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October 2008 Archives

October 1, 2008

After a Storm


The day before I went to Topsail, an unnamed storm blew through and even though it wasn’t powerful enough to have a name, it did quite a bit of damage. Virtually every ocean-front home had lost its stairs and/or walkways, and there was some debris laying around on the beach. All along the island, there are public access stairways that take you over the sand dunes and many of these stairs were gone, but luckily the ones closest to our house were intact. The ocean was still churned up when we arrived but it got calmer each day, and there were some beautiful bands of stormy clouds moving through. And the storm washed up some great shells!


Continue reading "After a Storm" »

October 2, 2008

Birds at the beach


It's pretty common to see dolphins swimming by at Topsail although I didn't see any this time (and I didn't get to see the turtles either), but there were lots of nice birds. I don't have a photo of the best bird sighting...I was sitting on the upper deck of the house and a big group of pelicans flew over in formation, very cool!

There was a large flock of black birds hanging out on the beach - I don't remember ever seeing them there before. I think this guy is kinda cute:


Continue reading "Birds at the beach" »

October 3, 2008

PhotoHunt: Sad


This week's theme is "sad."

Here's a sad but beautiful angel I found on San Michele in Isola, the cemetery island of Venice.

Angel on San Michele in Isola

Are we all going to have the blues after this photo hunt?! Here's a Chinese proverb to keep in mind:

"You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from passing over your head, but you can prevent their making a nest in your hair." :)

Have a good weekend!

October 5, 2008

They're Back! Gondoliers of Venice for Obama, the sequel

"To America with Love..."

Last week, Maria I posted part one of "Gondoliers of Venice for Obama" and now, they continue their campaign and are joined by a chorus! Guaranteed to make you smile. Love the others floating by and cheering for them. If I run into Roberto when I'm in Venice this winter, I'll give him a high five. And maybe Maria and Anne will be able to join "Team Obama" in Venice next week!

October 8, 2008

Scuola dei Calegheri

Across the campo from the church of San Toma is the gothic Scuola dei Calegheri (Guild of the Cobblers or Shoe-makers). There’s another beautiful Madonna della Misericordia relief on the façade of the scuola and below that, a lunette over the door that shows San Marco healing the cobbler Anianus, who'd hurt his hand while making shoes and converted to Christianity after Mark healed him (and later became a saint himself). This Renaissance relief was sculpted by Pietro Lombardo, who may have copied a drawing by master painter Giovanni Bellini.

This is the scuola, with the Frari campanile behind it:

Scuola dei Calegheri

The Madonna della Misericordia on the facade:

Madonna della Misericordia

Continue reading "Scuola dei Calegheri" »

October 10, 2008

PhotoHunt: Lazy


This week's theme is "lazy."

Somewhere along the way, being lazy got an undeserved bad rap (busy=good, lazy=bad). I don't agree! Regular bouts of laziness are healthy, essential, and good for the soul.

Here’s one of my favorite places to be lazy:


Hope that everyone has a nice (and lazy) weekend!

October 14, 2008

Barack to the Future!

A few photos from the Cookout for Change that I went to a few weeks ago. There was a bake sale for Obama and a lemonade stand and a bunch of very cute kids.

There is no doubt in my mind that Obama/Biden are the candidates who will do more to ensure that these kids have a bright future.



Continue reading "Barack to the Future!" »

October 15, 2008

Rialto Bridge shrine

This shrine to the Madonna is at the base of the Rialto Bridge, on the San Polo side. She's a bit worse for wear but there are always lots of flowers in front of her.


Rialto Bridge madonna

Venice Explorer has photos of this Madonna (scroll down to bottom right corner) as part of the evidence for their campaign to save Venice from the effects of sulphur created by gas-powered boats. It's pretty incredible to see how much this Madonna has deteriorated since 1976.

Continue reading "Rialto Bridge shrine" »

October 16, 2008

The Polls are Open in NC!

When and where to Vote in North Carolina on Nov. 4: Click Here to find your polling place

NC State Board of Elections: Tuesday, Nov. 4, polls open at 6:30 AM and close at 7:30 pm


Locations and Hours for Early Voting In North Carolina

I voted today! When I got to work this morning, the lines at the precinct were very long so I kept looking out the window and walked over there when it looked like they had gotten a little bit shorter. It wasn’t bad at all, only about a 15-minute wait, and it was a lot of fun to talk to the other people in line. The mood can only be described as jubilant. I shook hands with a very sweet older gentleman who was wearing a "Veterans for Obama" button. Everyone was clapping and cheering for the first-time voters. I got a little teary-eyed at one point. And then after I’d marked my ballot, I said a prayer for the safety and well-being of Obama, and for peace on earth and good will towards people, animals, and the environment. Then I turned my ballot in and got my sticker which says “I voted early” and “I made freedom count.”

Oh, and I got polled last night! About 10 minutes before the debate, I got a phone call, and I made the pollster laugh when we got to the part where you have to define how certain you are about your candidate (very certain, somewhat certain, etc.). I interrupted her and said “one hundred thousand percent certain that I’ll be voting for Barack Obama tomorrow.” I was glad they called me!

Turn It Blue, North Carolina!


October 17, 2008

PhotoHunt: Family


This week's theme is "family."

Here are my nephews displaying Brotherly Love. Being an aunt to these two is so much fun! I'm lucky to be in a family with them.


Happy weekend and happy photo hunting!

October 20, 2008

Shrines in "Bread and Tulips"

Thanks to SandraC for the idea for this post! I rented the film "Agata e la Tempesta" after reading Sandra's review of it. Wonderful movie! I really loved it and seeing it inspired me to rent "Pane e Tulipani" (Bread and Tulips) again since it had been several years since I'd watched that one. Both films are by director Silvio Soldini, and both star the beautiful Italian actress Licia Maglietta.

Well, I know Venice better than I did the first time I saw "Bread and Tulips," and I saw two shrines in the movie that I'd taken photos of when I was in Venice last year. When I mentioned this to Sandra, she suggested that I post the photos on my blog, so here they are!

This first shrine is in the scene where Rosalba meets the plumber/detective who her husband had hired to track her down in Venice. They agreed to meet in Campo do Pozzi (campo with two wells) which is a real campo in Castello where this shrine is. It's hard to tell in my photo but the Madonna inside this shrine is the one from Titian's painting of the Assunta.

street shrine2

And then when Rosalba runs away and the bumbling "detective" tries to follow her, they go by this shrine, also in Castello.

bread and tulips shrine

Thanks to Sandra for recommending "Agata." Both of these movies are a perfect way for Italy lovers to get a fix in between trips. Sandra is currently blogging about her recent trip to Umbria and Tuscany; she has some wonderful photos and stories about many off-the-beaten-path towns and churches that she visited, so check her blog out too if you need an Italy fix!

October 21, 2008

News from a battleground state

jamestaylor.jpgSinger/songwriter James Taylor returned home to do five free “Change We Need” concerts here in North Carolina this week, and last night I went to the one on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill. Thousands of people gathered to hear JT, one of North Carolina’s favorite sons, and to join him in support of Barack Obama. James Taylor doesn’t live in NC anymore but he grew up in Chapel Hill and as he told us last night, he still considers himself a Tar Heel. He said that it's so wonderful for North Carolina to finally be a battleground state and that the fact that we are on the cusp of turning it blue is “truly miraculous.” I'm grateful to him for coming home to help "get out the vote." The message of the night was “vote early” so that the lines won’t be too long on Election Day (since long lines might impact people who have to get to work and don’t have time to wait in line).

JT opened with a lovely version of "America the Beautiful" and then sang many of his best and most famous songs (Fire and Rain, Sweet Baby James, You Got a Friend). He led the crowd in this cool Obama chant with a funky gospel vibe,which was lots of fun. He doesn't look quite the same as he did on the album cover above (which my parents bought in the late 60's and I actually still have) but his voice is just as sweet and beautiful as ever.

He saved the best for last: "Carolina in My Mind," the greatest song ever written about North Carolina, and just a perfect heartfelt song about that bittersweet yearning you can have for a place you love. I've alway loved that song and it's even the title of one of my blog categories!

So the whole evening was wonderful and inspiring, and I left feeling a lot of hope.

And then…

Continue reading "News from a battleground state" »

October 22, 2008

A few things to smile about

Here's a little collection of stuff that makes me happy.

106-year-old voter chooses Obama
Love this article from the BBC. Go Sister Cecilia!

"A 106-year-old American nun living in a convent in Rome could well be one of the oldest voters to cast a ballot in the 2008 US Presidential election.
Sister Cecilia Gaudette, who last voted for President Eisenhower in 1952, has registered to vote and says she will vote for Democrat Barack Obama."

And you gotta love these guys! Their homepage has a great photo of Obama walking up to meet them, and he is cracking up!
Rednecks for Obama
“We Hunt, Fish, Drink Beer, and Support Barack Obama”

And just this week, I've started seeing this message on signs and bumper stickers around here. Hope it ends up being true!


Continue reading "A few things to smile about" »

October 23, 2008

Opie and Andy (and others) endorse Obama


North Carolina doesn't have that many celebrities but one of the most iconic is actor Andy Griffith, who was born and raised here, went to UNC-Chapel Hill, and then starred in the classic TV show set in the fictional North Carolina town of Mayberry.

Well, yesterday Andy joined director Ron Howard (who played his son Opie on the show) in this video endorsing Barack Obama. It's getting lots of press here in NC in the papers and on the local TV news. One local writer wonders if the "Mayberry Miracle" will be the thing that pushes NC over into the blue!

It's a great video. I got a little choked up when I heard that "Andy Griffith Show" theme song! Kudos to Ron Howard for making this. And after Ron revisits Andy and Mayberry, he reprises his role as Ritchie Cunningham and gets The Fonz to endorse Obama too! Happy Days!

The photo at the top is the endorsement from the Raleigh News and Observer that was published last weekend.

dean_smith.jpgAnd this endorsement is one that's really close to my heart since Coach Dean Smith is one of my heroes. Not just because he coached my Tar Heels for 36 years and is the greatest basketball coach of all time, but also because he's a kind and compassionate man who has done so much for North Carolina above and beyond giving us many years of excellent basketball. A few facts from his Wikipedia page:

"Smith is also known for running a clean program and having a high graduation rate for his players with 96.6% players going on to graduate. Smith is one of the most prominent liberals in North Carolina politics. Politically, he is best known for promoting desegregation...In 1964, Smith joined a local pastor and a black North Carolina theology student to integrate The Pines, a Chapel Hill restaurant. He also integrated the Tar Heels basketball team by recruiting Charlie Scott as the university's first black scholarship athlete.

While coach, he was recruited by some in the Democratic Party to run for the United States Senate against incumbent Jesse Helms. He declined. But in retirement, he has continued to speak out on issues such as the war in Iraq, death penalty and gay rights. In 2006, Smith became the spokesperson for Devout Democrats, an inter-faith, grassroots political action committee designed to convince religious Americans to vote for Democrats."

Here is the text of Coach Smith's endorsement:

Continue reading "Opie and Andy (and others) endorse Obama" »

October 24, 2008

PhotoHunt: Scary


This week's theme is "scary"


This stone face is in Venice on the church of Santa Maria Formosa, over the entrance to the bell tower. It’s meant to be scary although these days, most people just find it funky and interesting.

But back in the Middle Ages, people believed that church bell towers were particularly vulnerable to invasion by evil spirits (maybe because the towers were often getting struck by lightning or falling down). So a tradition began of putting some kind of protective sculptural image on the towers.

Some bell towers have benevolent images like saints or angels, but others, like this one, have grotesque images designed to frighten the demons away.

In the photo on the left, you can see it over the door. On the right, the beautiful tower that it’s been protecting for over 300 years.

SMFface2.jpg smftower.jpg

Happy weekend and have a nice Halloween next week!

October 25, 2008

Santa Maria della Visitazione

SMdV and Gesuati

Hang on, this might be a little confusing. There are two churches in Venice with this name, and this is the one on the Zattere, that great waterfront promenade in Dorsoduro, not the one also known as La Pieta (or the Vivaldi church) that’s on the Riva degli Schiavoni in Castello.

And to make it even more confusing, this church was known as the Gesuati until the Dominicans built the larger church next door which took the name (and the best art), but the Gesuati (Santa Maria del Rosario) should not be confused with the Gesuiti (Santa Maria Assunta), another big white Baroque church up in Cannaregio. Whew!

Anyway, the photo above shows the Zattere, with this Santa Maria della Visitazione on the left and the larger Gesuati to the right. The first church on the locale was built in the early 1400’s by the Jesuate order from Siena and was dedicated to St. Jerome (San Girolamo dei Gesuati). The church was rebuilt in 1493-1524 and rededicated to Our Lady of the Visitation (which refers to Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist).


It’s a pretty little Renaissance church, though no one is quite sure who the architect was; both Mauro Condussi and Tuilio Lombardo are given credit for at least parts of the design. The Jesuate order also built a monastery with several cloisters beside and behind the church. The order was suppressed in 1668, and the Dominicans took over the complex and soon decided they needed a larger church. Instead of demolishing the smaller church, they built next door and left the older church standing, which is pretty unusual for Venice.

don orioneFor a while, the old church was a library and then the entire religious complex was suppressed by the French in the early 19th century. Santa Maria della Visitazione eventually reopened as a church and today, it’s the oratory for the Istituto Don Orione, who have turned the monastery into a conference center and “modern” religious guest house with free Wifi in the open air cloisters. I met some folks who had stayed there, and they said that it’s quite nice, spartan but clean, and fairly inexpensive considering its primo location on the Zattere. The Institute's website has a partial aerial view and also some nice shots of the cloisters. The photo to the left shows a sculpture of Don Orione that's inside the church.

There was no one in attendance when I visited this church; instead, there was a sign saying “You’re being monitored by video camera.” So modern! It’s a sweet little place. Its best painting, a gorgeous Tintoretto “Crucifixion,” has been moved to the bigger church, but it’s worth going in this one to look at the wooden coffered ceiling – a nice Tuscan (or Umbrian) Renaissance work with little portraits of 58 saints and prophets and a medallion of the Visitation in the center.

This church has a “bocca di leone” on its façade; this one is where people could lodge their complaints about sanitation problems.

Santa Maria della Visitazione

These nice monks are on the church's entrance:

Santa Maria della Visitazione

Santa Maria della Visitazione

To visit this church

8-12, 3-6 daily

Painting below by Rubens Santoro (1859 -1942)

S. Maria della Visitazione and S. Maria del Rosario, Venice


Continue reading "Santa Maria della Visitazione" »

October 27, 2008

Creative Campaigning


It’s so interesting to see all the creativity inspired by Obama. It’s one thing to slap a bumper sticker on the car or put a pre-fab sign in the yard, but I continue to see hand-made signs and various other inspired ways that people are showing their support. It’s very cool that people are so enthusiastic that they take the time to create something personal and unique. It gives me a lot of hope!

Here are a few signs that I’ve seen here in NC...

Continue reading "Creative Campaigning" »

October 30, 2008

Brighter days are coming...


That's what Obama said yesterday and I swear, I'm starting to believe him. We will know for sure next week!

I joined 28,000 of my fellow North Carolinians at the Obama rally in downtown Raleigh yesterday. It was so wonderful to get to hear him in person! Notice that I said "hear" not "see" because I was very far away from the stage! I took some photos and well, you gotta trust me on this, he’s in the photo below. LOL. The Raleigh News and Observer has a slide show here with some nice close-ups of him.


Continue reading "Brighter days are coming..." »

October 31, 2008

PhotoHunt: Blue


This week's theme is "blue."

Raindrops/roses, whiskers/kittens...blue satin sashes, etc.
Here are a couple of my favorite BLUE things in Venice.

Nov. 4, 2008: Make History

street shrine1


Happy Halloween, Happy Weekend, and Happy Hunting!
Find more photo hunters here.

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