Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lookin' Back - "Grease" is STILL the Word!

Meant to blog in a more timely fashion about (link) "Grease Live" on Fox, a couple weeks ago. Having seen my favorite John Travolta version multiple times in addition to the play on Broadway, I was skeptical. Hmmm. That was before we were hooked into this fabulous production. Yep, it's still the word. 

It wasn't till after the show that we came to learn that 
its star is practically a local boy, having grown up in Middletown, where he began his thespian career. How's that for a small world?

Here's to longevity, all around.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

WHEW!! That Was A Lot Of Blogging For One Day...

Rest easy. That's all she wrote!!

Congrats to the Broncos and Kudos to Lady Gaga...

The underdogs won; yay! Joe was happy. The ribs were delicious and… well, to repeat - the Broncos won. But for me? I loved Bruno, of course. Lady Gaga, though, stole the show with her brilliant performance. It brought tears to my eyes.

Marital Problems? "Better Call Saul"

While working around the LakeHouse the other morning, I listened to the girls on "The View." Or, was it "The Talk?" Whatever; I was listening, not watching. I digress. One of them commented on how Netflix was saving marriages, nationwide. "Hmmm," thought I. My ears perked up…

The theory mentioned is that every couple needs a third faction to their relationship. For example, when you've got kids at home, you talk about the kids. Bought a new house? Dinnertime conversations prevail. New job? New puppy? You get the gist. Soooo…

What happens when Party #3 is no longer. What or who fills the gap? Enter Netflix. Hours and hours of wedded bliss watching "Breaking Bad" or "Mad Men" or "Bloodline" keeps couples together, in the same room, for hours on end… encouraging ensuing discussions. Interesting. And there's an etiquette to this TV bliss…

No watching ahead of time without the other. A mortal sin. One waits for his or her partner to share.

Thank you, Netflix. Hilarious. But true? Well, you decide, but I'm here to tell you that we love our series. We cuddle on one couch or another and watch and watch… then talk and talk…

No, no, Saul hasn't gotten into matrimonial law quite yet; but Bob Odenkirk is brilliant in this prequel to "Breaking Bad" and he might enhance your marital bliss. By the way, "Better Call Saul" is a stand-alone, whether or not you watched "Bad." And the bonus… a huge one… comes by way of the lovable Jonathan Banks in a continuation of his role as Mike. What a treat!!
Highly, highly recommended!!

Cucina News

Before we left Christian's neck of the woods, we hit Trader's. Needless to say, we overbought and overspent. I was excited to find this shelf-storable item, ready and waiting for when I'm in the mood to make a Bûche de Noël. Had to text Cousin Maddy, a schooled baker. Of course with a Trader Joe's in her neighborhood, she was already aware. She told me that it's an excellent product. I'm spreading the word.

You're welcome. :-)

Home Improvements

So, I missed my big Cape Cod lanterns in the Old Homestead's living room. Needed to rectify that with a LakeHouse version. Perfect! I hope you like.
Also, we had a few plant casualties while away for a month. Thought to fire the help, but we love Bri too much. And he's proficient in other areas of home guardianship. Instead, Joe hit Lowe's and surprised me with the motherlode of greenery. Gorgeous stuff, including the first orchid to grace our new digs. And it's not even Valentine's Day quite yet.

Snow - Or the Lack Thereof

We are normally considered to be in the snow belt of New York. Well, Friends, the times are a-changin', for sure.
A couple weeks ago, we headed into the Big Apple after they were pounded. Bridge traffic was a mess, but generally speaking, main roads were pretty well cleared. The above picture is a self-portrait of sorts. Can you find me, precariously holding my iPhone by an open window?

Yesterday's lakescape was snowless… the lake with just a touch of ice on it… still waters reflecting.

Finally, last night, we had an inch or two of the white stuff. Our lakescape changed a tad. A tad. It's February 9th and this is it. And now, the sun is shining with reflective stillness returned, so the white coating won't last for long.
Bizarro world? Global warming? Ah, poor Long Island. They were blasted again.

"Pan" Round 2 'n' Hunter's Mr. Smee

After Dawn saw last Thursday night's performance, she texted me that "…Hunter stole the show." I thought she was being a typical parent, just like Joe and I were when B or C did absolutely anything, back in the day. Nothing wrong with that. You know. :-) But then… but then…
Joe and I met Christian and Chloe for the Friday show. Guess what? She did not exaggerate. Hunter delivered the goods with the comedic timing of a pro. He truly did steal the show (blush, blush), receiving big laughs and cheers. Expression never left his face and he never stopped acting, even during downtime between lines… a lot of lines in what seemed like an expanded version of Smee. Love that boy and his joie de vivre. But not to forget…

The entire sixth-grade cast and their wonderful performances, fantastic costumes and amazing direction by Ms. Kim (I forget her married name) have had us cheering in awe, since showtime. There were lots of kudos for staff, parents and even grannies who all helped with the extras that made this a perfect production.

If you're keeping up with this week's news, you'll know that Billy Joel is not only crusading to keep a Long Island arts high school open, but has also contributed a million dollars to the cause, saying that music programs (or in this case a school) are always first cuts. Rarely are sports programs cut. Tragic. Nothing enhances a child's education or life more than exposure to the arts, especially when they participate for life.
Special thanks go out to Hunter's school principal who made it a point to welcome us and thrill us with praise for our boy. It enhanced our evening beyond words.
To Note: The same deal existed with photos as during last week's MHS play. Sooo, forgive the blur; I'm grateful for what I was able to capture.

And to our star - thank you for the beauty you bring to our lives. May the magic last forever. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

"Peter Pan" Round I - MHS

Aubrey participated in the Monti Drama Club's fabulous production of Disney's "Peter Pan," last night. She had a boatload of fun with Abby and a few more of her pals who joined Stage Crew. They did a great job changing the incredibly artistic sets for the frontmen. The gray arrow will help you find her, behind Peter - we must teach our girl how to access the front row for kudos!
Meanwhile, another good friend, lovely Dana, landed the role of Wendy. Dana aspires to be a singer, dancer and thespian; she did a fantastic job portraying the darling Darling girl, as did ALL of the kids in their roles. We spotted Marley and Liza and Amelia, not forgetting the other children, all so very talented in their roles of Peter, Tink, Hook, Smee, Mermaids, Indians, Lost Boys, etc. Our Monti club allows for two aspiring actors to share lead roles. So, on Friday night, different children portrayed Peter, Hook and a few others. To me, this demonstrates dedication to craft 'n' kids by the powers that be. Also, I'd be remiss were I not to mention the gorgeous piano accompaniment by Mr. John Bernstein. The music never stopped, as sets changed… a wonderful score.
Y'all know the timeless story of my forever favorite, so I'll just share the pictures that turned out fairly well. There were a lot of blurry ones, as flash photography was not allowed and we were a tad far from the stage. After all, bright lights confuse fairies, so we adhered to the rules. :-) But you'll get the gist!
Now, it's on to Round II in Albany on Friday, when Hunter plays Mr. Smee in his drama club's depiction of the boy who'll never grow up.
Thanks to all at MHS for all the hard work that gifted us such a fun night.
To Note:
If some of these names are sounding familiar to you, that's because you've met the girls before on CMI. Small-town living has some huge advantages. Our beautiful, sweet Aubrey and her equally sweet pals have been friends since they were one-digit numbers in age. They're growing up together and have formed beautiful bonds. They are great academic students, musicians, thespians, athletes and human beings. We are so blessed to be able to watch them thrive.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

I L♥Ve LuCy

Ocean Waves aka Lucy

A word from Gavin, pre-Christmas, and a warm reception on the holiday itself from the Fabulous Five for ukuleles gifted by Santa Soll almost did it. Then, there were FaceTime practices from Gav and strumming by Hunter via video, after he was done with piano and trumpet practice. Almost there. The clincher was the (link) Ukulele Boys Band at the concert, this past Wednesday, and the enthusiasm from a certain music teacher. Sooooo…..

Willie has Trigger, named for my favorite cowboy's horse, and B.B. King had many named Lucille. My four-string mini deserves a moniker, too, don't you think? Lucy. Who doesn't love Lucy?? Appropriate for my new pal; she'll be needing a sense of humor. Hey, don't judge; just...

Wish me luck. I'm practicing the calypso strum, at the moment - this after taking forever to get those GCEA strings tuned.

Just Color Me Inspired!!
Loved 'n' Tattered Trigger
Willie's One and Only

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

M♥NTICELLO ROCKS! Thanks, Gav!!! ♥

With SPECIAL THANKS to Joyce Wells, music teacher extraordinaire, and her Rutherford students, all blessed with this gem of an instructor whose enthusiasm and light-heartedness is not to be surpassed!

Performing similar programs, third-, followed by fourth- and then fifth-graders, demonstrated the amazing progress made by all in just a few grades worth of limited instruction. Lots of fun instruments combined with voice and movement to create a wonderful concert. The movement segments were something new to behold. The kids exercised great concentration, coordination and agility, all to the beat of background music.

Gavin thrilled us in chorus and with his recorder. But our highlight was when he joined his compadres in the newly formed Ukulele Boys Band, (link) mentioned previously on CMI. He was one of the boys who did a brief solo in demonstration of a strumming pattern learned, before all joined in. At that point, I wondered what else the boys were ready to do. Surprise, surprise…

They'd also learned chords. Yes, chords! Combined with their strumming, it all became back-up music for the fifth-grade chorus in one song. Amazing… and more kudos to Ms. Wells for such creative planning.
Now, I must mention the fabulous, fun song choices… perfect for the children to deliver with humor and smiles and even more perfect for the early morning audience to enjoy.
What a great experience from our excellent Monticello Music Department. Even the allowance of the extra ukulele band that called for stretching time (thank you, Staff) demonstrates the importance placed on providing this diversity for the kids.
What a great way to start a day! All smiles. For sure...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

After the Storm - The Big Apple

Decided to keep an appointment in Manhattan, yesterday, and found surprisingly decent travel conditions, considering the blizzard sustained. Enjoyed sunrise/moonset (do you see it?) over the Palisades; that's how early we had to leave.
 Of course, many had not yet dug their vehicles out of now-filthy snow.
Traffic didn't mount till the bridge and beyond; so what else is new? And then, there were the usual maniacal drivers weaving in and out of crammed lanes. You need nerves of steel to drive.
It was nice to arrive back at our ever-delicious Home, Sweet Home and then collapse.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Impromptu Par-tay!!


Happy Eleventh, Gav! ♥

So, we were on our way home the other day when Gavin FaceTimed. We had a lot of catching up to do, especially in the musical arena. He's making good progress with his trumpet, but that little ukelele seems to have won his heart. It was a conversation with him about the instrument and extra music lessons in school that led Santa Soll to gift all of the Fabulous Five ukes for Christmas. They were a hit. I digress. Gav serenaded us beautifully with his strumming. As I mentioned in a post below, he's now part of a boy band of players, all having given up free time in school to learn this ever-growing-in-popularity instrument. Just add it to the repertoire of all he excels at with great enthusiasm and joie de vivre.
We always end our virtual conversations with smooches. Nobody does them better. Imagine my glee when I found the "Wanna Smooch" plaque in Cracker Barrel, during a lunch stop. It's amazing how things come together.
And so, it's with a whole mess of hugs and smooches that we wish our special boy a Happy Eleventh! Time sure does fly.
We Love You, Honey!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

And to my Friends 'cross the Pond...

You never cease to amaze me, with your concern when the news so much as mentions New York. Thank you so very much. And…

All you're hearing is true - but for downstate, the city and the shores of Long Island. They are in blizzard conditions. And the DC area we left behind during our travels currently stands at thirty inches of snow, with it continuing to fall… however…

While our ski areas are begging ski gods for blizzards, nothing - NADA - falls up here. We are experiencing high winds and brutal cold, but our current, snowless view looks like this...

Musical Interlude - Glenn Frey

The Eagles were to receive Kennedy Center Honors in 2015, but Glenn Frey was too ill to attend. The rest of the band members requested that the event be postponed till he recovered, so all could attend. How loving and classy. It simply wasn't written in the stars, though, for that to happen. Yet another loss at too young of an age. Show me one person who is not familiar with the incredible soundtrack this band has written and played for us during their decades-long run. Once again, too sad.

It's All About Fido aka When A One-Hour Walk Takes Three Hours

It's probably been mentioned, here on CMI, that it's the pet-friendliness of our current vacation spot that brought us to lovely Surfside, Garden City and Huntington Beaches, SC. Florida is a challenge in the pet arena, though they do tout warmer weather this time of year. I digress. I'm here to tell you that there are oodles and oodles of pooches, enjoying surf 'n' sand where we frequent; and so, we keep going back. But if there's a downside….

Everyone - and I mean everyone - wants to talk Dogs. And Mambo gets more attention than most, since most weigh in at about fifteen pounds and are barely noticeable. We've never seen more cute-but-little breeds than here. So, first it's his size that gains glances, and then come the questions. Is he a Bouvier? A Standard Poodle? A Doodle? A Newfie? No, no, no, no. He's a Black Russian Terrier. And then it goes on and on and on. How old is he? Where did you find him? Is he gentle? Nine. From a local breeder. Yes; he has to be, 'cause we've nine grandkids. Need more?

It gets to the point where, with no exaggeration, a one-hour beach hike (accomplishing that with no eye contact) turns into a three-hour event. Oy vey. But as irony would have it…

Big Dog was "home" resting after his scary illness, when we met a lady at Huntington Beach. Even when our pets are not with us, it seems people want to talk dogs. Hey, don't judge. It beats topics like world peace or pending snowstorms. And so, this lovely new acquaintance began telling me about Springtime, Inc., and the magic bullets that seem to give older arthritic dogs new oomph. I ordered and had this recommended concoction shipped to our home away from home. They seem to work. Fingers crossed. Hope you'll check 'em out, if your best bud is in need.

Not All Mail Means Bills!

Well, lucky for us that we had an AMAZING Christmas '15 and my Little Pretty, Chloe, shared it with us, here at the LakeHouseStill, how nice to find this belated wish, mixed in with three weeks worth of old mail.


WTF? Blatant Hatred in Stafford, Virginia

We've traveled back and forth on I-95 many, many times. We already know it to be a crappy drive - necessary to get to our destination most conveniently. But nonetheless crappy. And so…

Imagine the bile in my throat when I looked up from my WORDS game just in time to see the confederate flag flying high and huge over Stafford, VA. Envision, please, one of the largest American flags you've ever seen and you've got the image. I'll NOT picture it here, but shall share this one link. It's already paining me to mention hateful words and names. Yes, hateful...

"WTF?" asked I of Joe.

"I don't know," said he…

…both of us acknowledging that we'd never, as in not ever, seen anything quite like THAT before, leading to my quick research.

Friends of CMI know I've already got issues with the south, not to be repeated in this blog. I was thrilled when SC ruled to take the nasty down. But this? Well, seems neither Joe nor myself were aware of the Virginia Flaggers. You'll have to Google on your own, because I'm not giving them any more attention by linking. Be shocked. I was. Seems that as long as hate mongers deal with private property owners and have their own funding, they can do what they want. Now, please don't get me wrong…

I'm all for REMEMBERING. We need to acknowledge our roots and never forget the ugly capabilities of mankind. That's with the hope and prayer of never allowing those behaviors to be repeated. As a matter of fact, when the movie of the same name was released ("Roots"), I  somewhat advocated for it to be shown in classrooms nationwide. It's the same with the Holocaust. My Jewish half shudders. Correction: my Human whole shudders on all counts. We need to remember, albeit in horror. BUT…

…and this is a huge but, as my new acquaintance, Ayisha (spell?) so eloquently said about ugly, blatant visuals with malicious intent, erected to startle and to spread evil...

"We don't need to be (constantly) reminded," as with such a detestable symbol.

In sad conclusion, this is not the only flag of its kind. Again, if you're interested, just Google it all.

Will the world ever get past its racial and religious biases? Will there ever be peace? What exactly is our American dream?

The Rainy Day Movies - "The Revenant" and "Carol"

Adding Martin Scorcese to the mix 'cause y'all know what
he directed, mentioned herein

Two fantastic stars - Leo and Cate.
Two awful movies.

"The Revenant"

Honestly, one of the worst movies of my lifetime. You remember, I'm sure, the horse-head scene in "The Godfather 1." Well, "The Revenant" writers outdid that scene with an even more memorably nasty one of their own. The violence in this film exceeds that in most other movies. Leo in a beard is nearly unrecognizable, making it easy to forget he's even starring in all the misery. NOT RECOMMENDED, unless you loved Tom Hanks and Wilson and need a more violent version of solitude and salvation.


Yeah, yeah, it carries a message… one we've been hearing repeatedly for too long now. It's true, one can't change his or her grain. And yes, Cate's performance was excellent. But honestly, it was like watching grass grow. FAR BETTER than the first movie mentioned; but nonetheless about a 3 on a scale of 10. Would have been better free and on demand.