Newport Beach is the only waterway I know of outside Venice, Italy where gondoliers from different servizios actually pass each other on the water.
Believe it or not, at one point we had as many as seven different gondola companies here.
You might think this would create a rivalry,
but the truth is that we are all friends.
As I've said for years:
"Nobody understands you, and that weird thing you do,
like someone who does that weird thing too."
Gondoliers in Newport encourage their passengers to toast folks in other gondolas with raised glasses, hearty "buon giorno" and "buona sera" greetings are exchanged, and then there are the fistbumps and such.
Here you see Parker and me carrying on the fistbump tradition:
Of course there are the high-fives, hat tips,
and the occasional "high-sticking"
(where both gondoliers reach out with the ends of their oars
and whack them together).
Big thanks to Ruben J for catching this moment on camera. We have such a great job, rowing these beautiful boats in this great place.
I know, it's a catchy title. Realistically I should have gone with "Another Miracle In Providence" because this is not the first time they've done such a thing at La Gondola.
Most people these days have a very short attention span. In fact you're probably already saying "Get to it Greg! What the heck is this about?"
Alright, alright. Just, just take it easy, man.
Today's post is about a remarkable gondola restoration underway in Providence, Rhode Island. And as interesting as that might be, it's even more fantastic to watch it in the time-lapse format that they've chosen.
This is not the link. I'm just teasing you with a cool screen-grab image.
If you're able to, you should get yourself to a larger screen to watch it. You just can't appreciate it on your little smartphone. Also, get something to snack on, cut out all distractions, and watch the whole thing.
Just trust me on this.
It's a rare view into the shop of some true professionals, who will likely surprise you with just how far they break things down in the process of restoring this Tramontin gondola.
There are lots of shortcuts and easy-to-do quick fixes. You won't see any of those here.
Now click the link, bring it to full screen, and watch the first phase of restoration - the first stage of this Miracle in Providence.
My mother was born with the last name of O'Dean. She had red hair and freckles. Nothing could be more Irish than a red-haired, freckle-faced girl named Maggie O'dean, and yet we were always told that the O'dean name had come from a changed Norse name: Odin.
It seems that when the Swedish and Norwegian family first came to America, they settled into a community of Swedes who were quite puritanical and the Norwegian name Odin didn't go over too well there. The new American colony of Swedes viewed it as evil. So the patriarch of the family went out and changed it to a more socially acceptable one. The Irish were well-established in the area, so an apostrophized version seemed like a good choice. I never thought I was Irish. Then my daughter got a DNA test for her birthday. Well guess what: turns out I'm Irish after all! Not a huge percentage, but enough to explain my love for Guinness. And now I think we know where my mom got her red hair and freckles.
I asked some of my staff in Newport to get me a suitable photo for this holiday, and was quite pleased with this photo of the green-floored gondola and our own Eddie McRivera on the back.
photo by Evan O'Kliewer
So on this, my 52nd year, I finally know the truth about exactly where my ancestors came from. And I wish you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Unexpected rain on painting day? No problem. There's always other stuff to do - like sanding. Lots and lots of sanding.
Kalev and I had a stack of floorboards that we'd planned on painting today, but with all that liquid sunshine coming down, I pointed to a pile of old oars and said "that's our new project for the day." So with a playlist ranging from Patsy Cline to Pavarotti, with detours through Led Zeppelin and the B-52's, we threw a dozen remi on the bench. After choosing four oars to work on, it was time to kick up some dust (and crank up the music, of course).
Wet outside, dry inside.
photo by Kalev Pallares
Power-sanding, hand-sanding. flipping and checking.
Acetone wiping, and one last touch-up sanding.
Later I brushed on a base coat of varnish - with many more to come.
As the sun set behind the buildings across the water from our docks, I caught this shot of John Kerschbaum from Gondola Romantica in Minnesota - heading out on a cruise with happy passengers, as one of Newport's ubiquitous crew boats paused between runs.