Situation Normal, you know what that means (Part 1)

Happily, via Garibaldi absorbs an amazing amount of foolishness. This is what looks like normal here, as banal and predictable as anything.

This is a glimpse of what passes for normal here, as banal and predictable as anything. Yet even here, folly is germinating, flowering, and being harvested every day.

In the simplest terms, Situation Normal translates as “deranged.” Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small, but normalcy here will never resemble normalcy in Normal, Illinois.

I suppose the town we’re most closely related to would be Eek, Alaska.

Starting with the disappearing snail who traversed Lino’s wool sweater, which was spread to dry yesterday on the portable scaffolding which serves as clothesline.  I washed the sweater, I put it outside, I brought it inside when the rain started, I left it on the scaffolding in the living room/library/office/parlor/game room/music room/mud room/orangery all night.  I took it outside this morning, and saw the gleaming little strands of the snail’s wake festooning the navy-blue surface.

What impelled it to work its way up the metal tube of the frame?  (I can imagine what impelled it to work its way down: There was absolutely nothing to do on the laundry after the fun of streaking slime across the clothes had worn off).  And where was the scaffolding when the creature began its epic adventure?  Which means: Did he come in from the rain along with the underwear and dishtowels?  If not, where did he join my textiles?  And where did he go when he left?  Or is he still here?

What drew him to the dripping garment?  (Well, maybe it wasn’t still dripping at that point.) Do I now have to add “snail repellent” to the fatal products aimed at mosquitoes, ants and flies?

I pondered all those things as I washed the sweater again, put it out on a higher level than before, and left it to go through the dripping stage yet again.  I’m not so annoyed about the snail himself, but he made me lose 18 hours of precious drying time. This is unpardonable.

Speaking of drying, we are living a period of extreme and widespread humidity.  We’ve had fog, rain, and mist, plus indeterminate watery vectors for weeks and weeks.  Even when the sun is shining, the air is humid.  We have to do hand-to-hand combat with the front door to open and close it, the wood is so swollen with damp. But I refuse to turn on the heat until driven to do so; the gas company sucks out what little blood and lymph are left in our bank account with a voracity even a vampire can’t match.  Vampires are thirsty only at night, while the gas company is slurping away night and day, even when all the gas is turned off.

I’m finished with that now.

This curious creature looks just as home here as all the rest of the other odd bipeds. I like the two dragontails, and the oak-leaf underwing is a nice touch, but I'm concerned about his feet. Somebody couldn't decide if he should have claws or the dactyls of a hippopotamus.

This curious creature looks just as home here as all the rest of the other odd bipeds. I like the two dragontails, and the oak leaves are a nice touch, but I’m concerned about his feet. Somebody couldn’t decide if he should have claws or the dactyls of a hippopotamus.

Let’s talk about other craziness.  Today’s newspaper contains an article about the discovery of a barber in the town of Rovigo who has been working for 23 years without a license, and without paying any taxes.  No license?  No problem!  No taxes?  Big, multifarious, expensive problems!  But it’s just another example of Zwingle’s Eighth Law, which states “Everything is fine until it’s not.”  He had a fantastic run, after all.  Five days a week times 52 weeks (I’m not giving him a vacation) times 23 years comes to 5,980 tax-free days.  He must have been known as the Smiling Barber.

But that’s also a lot of days for no Finance Police-person, or local police-person, or firefighter or exterminator or anyone in any kind of uniform to EVER have asked, even once, to see his books or his diploma.  That’s more disturbing than the thought of an unlicensed person wielding razor and shears, even though we know that there are plenty of licensed people who aren’t very handy with sharp objects either.

Unlicensed practitioners, even tax-paying ones, keep turning up.  Every so often there’s a story about a gynecologist or dentist or surgeon (not made up) who is discovered to have been working peacefully and lucratively for years thanks to innate genius, sheer luck, or whatever he could pick up via some YouTube video clips.

So far, these stories have concerned only men.  I’m not being sexist, I’m just reporting. Women are usually too busy being beaten, abused, and killed by their so-called loved ones to have any time left over to cheat on their taxes.

Speaking of love, a man in Cavarzere, a small town just over there, had been ignoring the restraining order imposed on him for his persistent persecution of his wife; she moved out and even changed towns, but he followed her, and the other night he swerved in front of her car and stopped, but she fled into a bar and called the carabinieri.  When they went to his house, they discovered a homemade casket sitting there, all ready for her.

No point feeling sorry for the little mullet when he's already cooked.  But I do.

No point feeling sorry for the little mullet when he’s already cooked. But I do. He’s the ichthyological version of “The Scream.”

Since today’s cadenza is in the key of Crazy, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned the vaporettos. The moment has arrived.

We know that there aren’t enough of them and that most of the year has passed to the soundtrack of the suffering groans of infinite numbers of people trying to get from here to there on a vehicle that is approximately 1/2,948th of the space needed.

But the right hook-left uppercut which the ACTV dealt to the traveling public in the past four days has finally inspired enraged calls for Ugo Bergamo, the Assessore (City Council-member) for Mobility, to resign and go far away to somewhere in South Asia and cultivate ylang-ylang.  (Made up.)  (The rage isn’t made up, though.)

First it was the long holiday weekend (Nov. 1-4) which gave untold thousands the great idea to come to Venice and spend the day looking at bridges and canals. According to what I could hear just listening to the people shuffling past on the Strada Nuova, many were Italians who probably didn’t have far to travel and were going home that night. But there was a honking great lot of them.

Yet even more people weren’t shuffling; they were trying to take the waterbus. When the terrifyingly overloaded vehicles arrived and tied up at certain stops for the exchange of prisoners, hundreds of exasperated people were still trying to get aboard even when there was no space left even for a hiccup.When they were left on the dock, at least at the Rialto stop, they began pushing and yelling and coming to blows.

Mr. Bergamo acknowledged the drama, but said that nobody, including himself, had ever imagined there would be that many people coming to Venice. If I were a judge, I’d make that defense qualify as contempt of court. You’re living in one of the major tourist cities of the globe, but you can’t imagine that untold thousands of people will come on a holiday weekend? Can he imagine water running downhill?  Can he imagine beans giving him gas?

Second, on Monday it was the students and commuters who took the hit. On November 3, the transport schedule changes. Except that this year, all the distress about there being too much traffic in the Grand Canal (think: August 17) has led to the cutting of some runs.  Good idea, except that cutting to solve one problem has created another.

Because the ACTVmade a major cut in the slice of time with the heaviest traffic.  If you wanted to go to school or work last Monday (unlikely that you wanted to go, I know), you were inevitably traveling between 7:00 and 9:00 AM. But the new schedule for that time period suddenly didn’t offer 11 vaporettos.  There were five.

Mr. Bergamo says that’s going to be fixed. I guess he suddenly imagined that there weren’t enough vaporettos between 7:00 and 9:00.

I don’t understand fixing problems you could have avoided creating.  Zwingle is going to have to formulate a Law that covers that.

This is what I think normal ought to look like.

This is what I think normal ought to look like.


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  1. Erla…thank goodness I reread your post on my computer and had closer/larger look at your photos. First glance, on my phone, I missed the giant rolling gelato ….and the toothy smile peeking out from under the tray.
    Both are hilarious!! Thanks for laughs!!
    Great observations of NORMAL…..NOT. lol
    Linda Bailey Zimmerman recently posted..~ Henry James….Venezia ~