Tuesday evening in my preferred 'living room', two brave mothers flanking daughters about to fly the coop in a big way. As posted yesterday, it was the eve of Jessica's departure for Berlin. And Dominique's destination was Mexico City. Final hugs for both of them... real warm embraces for the last time for a good while.
For the last time, too, the cosy Italian comfort of Eiscafé Venezia, as of today closed for four wintery months. I shall very much miss my regular table inside in the back corner. In several ways the fourth quarter of the year will be marked by austerity and constraints.
I must nevertheless count myself fortunate. The unexpected windfall in the form of several years accrued pension payments meant that the summer was not too grim. I could indulge in daily late afternoon outings for my beer-and-espresso break, enjoying many of them in the sitooteries of the three cafés withing easy walking distance. I could pick up the tab when Jessi joined me as she often did after returning from London.
But the fourth quarter of the year will oblige me to economize rigorously once again and limit my outings to three days per week... unless, of course, paid translation assignments come my way.
With Venezia no longer an option my alternatives are limited. One is Bei Schakir, next to the discount supermarket where I shop. The guests are mostly ancient and there is the added problem of a very friendly Vietnamese waitress who chats non-stop, but in such a soft and high-pitched voice that with my less than optimal hearing I can understand little of what she tells me. Which is embarrassing. The second solution is Scheidegger... lovely in fine weather when I can put cushions on the chairs outside. But inside the seating is unforgiving... hard wooden benches which are agony for an extremely bony old codger like me. My ruse there is to have with me a cushion contained in a shoulder bag on which I can sit and hope that nobody notices my odd behaviour and presumes that I am sitting on my grocery purchases!
Yes, constraints and austerity. But... volens, nolens... they are to be endured.