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.
TAKE THOSE MUCH DESERVED BOWS!!
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!!

GAV MADE A BIG WISH!!!

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.
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo
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.

WE LOVE YOU BEYOND WORDS, CHLOE!!

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
SPOILERS

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.

"Carol"

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.

We Left the Beach and Beat a Hasty Retreat to the Warmth of Home!

Ah, all my attempts to avoid chatting about the weather shall never be successful. North, south, east or west, it defines the days of our lives. Soooooo, when we heard about a rare southern snow 'n' ice storm heading towards our vacation mecca, we bumped our departure from what would have been today to Thursday morning. Fortunately for us, we stayed ahead of the snow during our two-day journey home.

We battled typical Washington traffic for a couple hours. Would it be a violation of our civil liberties to enforce car-pooling? We'd have been longer in the snarl, had we not been multiples in the car and able to use the HOV lane. Next to us were two lanes of traffic barely moving. It's not rocket science to figure out that convenience has won over sensibility. No one wants to hook up, I guess. Finally, we landed on Thursday evening at a favorite stop, the Hampton Inn in Frederick, Maryland. Funny thing about that place - they have a thirty-pound weight limit for pets. Hmmm. Mambo's head alone probably weighs in at nearly that. Sweet receptionists simply pretend they don't see us walking in. Thank G-d, 'cause they have the most comfortable bedding and a terrific restaurant from which to order. Very early the next morning, after listening to frightening forecasts by pervertedly excited media personnel, we headed out.


The ride was lightened and brightened by Gavin's FaceTiming us. What fun! He gave a mini-concert, playing the latest tunes on his trumpet and all he'd learned on his ukulele. Ask me how excited I am about THAT!! Seems Santa hit a winner with those instruments, 'cause Dawn had messaged us a vid of Hunter working out a uke song, as well. Then, in came Bri's e-mail that there is now a small ukelele (the variant spelling of ukulele that I seem to prefer) band formed in Gav's school of which he is a part. We've a concert on Wednesday morning… yippee!! More on Gav tomorrow, his eleventh birthday. We'll address smooches at that time. :-)
It was great to get home. Sure, it's always sad to leave the gorgeous beach behind. But even with the lake iced over, there is simply no place like home, with its own special brand of warmth. And in case you're watching the news and wondering - the big storm is somewhat missing us and delivering just high winds with some blowing snow, but no accumulation.
We've memories intact… gorgeous warm days combined with chilly, windy ones and a couple of rainstorms. We just take what we get and give thanks.

Here's to Sunshine 'n' Shadows 'n' Surviving the Life

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"When a lovely flame dies, smoke gets in your eyes…"

Provincetown, circa Fall 2013
Remembering Bonnie. In heartbroken spirit, we are with our Family, today.
Bonnie 'n' Dale, circa Fall 2013

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Happy Days ♥ Remembering Bonnie

The cold didn't hinder us. When we weren't at the beach, we were freezing. And just the other day, I mentioned Bonnie/Dale's favorite place, Niagara-on-the-Lake. They always shared well, including profanities. That Dale!! Here I am with Nicole, Mads, Bon and Dale, with Joe filming and narrating, circa January 2008. Thanks, Joe. This vid holds a special memory.
Happy Days. Forever in our Hearts.
video

Sunday, January 17, 2016

B♥nnie

It's incredibly hard to believe that just nine weeks ago, Joe and Bonnie were simultaneously posting pictures on Instagram… each commenting on the other's.
That's my Cousin Dale with his bride, Bonnie - our adopted cousin - celebrating their fortieth anniversary at Niagara-on-the-Lake, their traditional go-to place for such important dates.
Joe, Moi, Christian, Brian, Bonnie holding Maddy, Dale, Vicki,
Kim holding Keith, Ron, Pam holding Alex, Mom embracing Nicole
and Khrista
Meanwhile, Joe had taken a picture of an old picture and posted it. There we all are in front of the Old Homestead, twenty years ago. We'd had a huge party in celebration of Christian's graduation from Binghamton… and someone had the sense to gather family members for this treasure. Bonnie thanked us for sharing the photo.

Nine weeks ago.

Just last week, after her horrid diagnosis, Bonnie had commented on Brian's FaceBook. Who knew?

Thursday morning, as Nicole traveled home with a first very special GrandLove, Bon left us. She never met Dominic, something that will drive me nuts till my own dying day. All that potential for such special love, lost.

I understand shock and am reliving my Dad's death, a month after his similar diagnosis. I was young, like Khrista, Nicole and Maddy. It is so hard. So very hard. Their brains, I'm sure, will swirl endlessly. And Dale. Those two… you couldn't say Bonnie without saying Dale, or Dale without saying Bonnie. Brutal.

So, yesterday brought us a crystal clear beach day. A glory day. We walked with heavy hearts, though, carrying Bonnie along with us. Porpoises swam not far from shore, in the same direction we were headed. The beach. The special place the four of us - Dale, Bonnie, Joe and I - shared such intense love of. Had we been sharing yesterday's beach, the conversation would have been something like this, with any one of us saying the words, over and over again:

"What a gorgeous day!"
"OMG, do you BELIEVE this day?"
"This is a ten day."
"Ah, this is what it's all about!"
"Can you BELIEVE this!" (rhetorical question repeated)

 I recall on one such day hooking Bon up to my iPod, as we sat on Cape Cod shores, asking her to please listen to the music from "Jonathan Livingston Seagull." She listened. She loved. And yes, even on a glory looking day, that sky can appear to be so lonely. We miss her, already. We are in disbelief. The world is at a true loss with Bonnie's special brand of kindness gone.

Glory looking day
Glory day, Glory looking day
And all its glory
Told a simple way

Behold it if you may
Glory looking day
Glory looking day
Lonely looking sky