Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sweet Magic

Last week we went into New York to see the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Extravaganza.  I've seen it about 5 times now, but Ava is finally old enough to sit through it and enjoy it, so her Mom and I took her.

It's an easy walk from their home to the train which ends up in Grand Central Station.  I have to say, I just love Grand Central, from the blue sky and constellations painted on the ceiling to the people rushing about in the main lobby.  I think of all the people and all the life stories that have passed over that granite floor for so many years.
When you come in, they give you 3-D glasses, which are only used at the beginning of the show.  It's fun though, because it looks like Santa is flying right over your head in his sleigh.  Ava refused to take hers off for the rest of the performance. 
 Ava and her adorable little friend, Hailey and Hailey's Grandmother met us there.  Both of the girls were just enraptured!  Plus, are they not so cute?!

These are just a few pictures I was able to take without completely annoying the people around me.  The show includes a little of everything...Santa, the Nutcracker, ice skaters on a real ice rink, and at the end, the nativity story, complete with live sheep, camels and donkeys. 

They just do such an amazing job of everything from the special effects, lighting, dancing, story-telling and using the curtains and entire theatre. 

The children were spellbound. 

And to be honest, because I am SUCH a dork, I get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes because the sweet innocence of it is just so precious.  There are no bangity-bang rock music numbers, no scantily clad dancers wagging their rear ends around provocatively, just a magical program that never fails to bring the wonder of Christmas back to my old self, and the little children watching.  Looking at it, it's easy to see that there were hours and hours of practicing and rehearsing every little detail so that it comes off without a hitch.  For a $30 ticket, I tell you's absolutely worth it.

For me, the particular sweetness is mixed with the sorrow that when my own daughter and my other 2 kids were little, I had very few moments when I could just enjoy them. As a single parent, I was constantly worried about money, the car breaking down, and what to do if they were sick and I had to work, and what to do to get them, for five minutes, for Pete's sake, to stop squabbling with each other. So now with my granddaughter, I have a second chance and it's just a little bittersweet because of what I missed with my own kids. But maybe it's that way for most grandparents, because as any parent knows, it's really a tremendously important and consuming job to raise children. 
After the performance the girls looked over the balcony at the stunning Radio City theatre lobby.  Then we went to lunch and after that, they found a waterfall to throw coins in and make wishes.
(Not that Ava is a little ham or anything!)
I love that they are so serious about their wishing.  Ava stood there with her eyes closed concentrating on her wish for quite a while before throwing in her money.  What I wouldn't give to know what she is wishing for. 

Anyway, straight from Radio City to you, I hope your Thanksgiving is peaceful and filled with love and hope--and then on to the next holidays!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Visiting Vermont part 2

First of all, let me introduce you to the welcoming committee:

These lovely folks were all around on the roadways, waving and looking oh, so rustic and friendly.  During leaf season, it's all about the tourists and Vermonters who are ordinarily very independent and reserved go all out to welcome sundry sources of their annual income. 

I would have taken some shots of the leaves, but frankly, why not let the professionals do that rather hackneyed exploration.  I prefer to stick with the strange and heretofore little known aspects of Vermont.

To wit, the cows.  As everyone knows, Vermont is an agricultural state and is home to wonderful cheese, maple syrup and Ben and Jerry's famous ice cream.  You would think Vermonters would be overwhelmingly fat, but really they're not. 

 Here are some of the cows we saw:

Each of these cows was sponsored and designed by various organizations and artists.  Come on now, you have to admit they are pretty cute.  (Probably Mrs. Cow back at Shelburne Farms would disagree, but everyone is entitled to their opinion.)

On Saturday night, we went to Barnes and Noble in South Burlington, the biggest one I have ever seen.  As we sat and read, in trotted our own Congressman, the independent and eccentric Bernie Sanders.  He wandered around the store looking at books and a Lego reproduction of the White House, all unnoticed by anyone at all! This is one of the really great things about Vermont.  Everyone is so accessible there.  You can hop into an elevator and find yourself standing next to Senator Pat Leahy or go to Mirabelle's bakery and get a pastry with the mayor. 

I love Vermont.

Anyway, the last thing I want to mention is that parking is never a problem here:

You can always find some big ape to help you out. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Visiting Vermont, part I

I went visiting Vermont recently because I return there for dental work from time to time. (Long story...)
While there were we went to Shelburne Farms, one of my most favorite places.  If you look on the right between the trees, you can see a little bit of the farm barn, which is spectacular.  The whole place looks like an English castle.  You can even stay there in the Inn which is sitting on Lake Champlain. I like this path which begins by walking through these oak trees.  Sometimes there is a farm wagon loaded with people that comes through and you have to get out of the way.
As we got to the end of the path, there were these hand carved totems, which I hadn't seen before.  Vermont is full of interesting artisans who do things like this.  I don't know why they have the body cavities, but I suspect that they "sing" on windy days. 

Nearer to the farm barn they had arranged hay bales and kids and adults were running around on them and playing in the maze.
Chickens were running about picking up morsels here and there.  I loved them running single file.
If you wonder about the time, just look up to the roof and see the clock!  Easy sneezy!

We went into the barn to visit the animals, one of my favorite things.  Here is Mrs. Cow (and she had her baby right next to her.)  The cows at Shelburne Farms are Brown Swiss and they are beautiful with their soft coats and long eyelashes.  It's fun to pet them because I don't ordinarily get that close to cows.  I spent quite a bit of time standing and petting her.  All the animals at Shelburne Farms are spit-shined and sparkly clean. 

Here is her adorable little baby, just a couple of days old.
And my personal favorite...the piglets.

 There were ten of these little freckle-faced ones and Mama outside doing her best to fill up so she could keep nursing them.
She really looks like a walking milk bar, doesn't she?

There were other animals there, donkeys, goats, llamas and sheep.  Bunnies in cages.   The whole farm deal.  Being there is the best medicine around for lowering blood pressure. 

After we left the animal area, we went to the bakery.  Right on the premises is the O Bread bakery.  We went in and heard the angels sing! 


There were loaves and loaves of their delicious artisan breads cooling on racks, and croissants, cookies and other goodies.  We kept buying more and more!

Hey! How did that goat get in there? He better not eat any of the bread! He can just stick with the hay and tin cans and leave the bakery goods to me!

All of this seems so very Vermonty, doesn't it?  Wait til my next post for the funnier parts of the visit.  Meanwhile, can someone keep an eye on this hungry looking goat?!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Buddy

Hi All!  I'd like to introduce you to my buddy, Miz Beanwirth.  Cute, isn't she?  She's made out of socks that are cut up and sewn together, along with various items for her ah, wardrobe.  Then there is the acrylic paint she insists on using for lipstick.  I mean, like she needs any in the first place, right?  But no matter what, she is really all heart, as you probably noticed.  Anyway, she'll be hanging out in the spotlight for a while on my blog, so I thought I'd let ch'all know who you were lookin' at.  She's pleased to meet you, too!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I made it myself!!

My older daughter wanted this rocking chair for her new apartment/cottage.  It's been in the family since before they were even born.  (Sometime I'll share the story of how we bought our first house which was abandoned with everything still in it--including this chair.)  Anyway, the last person to have it was my granddaughter, Ava.  I recovered it in a blue floral print with a yellow gingham checked ruffle around the bottom and gave it to her Mom at her baby shower.  It was entirely too feminine and foofy for my older girl so last Sunday I did it over in a much more serious fabric, that I think will go with her rug very well.

I also redid my lamps in the bedroom.  I was just bored with them.  The shades were a gold tapestry looking fabric and I took some dotted gauze fabric that I picked up this summer at a yard sale and used it for the new shade--right over the old one.  You can see how the color looks in the bottom photo where it's lit.  I cut a piece of fabric the size of the bottom of the shade and sewed up the seam.  Then I coated it with wallpaper paste and smush/draped it over the shade, scrunching it up over the top and the bottom.  I used spring clothespins to hold it while it dried outside in the sun.  Then I reinforced the bottom with some Elmer's glue on the inside to hold it.  I added a ribbon cut from some fabric I made curtains out of for my upstairs guest room.  I thought they turned out rather well!  The total cost for these two projects?  (drumroll....)  $13.00  That's the best part of all!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Art Part

I thought it might be time to put some photos of my art up.  These are not the best pictures, but then again the art isn't exactly Picasso either!  I painted this after a photograph appeared in a local magazine about Love.  It showed a woman from Catskill Animal Sanctuary holding a pig.  The photograph was so filled with love and the piggy looked so happy I just had to paint something about it!

The one to the right is a painting I made a couple of years ago to enter into a contest.  It didn't win, but I had fun painting it.  It depicts my wedding to my first husband.  I made the sky look stormy and added a sharp picket fence pointing at me, because the marriage WAS stormy and there wasn't much in it for me that wasn't sharp and pointy, except for my three adorable kids.  As you can see, we were a hippie couple then.

I enjoy painting because it's kind of a meditation and it's also therapeutic at the same time.  I also made a couple for my husband to hang in his fancy office a few years ago.  He no longer has the job, but we still have the paintings.  It made me feel really good that he had them on his wall when he was there.

I haven't been doing as much painting or drawing for a while because I have an inner critic that is really very vicious.  I'm just beginning to realize just how much I bash my own efforts.  I would probably be a perfectly fine artist if I could just stop bashing myself.  I have a lot of work to do in that department.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Artistry and Magic

Recently I visited an adorable shop in my favorite town, Rhinebeck. It's called the Paper Trail and features lots of unique items such as kitchen kitsch, seasonal gifts, jewelry, and obviously paper things, like invites and these creations made entirely of paper. I have a picture of the wedding dress in the previous post, and when I visited I went through the store with my camera and snapped these other beautiful creations. This one is a gown made of crepe paper with roses for the skirt. Fit for the princess to wear to her ball, don'tcha think?

No wait! THIS is the gown the princess wore...all golden and fizzy.

This one is a more springey look and it has a ton of detail, which I tried to capture for you. Notice how the bodice and sleeves are made of cutout flowers and the skirt is made of leaf shapes. Incredible!

I loved this shiny paper raincoat...complete with raindrops! (See the butterfly mobile next to it? I now have it hanging in my office at home...irresistible!

Finally, this is one of several paper "paintings" hanging in the gallery at the shop. I'm sorry to say that I don't know who the artist is for any of these works, so if a reader does know, please leave me a comment with the name so proper credit can be given. 
All I can say is I am just blown away by these incredible works of art. If you're ever in Rhinebeck, NY be sure and stop in and visit the Paper Trail to see these delectables and more!

Ordinarily when the budget is tight, the first things to go are social programs, art and sports.  When looking at art like this, it's easy for me to see why this is a terrible, terrible idea.  Surviving and thriving in this world depends on creative solutions, now more than ever.  To stimulate ideas, we need creative peole to express themselves and for that expression to be valued in the most reverent and light-hearted way.  Being in the presence of these beautiful, painstaking creations just fills me with light and hope.  The way out of our troubles is not more technology to enhance social jabbering, but thinking people creating in all directions.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Adventures of an Unsuccessful Celebrity Stalker

Well...I guess you heard.  Chelsea got married yesterday.  So since I live just a very short drive from Rhinebeck, I decided to grab my husband and head on over for some sightings. 

Here's what I've got for you, people:

We waited outside the entrance to the Beekman Arms Inn, which houses rooms and a restaurant.  At one time George Washington and his troops ate here.  They must have been pretty short in those days because the ceilings are very low inside.
The grounds were especially beautiful, because they had been working on them for weeks.
Across the street was the media area, where they were filming their reports live to the evening news.  There were zillions of police, state troopers and secret service around, but they were all friendly and having a good time.  I got the feeling they were the sort one might be able to talk out of a traffic ticket if one were to get one, that is.

You can see a big tangle of cords, lighting and staff all over.

The woman on the right was from the ABC affiliate and was rehearsing her "story."  The big news was that Bill Clinton was spotted earlier in the day walking down the street in a black polo shirt and jeans.  What you don't see on the news is that she is reading from a yellow pad and standing on a cardboard box, wearing white flip flops.  Kind of makes you Katie Couric wearing short shorts under that desk?

We got hungry finally and walked through town where we saw all sorts of well-wishing messages.  Here are a few of the cuter ones:

This was a simple balloon hung outside a shop that was closed for the day.

This was one of my favorites.  This shop usually has life sized stuffed animals in the window.  Here they have the Dalmations smooching with a gift bag between them wishing Chelsea and Marc happiness. 

The Paper Trail had this wedding gown in their window, made entirely of ah...paper.  Honestly, it's not a bad idea considering you only wear this dress once. Think of the money that could be saved for funner things, such as the honeymoon!  (Yes, I did say funner...I'm an English major and qualified to take liberties with the language.  Just don't say "alot" around me, though; it's like fingernails on a chalkboard.)
I'd love to show the pictures we got of the celebs going to the rehearsal dinner, but alas... none.  We stayed until 9:30 PM and Bill and Hillary didn't get there until about 11:30.  They waved to the crowd for 2 seconds and then went in.  I did get the scoop on something, though, and that's how much I love a small town. 

Rhinebeck is very picturesque and green, with loads of Victorian houses everywhere.  (Seriously, Jeanne, these houses are drool-worthy!)  Everything is neat, and clean enough to eat off of.  There are several Zagat rated restaurants and many adorable shops.  Omega institute also resides off in the woods.  And of course, the fairgrounds which hosts flea markets and crafts, antique car shows, the Sheep and Wool Festival among other events.  (Including, get this-- a fair!) 

What I really enjoyed about the town was the hominess of it.  Troops of little kids jamming into Village Pizza after their game, police joking with each other and seeing friends that they just "friended on Facebook" that day.  Everyone courteous and in a good mood.  I really miss that kind of community, living where we do out in the ouskirts. 

Anyway, not to be deterred, my husband and I set out the following night to find a location to view the wedding fireworks.  We ended up getting the PERFECT spot just across the Hudson and we waited there from 8:30 to 11:00 when we finally admitted defeat and went home.  Dang if I didn't read in the paper that they had fireworks after all.  (Probably 10 minutes after we left.)  But we did watch an absolutely gorgeous moon rise in the sky, all yellow and leaving a shimmering image on the river.  It was really magical and peaceful.

This I can say for sure, whoever prayed for the weather for this weekend did a really good job of it.  (I'm hoping I can put them to work praying for me to inherit one of those lacy Victorians in Rhinebeck.)