I'll Catch up a bit with news from my vacation first, and then at the end tell you about more recent happenings.
May 5th we took the train from Rome to Venice and had quite an adventure finding our next bed and breakfast! I'll spare you the full story with all the details, but in the end it was dark and we were lost and a nice lady we met on the sidewalk drove us there. Now, we kinda think this woman was a cop. She walked like a cop. Talked like a cop. And wasn't going to stand for us wandering around that neighborhood in the dark for anything. So, we let her drive us there, and it's a good thing she did, because just as we were taking the luggage out of the car, a strange guy approached us and tried to insist he was the "porter" for our hotel (do we look like we were born yesterday!?). Fortunately, we had Anne-Lucia (as we took to calling her, since we don't know her real name). She told him what was what and rang some doorbells to get rid of him. She could have taken him if she'd wanted to though. He was scrawny and a bit out of his mind, and she looked like she could have had him in a headlock in no time flat, but still, Ashley and I were REALLY happy to be finally in our room with the door locked that night.
After that we had no further incidents. We had two full, fun days in Venice. Our first day there, we saw St. Mark's Basilica (the part you don't have to pay to see), the Doge's Palace and another museum at the st. Mark's square. We were a bit tired of art and statues by the end, but it was interesting to compare Venice's art with Rome's. Venice really shows its Byzantine influences in the gold mosaics on the ceiling of st. Mark's and the paintings of Mary and Jesus. Rome shows its classical influences much more. Another interesting thing about Venetian art is that almost every picture has Venice in the background! Here's a picture of Mary and Jesus, and there's the Venice skyline on the horizon! Here's a picture of the apostle Paul, and what city is he by? Venice of course. And people think Americans are patriotic! Kind of funny.
One of the things we saw in a museum whose name I forget was a giant print of the Venice cityscape with the original blocks of wood used to make the print! The detail was amazing--right down to the patterns of the stones in the city squares, or the style of the roof tiles on buildings. Apparently the artist had a bunch of assistant artists draw what they could see from the tops of the various bell towers in Venice, and from those drawings he compiled his block. I thought that was very interesting. That was my favorite thing in Venice I think.
That night we were thinking about going to a concert in an old church, but decided it was a bit out of our price range (this was a super budget trip remember!?). But, there happened to be a street musician playing his guitar and singing in the little square to the side of Frari Church. We dropped a few Euro in his guitar case and sat down fr a Private concert. He was Italian, about Dad's age, probably. He stopped singing and asked if we were American (we apparently don't look very Italian). We said yes, and he sang John Denver's "Country Roads" and Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" and several Simon and Garfunkel songs, all with a very charming accent. We thought it was GREAT and sang along and clapped and he chatted with us between songs. It sure beat any fancy pants concert we might have gone to.
The next day we went to the Islands of Murano and Burano and Torcello. Murano is famous for glass work and there was a place where we could watch some guys through the door of their shop while they worked. I was on a mission to pick out a necklace for Diana so we shopped for a while for some "authentic" (supposedly) murano glass pendants. I found one for myself too that's kind of pink and brown, but I need a ribbon to put it on. From Murano we took the water taxi out to Burano where they make lace. The island is cute! Well--both are. But Burano houses and shops are painted bright colors and that's fun. But Burano kind of stinks...a bit like a sewer, to be honest.
And that brings me to my next city, Paris. How does a sewer-smelling canal remind me of Paris? Well, you'll just have to read my blog again next time when I tell you all about our Paris Sewer tour.
Ok, now for more recent things. This will be the short and sweet version in the interest of time.
1) My Sisters Before Misters club is suffering decreasing membership again. Janet and Stephan are engaged, which is good, but you know...the club will feel its loss. On the up side, we get to plan a wedding! Oh the fun! Dresses, flowers, music! Bridal showers and toilet paper games! Valda and I are pretty excited about being the personal assistants-to-the-bride, and a first round of wedding dress scouting is underway as we speak.
2)It's about 10:30 pm sunday night as I write this, and in precisely two hours I will be meeting some friends in Basel and heading to Stephan's work to watch the Mars landing. Pretty exciting stuff! Mostly, I say any excuse for a party at one in the morning right before finals. Janet and I are bringing our nail polish...you know. In case we get bored.
3)Yesterday was my land lady's 40th bday party and I am pleased to report I understood not just a word or two of Swiss German, but whole conversations! Not everything, of course, but still--noticeable, vast improvements over the last family party I attended. Tomorrow I'm visiting a German class to see if I want to sign up for it for the month of June. If I do, I'll have almost four hours of German class time every day. The coordinator told me the instructor speaks no English. "Oh, that's good," I thought. But when I thought about it for about two more seconds I realized that the chances of a language teacher in Switzerland NOT speaking English are slim to none. So while they know it would help me to believe he won't understand my English...I think it's hogwash.
3)Today I taught the Elementary Sunday school class. Our topic was prayer, and the story was from Acts chapter 12 where Peter is in Jail and the believers pray for him and the angel comes and escorts him out past the guards. I talked to dad yesterday and he pointed out that the angel whacked Peter to wake him up. So I asked the kids today, "is this how your parents wake you up?" and they thought the idea was pretty funny. In fact, I'm afraid that might have been the part of the lesson that stuck--possibly more than the bit about trusting God and talking to him about the things that we need.
Class went well anyway though, and it's funny how much I find myself imitating the teachers that taught Olympians when I was little--and especially using the same teaching games and strategies Grandma used. She taught most of the lessons when I was in Olympians. While I was preparing my lesson I had such strong memories of Grandma, Hillside, and 6 years of Tuesday nights there at the Church. It really made me miss Grandma. I miss Hillside in general too, so it'll be good to be home. Gregg calls it my "30 day therapy session," which isn't a bad description of it. :)
Well, that's all for now folks! Happy Monday to y'all!