We booked the trip on Expedia.com. It was a great price, non-stop flight and hotel for $850 each. Then we thought of canceling it. It's very hard for me to walk any distance now, as the post-polio weakness progresses, and then I swelled up like a balloon due to a diuretic error. Then, a terrible hacking cough that wouldn't respond to antibiotics or steroids, as my childhood asthma returned. And, of course, Dubya's irrevocable timetable for beginning the war this weekend. On top of this, we began to read reports of Venice sinking into the sea, and Piazza San Marco covered in water, with people kayaking through it. We had the option to cancel for $500 and book a nice cheap week on the beach in Punta Cana or the Mayan Riviera. But we really wanted to go to Venice, and this could be our last walking trip, so we stuck to the plan.
It didn't encourage us when one of my patients, a mathematical and astronomical expert, when he heard we were going to Venice, said, "Bring your hipboots." He explained that the moon would be new this weekend, and the tides would be at their highest, and the "Alta Acqua," or high-tide flooding would be at its peak. "That's why Bush wants to start the bombing this weekend," he explained, "When there's no moon, they can't see the planes and shoot them down." Worse yet, two days ago, the President of Serbia was assassinated. Wasn't that how World War I started? Archduke Ferdinand shot in the Balkans?
But we were committed. We took the train into New York on Friday afternoon. The ride was a pleasure, lovely scenery, and right on time. The bathrooms were clean. I was disappointed not to have anything to write a letter about.
We took a cab to the Hirschtritts, driven by a turbaned Sikh named, of course, Singh, who was a whiz of a driver, zipping us at Friday rushhour from Penn Station to the Upper East Side in 20 minutes. Marissa and Jon were both home. Josie, Marjorie, and Jonathan drove up from the East Village. Joel is healing nicely. Nancy made a delicious dinner that began with mushroom barley soup with fresh porcini mushrooms, from the recipe of Russ and Daughters. I think this was the best soup I ever had in my life. There followed a dinner of wonderful homemade hallah, roast chicken, salad, couscous, and asparagus. Joel reached into the back of the wine cellar and came out with a 1990 Gruaud-Larôse that was divine. For dessert, raspberries in rich chocolate mousse, strawberries, and hamantaschen.
Josie amused herself and us, particularly Marissa, who has a special way with young children.
The Ingall-Steuers dropped us off at the hovel and we got a good night's sleep.
On to Saturday