It was a gorgeous day at Duke Gardens. The sunlight was beautiful, and the sky was so blue. Older son and I had a great time taking pictures. It was a bit chilly, but I didn't care. I was outside, having a wonderful time.
Wreath on the front gate.
I love the way this photo of the Rose Garden turned out.
This sycamore tree to the north of the Rose Garden is one of my favorites.
I like the geometry of the Gate House.
The Terraces through the Pergola.
I love the sunlight on this statue, but I wasn't able to catch the reflection from the water on the bird.
I love the yellow in these pansies.
The magnolia tree and the magnolia bench
We were amazed to find this winter blooming Algerian iris.
The Terrace Garden
As is traditional, we stopped at the Mad Hatter Cafe for a snack.
Sunset on the way home.
Older son is off from college; daughter has lots more free time because dance and Hamlet don't start back for a few weeks - hence I'm not getting around to typing in the posts in my mind. However, I'm having a great time discussing my post ideas, among many other things,* with the older two.
* Because of a few posts I've found on other blogs, we've gotten back into Myers-Briggs-iana lately. We've been typing the characters from various shows, books, and movies including Pirates of the Caribbean (which I finally watched this week), Poldark, Captain Nemo, Les Miserables, Long John Silver, Star Trek, and Dracula.
I'm dealing with side effects of the cortisone shot I got in my knee yesterday. You're not supposed to have side effects, but I do. Hence, no writing today. It would turn out bizzarely. Or blizzardly. No, that's up north. We didn't get that much snow. Although we still have snow on the ground in Hillsborough even though the rest of the Triangle is snow free. Or free of snow. Or snow for free. See, you don't want me blogging. Mood swings. This is one of the up ones. Plus extreme tiredness on the down sides. Plus feeling flushed, but at least I'm not cold.
I always wake up to our local classical station, WCPE. Sometimes, if I really like the piece, I'll just stay in bed and listen. I particularly like Sunday mornings when they play choral music, and I especially enjoy listening to pieces that I've sung.
My high school choir sang Vivaldi's Gloria in the Christmas concert when I was a senior, and I was happy to hear it on WCPE last Sunday morning. Here is the first movement of Vivaldi's Gloria performed by The English Concert and directed by Trevor Pinnock:
She Loves Me, by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, is one of my all time favorite musicals. It's the story of two romantic pen pals who, without knowing it, end up working together and can't stand each other in person. You know what happens. Miklos Laszlo's original play, Parfumerie, has been retold as The Shop Around the Corner (James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan), In the Good Old Summertime (Judy Garland and Van Johnson), and You've Got Mail (Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan). Although I've enjoyed the others, particularly The Shop Around the Corner, She Loves Me is, by far, my favorite.
It's an unusual musical. There are no large, show-stopping numbers, and only one chorus number. It's a more personal, intimate musical and very charming. There are some songs that I love in here because of their melodies, words, and how they advance the story - for instance: the way No More Candy changes the plot, Amalia's hope contrasted with Ilona's cynicism in I Don't Know His Name (pictured right), the pompous importance of A Romantic Atmosphere, Amalia's (pictured above) confusion in Ice Cream, and the gradually increasing frantic-ness of 12 Days to Christmas. Unlike the songs in many musicals, which could be (and often are) re-used in other musicals, none of these songs are generic. They all have their place in the musical, and they couldn't really be switched.
Although we've also seen a student production of She Loves Me, many years ago, at NC State, my introduction to the musical was the 1978, BBC production. I had enjoyed both seasons of Poldark, with Robin Ellis, so I happily watched this new production when it came on TV that December. In it, Gemma Craven is adorable as Amalia, Robin Ellis is
excellent as Georg, and the other members of the cast are just right
for their parts. She Loves Me immediately became a holiday favorite of mine when it was broadcast for two or three years, and then it became a memory since it was never rebroadcast or sold on VHS.
We watch various Christmas shows each year, but I watch this one every year. It's now occasionally available online, and it has been posted, in parts, on YouTube. It's a bit blurry, but you'll forget that as you get absorbed in the characters. Here's the beginning, to get you started, and then there are links to the other parts (I can't put videos for all the parts on here because it would take forever to load my blog):
The original, 1963, production starred Barbara Cook as Amalia and Daniel Massey as Georg. Jack Cassidy won a Tony for playing Kodaly. The musical was nominated for a Tony, but didn't win. The next year, Harnick and Bock won the Tony for best composer and lyricist for Fiddler on the Roof.
Rita Moreno played Ilona in the 1964, West End production.
In 1977, an off-Broadway concert version starred Madeline Kahn as Amalia, Barry Bostwick as Georg, and Rita Moreno as Ilona.
The 1993 production starred Judy Kuhn as Amalia, Boyd Gaines (who won a Tony) as Georg, and Howard McGillin as Kodaly.
Boyd Gaines also won a Tony for Contact. In that show, one of his roles was the stumbling suitor in a dance I posted as one of my former Friday Fun Songs - Simply Irresistible.
Judy Kuhn played Cosette in Les Misérables on Broadway, and, among many other things, was the singing voice for Disney's Pocahontas.
Howard McGillin and Judy Kuhn also both performed in the Broadway musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (another one of my favorites).
Howard McGillin holds the record for most performances as the Phantom of the Opera (2,544 performances).
The 1994 West End production starred Ruthie Henshall (who won a Laurence Olivier award) as Amalia.
I have had little interest in blogging lately. I guess any extra energy is going into physical therapy and practicing flute for choir tomorrow (and keeping things going while dear husband was gone all week). I've reached my "feeling a failure at Christmas" point, after which, hopefully, I'll start to enjoy it.
[Later note: I wrote this post this afternoon. We decorated the tree this evening, and I'm feeling much more Christmas-y.]
I have energy and feel pretty good earlier in the day, but, by the time I get on the computer, I have no energy and feel rather flat. I'm even behind on our photoblog about Duke Gardens. I haven't even done anything with the camera lately.
We had some snow last night, but I can't do anything in it, or even go outside, because it's icy and I don't want to re-injure my knee while it's healing.
I realized, when I came across this Christmas meme at Electronic Cerebrectomy, that I haven't done a meme in a long time. This is a long meme (though I've cut out some questions) which will make up for that (pictured right: Biltmore House last December):
This or That 12. Candy cane or peppermint patties? Neither. I like pillow mints or After Eight mints.
13. Sugar or gingerbread cookies? Estonian Christmas cookies
14. Tinsel or beaded strands? Tinsel.
15. Multi-colored or same-colored lights? Multi-colored.
Same-colored are too tasteful.
16. Flashing or still lights? Still on our tree/outdoor decorations. Flashing on other peoples'. I like to look at the flashing ones, but I don't want to see them all the time. (Lights to the right are at the Biltmore House)
17. Wreaths or mistletoe/holly? Neither. I have a bad memory of wreaths from high school, and dear husband can do wonderfully without the mistletoe.
18. Rudolph or Frosty? Rudolph
19. Sledding or snowball fights? Sledding. I couldn't do that today because of my knee.
20. Snow or ice/icicles? Snow
21. Snow hat or earmuffs? Hat
22. Getting or giving? Giving.
23. Snow days or plow trucks? Snow days!
24. Stockings or presents? Presents
26. Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Both. They each have their own specialness. Our church has a beautiful Christmas Eve service (and lots of fun singing for the choir).
27. Log Burning Channel or real thing? Log Burning Channel?! Heresy!
28. Cards or emails? I like letters that tell you what people have been doing. I might even get ours out this year.
First Thought That Comes To Mind When You Hear… 67. Snowflake! Falling
73. Mistletoe! Yummmmm! [The kissing - not the mistletoe, which is poisonous]
74. Rudolph! Like a lightbulb
75. Blizzard! Not where we live
76. School’s Canceled! Friends for younger son to play with
77. Ice Skating! Weak ankles
79. Black Friday! Go hiking
80. God’s Son! Adoring
83. Nutcracker! Rehearsals (lots of rehearsals)
What’s a Winter Activity YOU Do… 86. …In the snow by yourself? Take pictures
87. …Inside by yourself? Read
88. …In a public place (with/alone)? Go to see Christmas Decorations with my family (e.g. Biltmore House, in Asheville, pictured right, and above)
89. …With friends/family in the snow at home? Sledding
90. …With friends/family inside at home? Games
Grade/Rate Holiday Movies A – F 91. A Christmas Story. Haven't seen it 92. How The Grinch Stole Christmas? B for the original. I'll never see the recent one. 93. The Santa Clause? Haven't seen it. 94. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer?
A+++ 95. Frosty The Snowman? A. This doesn't get an A+ because it scared me when I was very little. Every time we made a snowman, I was afraid it would come inside and melt on my floor (I didn't need snow creations committing suicide in my room). 96. Home Alone? Haven't seen it. 97. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? Haven't seen it. 98. Elf? You know, I don't watch most recent Christmas movies 99. Miracle on 34th Street? A+. It just came from Netflix 100. A Charlie Brown Christmas? A+
Christmas At My House…(one or the other) 111. Tree is fake/real? Fake. I'm allergic to real ones. The one we have is the one my parents bought when they figured out that we were allergic.
112. Tree is under/above 4′? Above.
113. Open presents Christmas Eve/Day? Christmas
Day at home or Christmas Eve at my mother's house.
114. House/entire yard is decorated? Moderate decorations inside. A few bushes and a tree outside.
115. Amount of presents under the tree? Enough to take quite a while at a leisurely pace.
116. Snowman is a male/female? Non-gendered
117. Go for Santa? We don't make a big deal of Santa. A simple stocking will do.
118. Homemade/delivered/takeout Christmas dinner? Homemade. Last year, at daughter's request, we had stuffed shells for Christmas dinner. I don't know what dear husband will make this year (he's the creative cook. I'm not).
119. Bedtime is before/after midnight? After. We have a Christmas cookie snack after we get back from the Christmas Eve service.
124. Low-key/over the top decorations (inside and out)? Low key outside, but we have lots of fun and creative ornaments on the tree (pictured above and below).
Have You Ever?
128. Sat on Santa’s lap? Long ago
129. Shoveled the driveway/sidewalk? Yes. We had a long driveway in upstate NY (one of the reasons I love NC)
130. Made snow angels? Yes.
131. Built a fort/igloo? Yes. We did build a wonderful one once in NY.
135. Caught a snowflake on your tongue? Still fun.
136. Went caroling? I love caroling, but I haven't had a chance to do any for years. I keep thinking of trying to get a caroling party together, but I'm always behind on what I have to do in December.
137. Got hurt during the winter season? Do two knee surgeries count?
138. Gone ice skating/sledding? I love both.
139. Kissed under a mistletoe? There must have been some mistletoe at some party dear husband and I have been to - in which case, yes.
True Or False 181. You prefer to stay inside where it’s warm? I feel cooped up inside. Particularly today.
182. You’ve given something (or $) to charity? Yes.
183. You spent more than what people spent on you? Who keeps track?!
184. You like to take your time opening presents? Yes.
185. The thing you want most this year costs $100+? Dear husband and I got each other a new CD player (our old one is rejecting more and more of our CDs), which arrived last week. We'll open it at Christmas.
188. Christmas = snow? Central NC = No
189. You know the lyrics to more than 25 Christmas songs? Definitely!
Grab Bag 190. Three best things about Christmas? Sitting and snuggling someone in front of the lit tree with all the other downstairs lights off. Baking. Watching everyone open presents - particularly the Christmas treasure hunt. For each of our kids, I make a treasure hunt with about 8 or 9 clues. The clues start with pictures when the kids are young, and go to riddles or word scrambles when they're older. One year, I did a French word scramble for older son.
(Hint (which I learned from older son): Word scrambles are the most difficult when the scramble looks like a real word)
191. Worst Christmas song? There are so many bad ones, it's hard to decide.
194. Tastiest holiday treat? Egg white cookies with chocolate chips
195. Favorite pop culture Christmas icon? Rudolph
196. Know how to make cookies/brownies/cake from scratch? Yes. They're best that way.
199. What kind of pattern/pictures do you like on your wrapping paper? Pretty or interesting or colorful. Most of the wrapping paper I've seen at the stores this year wasn't interesting enough.
Never take the mickey out of a male voice choir. Jay Leno thought it would be fun to lampoon the high-voiced acrobatics of
Chanticleer on the Tonight Show last week, lip-synching his way through
one of their numbers of perfectly polished 27-part harmonisation. But
the boys of Chanticleer have made Jay suffer their wrath: here's their
To Leno, filmed on their Christmas tour, merrily sending up Leno's "gigantic chin" and gigantic collection of cars...
Click here to listen to their Leno Carol of the Bells, and also to the King's Singers (another male, a cappella choir) sing the 12 Days of Christmas with a familiar face. [Hat tip to WCPE]
At Carol of the Chins, you can type in many carols and they'll sing it. I recommend the 12 Days of Christmas. It won't take long. We tried lots of carols, and we were amazed at how many the creators did [Hat tip to a friend].
Every Sunday, Feministe has a self-promotion Sunday post. In the comments, readers can post links to their own posts. I always look through it. Last Sunday, I enjoyed this post at Evil Slutopia, If You Love Blogging, or Glee, or Both... with a video about what happens when an insomniac blogger watches Glee (or "How to channel your inner Barbra Streisand").
The video is on Evil Slutopia, but it was made by The Bloggess so, of course, I had to check out her blog. Eventually, after reading, enjoying, and wandering, I ended up at a post she wrote for the website, Sexis: What you want it to be (which I have not wandered around on so don't blame me if you do wander and find something you don't want to read)(remember, I don't get analytical about sex so I'm not really interested in wandering on a site that will make me look at sex from the third person)(of course, if you wander and find something you want to read, I suppose you can't really thank me either)(btw, if you haven't guessed it already, this is the not innocuous part of the post). The post, Inappropriate thoughts about Twilight, describes problems with the... shall we say, physics and chemistry, of the intimate situations in Twilight. At the end, there's a comic commercial for an anti-vampire product - not something I'd ever thought about before, though it makes sense.
[Why am I back at vampires again? I don't even really like vampires, and I'm getting to the point where I could add a category for them.]