Progress Report


My foot is now described as "functional"  -   it finally got to the 12 degree movement this week and I can go down about half a dozen steps – haltingly but going down normally.  

My next goal is 15 degrees so I continue with the PT torture twice a week until then. 

We are having friends over for a Chinese feast tonight – the manservant is cooking, but someone has to go supervise….

More Italian photos:    a  church in Rome with a truly beautiful interior:


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Minerva’s Piggy


Santa Maria sopra Minerva is a basilica church in Rome – considered to be their only Gothic church. The basilica was built directly over (sopra) the foundations of a temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva – hence the name.

Two Dominican monks, with the great names of Sisto and Ristoro, started building the church in 1280 and it was completed in 1370. It was altered during the Renaissance and Baroque periods but was restored "back" in the 19th century. It is close to the Pantheon and the photos are not that great because they were taken from a moving vehicle:

Our driver took some delight in pointing out the slightly "off" proportions of the elephant in this statue which is infront of the church – it is called Pulcino della Minerva but our driver called it Minerva's Piggy.

In 1665, a small obelisk about 5.50 metres long, with hieroglyphs inscribed on each side, was discovered in a garden belonging to the Dominican monastery beside the church. Pope Alexander VII decreed that it be raised in front of the church and called for designs for a base to hold the obelisk. . A Dominican priest, Father Domenico Paglia was one of those who presented a design to the papal commission. His design had the obelisk resting over 6 small hills with a dog on each corner as the dog is the symbol of Dominican priests (Domini canes – "the Lord's dogs").

His design was rejected and the artist  Gian Lorenzo Bernini was asked to present a design;  his design was of an elephant holding the obelisk and was chosen because it represented fortitude. The inscription on one side, when translated,  reads ".. a strong mind is needed to support a solid knowledge".

Apparently, Bernini's elephant was inspired by a 15th century novel Hypnerotomachia Poliphili – one of the very first books ever printed in Italy – "Poliphil's Dream of the Love Battle" or "Poliphil's Dream of the Strife of Love" in which Poliphil encounters a stone elephant carrying an obelisk. In Bernini's design he had the obelisk resting on the elephant's back with nothing under the belly/between the legs.  

But … the Domenican priest Paglia argued that no weight should rest vertically above an empty space as it would not be steady nor long-lasting. Paglia argued that a cube should be inserted under the elephant's belly. Bernini strongly opposed this because he had already carried out other works where heavy pieces rested over an empty space – but the Pope insisted a cube be added to the statue. The sculptor tried to disguise the cube by adding a saddle cloth to the elephant's back but the change gave the statue a squat look which led to it being called Porcino della Minerva (Minerva's Piggy).

The final statue was carved in 1667 by one of Bernini's students, Ercole Ferrata and the name eventually changed to Pulcino della Minerva  (pulcino = small or chick) and was probably a reference to the short height of the obelisk.


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The calendar turns…. and thanks.


I am not a night person but with the help of caffeine and the Batman: Dark Knight, DVD, I managed to stay awake till midnight. I told the manservant that this is the last year I am going to stay up as the calendar turns whether I am up or not, and quite frankly I am a much nicer person if I get a full night's sleep!
More appealing to me is the idea to set the alarm for dawn and toast that first sunrise of the year with champagne.  (Yeah, well we'll see if that happens ….).
If I was asked to sum up my 2008  I would say my foot, my foot, my foot!  It certainly seems to have dominated my year but it was not, by any means, my entire year.
January:   I was getting ready to say goodbye to the Princess (daughter) who had spent 2 months visiting us.  

February:  My Economist son turned 21 and we decided to cash in frequent flyer miles and have a trip later in the year once he had finished his final exams at university.

March:    I spent the entire month gallivanting around in Australia. 

April:   The Pope came to town and totally disrupted my trip to work.    
It was Admin Day at work and I had to go Bowling (which I hate);  given a gift card which didn't seem to have value on it (and which I got taxed on in my December pay).
I fell down our stairs – but I did not hurt my foot.
May:    I posted photos from my year-ago trip to China – a wonderful experience – both the trip and the re-visiting. 

The first mention of my foot appears – in a meme where I mention that I don't think the (as then diagnosed) peroneal tendonitis is ever going to get better.
June:  Half the month taken up with a visit from my in-laws.   The other half a rodent family moved in.  
July:  Had an MRI; had my foot encased in the first of many hard casts and had a birthday – in that order. 

August:  Started the month with good news as my eldest son became engaged at the end of July:

I devised clever ways to carry things while on crutches.   On the 22nd I had extensive surgery on two shredded peroneal tendons and a torn ligament.   Passed the last week in a drug induced stupor.

September:  A whole month in an euphoric drugged state.
October:   I don't seem to have done much except complain about my foot –  I must have been cutting down on the drugs.
November:  After 114 days the cast came off!!   Obama, Obama, Obama. 
December:  I took my walking stick on a 3-week tour of Rome, Florence,  Milan and London.  (photos in order:  St Peter's Rome;  city of Florence,  snow in Milan;  London x 2).

During this whole foot saga I have received amazing support from my Vox neighbours.  I really appreciated people checking in to see how I was getting on.  I valued every comment and private message of encouragement.

I feel that I have vicariously walked, travelled, ridden bikes & horses, and exercised with everyone and I thank you all for such physical times! 

I wish everyone and their families a very happy and healthy 2009 – and if you are one who has made some goals for the year I hope you achieve them.

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No Way!

Landed in Rome early this morning. 

Walked very slowly to the Spanish Steps (5 minute "normal" walk from our hotel).

Got there and thought "no way" ….. 

This is the economist on his way down in the rain.   

I have managed to get 8 hours free internet in our room – too bad I will be asleep for most of it!  

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