(April 23, 2014)
Wednesday we went to the Islands. One at least: Murano. We meant to do more, to do a whole circle of them, but once again slept in and had a slow-starting morning. (I guess it took just about three weeks for me to get on ‘vacation time’.)
Before I start, let me say that the vaporetto system is generally great, but not all that easy to figure out. J did a great job both in reading the map, and then remaining calm in the face of my being dead wrong about what was going to happen.
That said, the ride to Murano was just lovely. being on the water, and having wide open space around us made a welcome change from the walkways of Venice. Our mask maker had given us a map of artisans in Venice and Murano — a group of people who pledged to use local materials and techniques instead of mass-production or foreign inventory. (A lot of the glass made in Murano comes from China, for example.) So we used this map to guide us past the many (MANY) places selling glass and to a place that was for real.
At Simone Cendese, we found a pair of lovely sconces in a dark brown that would be perfect in our bedroom. A bright red glorious flame of a chandelier begged to be put in our hallway. J fell head over heels for a gold and other colored jellyfish suspended a chunk of glass. Egads it was glorious, and we managed to escape with promises . . . but plans for perhaps doing a bit of layaway. Or looking in Seattle. :-)
Let me hand over the keyboard to my darling husband for a moment, as he tells you a story.
Hi! Right. Had to ask the missus which story I was telling; there are many, and I wasn’t sure why I was needed to tell you about the mediocre scallops I had for lunch. Turns out I’m supposed to skip lunch and move it on a bit. So, after getting lost on an island the size of our neighborhood (stop looking at me like that, sweetie, we got a teeny bit lost and ended up 10 feet from the store we started at) and having a mediocre lunch (hers was better actually), we scooted north through Murano to another authentic craftsman shop. In fact they even had a sign on the wall outside that said “You may notice that our prices aren’t as low as many that you have seen in Murano. This is because none of our pieces are from China.” Soooo yeah, either a great b.s. line or they were legit. It was a much smaller shop than the other place we went to, more “typical” jewelry, frames, and the like rather than the large art pieces and such from the 1st joint. A very nice woman gave us space to poke about. It didn’t take long for me to say “oh wow,” and when Lisa said “the red and gold plate? Yeah, I wouldn’t say ‘no’,” before I even pointed it out to her, I knew I was in trouble. While I chewed on my thoughts, Lisa poked around a bit and finally said the magic word I had been waiting for all day: “oooOOoooo.”:
Now, by her birthday last year (that’s early September) we already knew that we were traveling to Venice, so I had bought her a nice pendant of ostensibly genuine Murano glass that came with a promise to replace it (or supplement it, I suppose) with something sourced locally. I just meant it as a way to give her happy thoughts of upcoming travel whenever she wore it. Well, she and I had talked about it once or twice once we reached Venice – as it turned out she’d become very fond of the pendant on its own merits and wasn’t all that focused on an upgrade. Well, ok, I’d say, but if you see something you really like, I am sworn to honor my promise. (It’s not really that dramatic, buying something pretty for my wife isn’t whatcha call a chore.) As my boss says, I told you all that to tell you this: she spied some matching earrings and pendant sets and said “oooOOoooo.” The pendants she could take or leave, but the earrings were right up her alley and came in a variety of colors. I even made it a little less of a strictly-mercenary affair by helping to select and find the shade of blue that pleased her best. They don’t match her original pendant, but as Lisa pointed out she doesn’t really wear matched sets anyway, so what the hell. Promise kept, and I didn’t even have to spend all day at a men’s prayer rally.
Having set the earrings aside, I still couldn’t stop looking back at the plate I’d seen. As I said to Lisa a couple minutes later as I stood pondering, “really, all I’m doing now is delaying the moment when I say “I’ll take it,” so let’s just do this thing.” An amusing postscript to this little jaunt was Lisa pointing at a frankly gorgeous, much larger (and more expensive) platter that was displayed right underneath the cash wrap. “Did you see that one?” she asked me. “God yes, I’ve been resisting even peeking at it again, how much do you want me to spend here today?” She looked at me like she was about to entertain the notion (and I’m telling you, my covetousness was bordering on the sacrilegious at this point) when I remembered, and pointed out to her, that the one obvious place to display such a beautiful piece had already been taken, earlier this trip, by a hand-painted ceramic platter we had bought in Perugia. Whew. (I still took a photo and got a business card. You know, just in case.) And so, reasonably priced (comparatively) tokens of our time in Murano secured, we moved on.
We had a long ride home, standing all of the way, but enjoying the water and breeze (for the most part). Dinner was a last one of pizza at our local place, and then a bit of Dr. Who to top it off.
The city of the dreams of my youth was a wonderful as I wanted it to be.