week's theme is "strings." I've been looking for some interesting strings for a week now and just haven't found anything. Where are all the cool strings?!? Fortunately I did find some in the archives.

Strings of beads:


String instruments on a sand sculpture:


Happy weekend to all! Tropical Storm Hanna is blowing through as I type this (8 AM eastern) and it's raining pretty hard and the wind is loud. Hope everyone is okay out there (I'm fine).

4 pm update: Hanna's gone and the sun is out - yay! We got a ton of rain and there's some flooding in parts of the state but overall, it wasn't too bad of a storm.

September 7, 2008

Vera da pozzo

Corte ZorziA vera da pozzo is a well or well-head, and there are so many of these things all over Venice that it’s easy to stop noticing them after a while. They aren’t true wells, they're cisterns that were used for collecting and filtering rainwater and until the mid-1800’s, they were the only source of fresh water in the city. During times of drought, the Republic would haul water in by barge and fill these up. After Venice was connected to an aqueduct on the mainland, many of these were removed and the remaining ones covered over, but there are still a bunch of them around and many of them are very beautiful.

In “Strolling through Venice,” John Freely writes that there used to be 6,782 of these wells; today, there are hundreds still to be seen in public places. He identifies and dates many of them in the walking tours in his book. Some of them are decorated with carvings and reliefs, and I try to remember to look at the ones close to churches because they usually have some art connected to the church’s name saint.

According to Freely, this one used to be a baptismal font in a church.

former baptismal font

This very worn but sweet relief shows Tobias and the Angel (Archangel Raphael) and is on a well by the church of Angelo Raffaele in Dorsoduro.

Raphael and Tobias

This relief of Archangel Gabriel carrying the annunciation lily is on the vera da pozzo in Campo Sant’ Angelo in sestiere San Marco.

Annunciation (Gabriel with lily)

This relief shows Saint George and the Dragon; it’s on the well next to the church of San Giorgio dei Greci in Castello.

vera da pozzo

A 19th century photo by Carlo Naya showing folks getting water from one of the bronze wells in the courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale.


Update: here's a link to Anne's wonderful post about "The Lady of the Well" that we were discussing in the comments below.

September 8, 2008

The Forty-Three Meme

Deborah at Old Shoes-New Trip posted a list of 43 city squares, plazas, and piazzas from around the world. She tagged her SlowTravel friends and travel blog readers to see how many of these places they have visited.

The rules:

Copy this list into your own blog and put an asterisk after each city square you've actually spent time in. (Riding past in a taxi or bus doesn't count.) Please include a link back to Old Shoes-New Trip in your own entry and then leave a comment on Deborah's post so she can find your blog and admire your count.

piazza san marcoLike many other Slow Travelers, my list is heavy on Italy. I've only been to 12 of the 43 places. Do multiple visits to the same place count extra?!

Speaking of return visits, my big news is that I bought my plane ticket this weekend and will be going to Venice this December!

Read on for my list:

Continue reading "The Forty-Three Meme" »

September 10, 2008

Turn It Blue

TurnItBlue“Turn It Blue” is a sports slogan/rally cry for my beloved UNC Tar Heels but during this election year, it has another meaning for me.

I’ve written before about how the state of North Carolina is absolutely basketball crazy and obsessed. Last week I went for a walk during lunch and saw this homemade campaign sign on the side of a vacant building, and I had to laugh. Only in North Carolina!?! Kudos to whoever made this:


Continue reading "Turn It Blue" »

September 13, 2008

PhotoHunt: Wild


This week's theme is "wild.' You can find more PhotoHunters Happy weekend!


"Nature alone is antique and the oldest art a mushroom."
---Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

Continue reading "PhotoHunt: Wild" »

September 14, 2008

Summer at the Farmer's Market


Summer is probably my least favorite season for three reasons - heat, humidity, and bugs. It hasn't been too horribly hot this year and the drought is over, thank goodness, but the bugs have been particularly vicious this summer. But it's worth the sweat and bug bites to be able to eat summer vegetables like the ones in the photo above, which shows all the stuff I brought home from the Farmer's Market a couple weeks ago. What a haul: cukes, squash (green and yellow), peppers, eggplant, three kinds of beans (green, yellow wax, and Roma), figs, and tomatoes.

Not in the picture but something else I buy every week is cheese. Our farmer's market now has three local cheese makers who sell some truly delicious stuff that's almost as good as the cheese you get in Italy.

The October 2008 issue of Bon Appetit magazine has an article called "America's Foodiest Small Town" and it's all about my area (Durham - Chapel Hill) and has interviews with some of the farmers that I buy from every week. Pretty cool. I like this part:

"Durham and Chapel Hill—united by an eight-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 15-501—are best known for two things: tobacco and their utter hatred for one another's college basketball teams, the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels. But to many they are considered one and the same. And after spending several days meeting farmers like Stuart and Alice, visiting restaurants and farmers' markets, and eating up the wildly diverse culinary scene, I was beginning to think food—not hoops—was the area's outstanding asset."

It's pretty exciting that we've got such a great food scene with so much emphasis on local/organic/sustainable. I seldom go the supermarket any more - I buy pretty much everything I eat at the Farmer's Market and Costco.

Previous posts:

Farmer's Market Report #1
Spring at the Farmer's Market

Coming up soon: Fall! I'm ready to feel that autumn nip in the air but I sure will miss the tomatoes.

September 16, 2008

Peach Sherbet

peach sherbet

This is the latest variation of the Buttermilk Sherbet recipe, and I think it might be the best one yet. I was lucky to find some perfectly sweet peaches at the farmer’s market.

Peach Sherbet

2 cups sliced peeled fresh peaches (to puree)
2 cups buttermilk (I used organic low-fat)
¾ cup agave nectar (or 1 cup sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup diced fresh peaches (save these to add at the end of churning)

Peel the peaches by cutting an “X” in the bottom and dropping them into boiling water for a minute. Drain and run under cold water to cool, and then pull the peel off. Remove the pit and slice.

Puree 2 cups of peach slices in the food processor and then mix with the next three ingredients. Chill mixture in fridge for one hour. Then put it in the ice cream maker and turn it on.

At the very end, add the 1 cup of diced peaches and churn for one minute more to mix them in.

Continue reading "Peach Sherbet" »

September 18, 2008

Shrine with mops

shrine with mops1shrine with mops2

A sweet little San Antonio shrine in a corte in Cannaregio. Love those mops to the side. This one has so many flowers!

shrine flowers

September 19, 2008

PhotoHunt: Road


This week's theme is "road."

These are photos from a road trip I took to a charming Roadside Attraction in Prospect Hill, NC.

This miniature stone village was built by North Carolina farmer Henry L. Warren (1883-1978) with help from his neighbor Junius Pennix. The village consists of 27 small buildings that include a church, a hospital, a hotel, and a mill with a waterwheel. Mr. Warren named his little village Shangri-la.

Mr. Warren began building Shangri-la in 1968 when he was 75 years old and worked on it for the next nine years until he died at age 84. The village is made of white quartz and other stone that Mr. Warren found on his farmland. I love this place so much! Happy weekend to all.

The road by Shangri-la:




More photos below:

Continue reading "PhotoHunt: Road" »

September 25, 2008

Ancient Mysteries: The Miraculous Canals of Venice

Ancient%20mysteries.jpgThis is an episode of an A&E television series, filmed in 2005 and hosted by Leonard Nimoy, aka Spock. I rented it from Netflix.

Fascinating show – I recommend this one to anyone who loves Venice. Some beautiful scenery, of course, but also an excellent explanation of how such a magnificent city was built on what is essentially a big mucky swampy lagoon.

The show emphasizes how very improbable it is that a city was created in such a hostile environment with no fresh water, no building materials, and no place to grow food. The early Venetians fled into the lagoon around 400 AD to escape barbarians invading the mainland, and the seed of Venice’s eventual wealth was salt, the first product that the Venetians traded. At that time, salt was “edible gold” and much in demand not only for cooking but also for its ability to preserve food. And in order to sell their salt, the Venetians had to become expert boatsmen (and boat builders) and it all evolved from there.

Continue reading "Ancient Mysteries: The Miraculous Canals of Venice" »

September 26, 2008

PhotoHunt: View


This week's theme is "view."

LuLu's "Room with a View"


I'm posting early this week since I'm going to be unplugged for a couple of days. Will visit everyone's PhotoHunt posts when I get back on line. Happy weekend!

September 27, 2008

San Toma

San Toma

No longer open to the public, this church is worth visiting anyway just because this neighborhood is so nice and also to see the beautiful relief of the Madonna on the outside of the church.

The church is dedicated to San Tommaso Apostolo (the apostle Thomas, famous for doubting). Originally built in the tenth century, the church has been restructured several times since, most recently in 1742. The façade designed by Longhena was added in 1660 and rebuilt a century later when it was on the verge of falling off.

On the right side of the church is the sarcophagus of Giovanni Priuli, a 14th century war hero and senator. Hard to photograph, but his feet are resting on a small dog. On the left side is one of the most beautiful Madonnas in town, a gothic relief of the Madonna della Misericordia. Gorgeous.

San Toma Madonna

Continue reading "San Toma" »

September 28, 2008

Sunrise at Topsail Island this morning

sunrise at Topsail

September 30, 2008

Topsail Island/Surf City


Anne (andasamo) asked me where Topsail Island is, so here's the answer! It’s on the coast of North Carolina, about two and a half hours from where I live, so it’s a quick and easy trip to go down there for a long weekend like I did last week.

I love the beach. When I was a kid, that was always the destination for our family vacations – we would spend a week or two at either a North or South Carolina beach every summer.

North Carolina has a lot of nice beaches but Topsail is my favorite because it reminds me the most of how the beach was when I was young. It’s not over-developed and there are no ugly high-rise hotels, it’s mainly just cottages. And there’s not much to do except commune with the ocean, swim, walk, fish, or just lay around and read, so it’s very relaxing and renewing. I love the salty smell of the beach and the sound of the waves crashing, and I love to go for long walks and look for seashells. Fall is a perfect time to go because it’s still plenty warm, but vacation season is over so there aren’t a lot of people there.


Continue reading "Topsail Island/Surf City" »

This page contains all entries posted to Churches in Venice in September 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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