Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my 69th birthday.  It's the beginning of the 70th year but I will not call my blog "Year70."  I am thinking about a new title for a new year.

I can look back over the last year as a gift, the "Gift of a 69th Year." I found plenty to do in my retirement.  I travelled alone to Brown County, Indiana and to New York City.  I helped our children and grandchildren in Princeton, New Jersey and Gladwyne, Pennsylvania at busy times in their lives, including two weeks welcoming little Alex Conway in January.  I was able to see dance recitals, baseball games,  a chorale concert and a baptism.  Jim and I had great adventures travelling to San Diego, Indian Shores, Florida, and Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi along the lower Mississippi River Road as well as beach weeks in South Haven and Holland, Michigan.

I sang, played the organ, learned about art, and read lots of books.  I blogged and will "publish" this blog on Blog2Print for my own memories. 

My health was good except for this latest bout of insomnia; Jim had several issues, but is doing better now.  We lost Jim's mother which is both a relief and a void in our lives.  I have no desire to live to a very old age if it means dementia.  Limitations are to be expected.  I don't spend much time thinking of the future but I do note the ages of those whose obituaries are published. 

Next year?.  I hope to keep travelling and visiting children and making music and reading and learning.  I am obligated to do one more year of being an art museum docent.  And then we'll just see what else might come along.  

I lit a candle at the Grotto this morning with prayers for my own mental health and strength and the ability to live with joy and to serve others.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A glass of Pennsylvania wine

How much do you want a glass of wine?  Well, it seems that we really did and the harder it was to come by, the more we wanted it.

We are on our way home from Gladwyne, Pennsylvania where we witnessed Alex's baptism.  That is what I should write about and not this.  We stopped in Donegal for the night at a Holiday Inn Express, a very familiar stop for us.  Sadly, our favorite bar, Main Event, has closed.  No more great burgers and glasses of wine filled to the top.  When I gasped at her pour at our first visit, the waitress said, "You're in the country now."

The innkeeper suggested a family restaurant but I asked for a suggestion where wine was served.  She said to try Out of the Fire Café.  Another traveler said that it was a bit pricey but great.  We were shown to a seat, and looked over the menu.  The waiter saw us turning it over, looking for a wine list, and told us it was a BYOB establishment.  We asked where we could get a bottle of wine and we thought he suggested a 7-11 down the road but warned us that most of the wines were sweet.  That was a puzzling remark.

Down the road we went, stopping where we saw a Beer Distributor sign-but it was beer only.  The proprietor left his TV watching to tell us that there was no 7-11 down the road but the road itself was called Pa711 and there was a wine place a bit farther on.  When we got there, it was closed, but the proprietor of the beer place next door to it offered to open it for us.  Yes, most of the local Pennsylvania wines were sweet but we found a bottle chilled that seemed suitable-for $16.99--at least  a few dollars more than we usually spend.

We purchased it and at that point decided we were not going back to the Café to pay over $30 for each dinner and a corking fee.  So, MacDonald's it was--great burgers and fries in our room with a very nice wine to enjoy as well. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Busman's Holiday

Louise Nevelson
My docent duties at the South Bend Museum of Art were cancelled so I was left with a morning open for adventure.  I decided to visit the Midwest Museum of Art in Elkhart, Indiana, a place that has been on my local "bucket list" for a while. 

Grant Wood, 'Sheaves of Corn
Grant Wood
It was a pleasant 30 minute ride on mostly country roads to 429 North Main Street, a converted bank building in downtown Elkhart. I knew it was a pretty informal place when  the woman who greeted me couldn't seem to open the cash register so she told me to pay my $5 later.  I looked briefly at a Lincoln exhibit and then went on to the  galleries named for Richard and Jane Burns.

A work by Ed Paschke caught my eye because we have his strange portrait of a tattoed woman at the South Bend Museum of Art.  He is a Chicago artist--not surprising to find his work in Elkhart.  What was more surprising was to see works by Nevelson, Albers, Calder, Warhol, Rauschenberg,  Red Groom, Robert Indiana, Elaine De Kooning, and Grant Wood also hanging in the same galleries.. 

Ed Paschke

The docent who welcomed me asked if I had any questions.    When I mentioned how amazing it was to have these well known artists represented in their small museum, she said that she had scorned visiting the museum when she moved from NYC and said what will they have in the middle of those corn fields?  Pictures of corn growing? Now, she volunteers almost daily and her enthusiasm was obvious.

There is a large room upstairs with many lithographs of works by Norman Rockwell.  Some are the famous Saturday Evening Post covers but others were illustrations for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. 

Elizabeth Gray Overbeck, Mary Frances Overbeck, 'Vase (with birds & blossoms design)
Overbeck Pottery
 I was not as interested in them as I was in the next alcove which featured Overbeck Pottery, works done by three sisters in the early to mid 20th century in Cambridge City, Indiana.  There were six sisters in all, one who was the housekeeper, one who was the business manager, and one who was an early teacher of the others but died in 1911, the year the studio was founded.  Only one of the six married and had children who apparently still hold the secret to the glazes used.  I enjoyed their pottery and "grotesques" or little exaggerated figures, but also the idea of these  self-sufficient and creative women working in a small town in Indiana whose works won prizes and are displayed and valued in many places.
Anthony Droege

Later, Brian Byrn, the curator and as he said, the only curator, answered a question I had about white space in a painting.  He said it was intentional and probably was a magazine cover with space left for the title and contents just like the Norman Rockwell lithographs  He was eager to tell me about the Still Life exhibit--100 years of still lifes--both representative and abstract--that is just opening.  I was happy to see a Anthony Droege painting--again one of the artists at the SBMA. 

I browsed in the gift shop and decided to buy two tiny vases as a souvenir.  Byrn introduced me to the woman who wrapped my vases carefully.  Her name?  Jane Burns, the name on the gallery.  I was touched and said that while touring the museum, I was thinking about those who gave the money to buy this art and what a fine thing that was.  And here she was, wrapping my small purchase--and I could thank her personally.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Not such a quiet day!

Today was first Tuesday that I did not go to choir.  I was scheduled to do two fifth grade Museum Mornings at the South Bend Museum of Art but they were cancelled late last night. Suddenly the day was open and free.

Before I was retired, that would have pleased me immensely.  But today I was disappointed and couldn't seem to think of something that I wanted to do that would make it a good day.  Plus some allergies were bothering me and I did not feel full of energy.

So it is now 5:30 pm and soon Jim will be home for supper and I will have stories to tell him after all!

I was reading a great book (Snow Leopard) and found myself reading the same paragraph three times.  I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.   I was startled when the door bell rang. A very young man said he was from the sheriff's department.  He looked official enough but far too young.  He said there was a burglary on Weatherstone Court around the corner and asked if I had seen anything?  I had not but I had just walked that way two hours earlier and left my door unlocked. 

Around 4:45, I ventured out again, this time locking our front door.  There were several news organizations clustered on Weatherstone Court.  I stopped and gawked and so did another woman out walking her dogs.  I introduced myself and she did as well.  She said she often reports strangers in the neighborhood because she is a children's author working at home.

When I got home, I looked up her books.  Her name is Diane Bradley and she writes juvenile fiction set in Minnesota's past.  They looked like fun for me to read.  And I looked up the news online and yes, there was a home invasion interrupted by the home owner.  The two suspects may have been armed.  They fled on foot and have not been found yet. 

Maybe this day has been turned out more exciting than I had wanted.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Facing Reality

I am feeling sad because it's time to drop out of the Notre Dame Repertory Choir.  I cannot sing in the  April 19 performance because we are going to witness little Alex's baptism that weekend.  That may be just as well because the music is very challenging and I would  really hate to be the alto who sings the wrong rhythm or the wrong pitch or the wrong vowel sound. This is one excellent and demanding group.

The Britten piece has alto lines that go from a low E to a high g.  I lip-sync some phrases!  The Ralph-Vaughn Williams has an eight part chorus with soloists and if I am not able to be at the performance, the student conductor needs to know how to assign parts.  Carmen, the professor, told me not to sing loudly on my alto 2 part in chorus 2--and I said that I never dare sing loudly in this group! 

The joy of singing with the Repertory Choir has been the challenge of sight-reading and the fun of blending my ordinary choir voice with those who truly have beautiful solo voices.  But the sadness of singing is that sometimes the challenge is beyond my abilities and I don't want to hold anyone back. 

I'll  visit one more time before we leave for the east coast just to listen to how it all gets put together--and to bring a home-baked treat.  That seems to have been greatly appreciated.  In fact, one of the student conductors said that next year they may make it a requirement of any community member who auditions.

Another joy has been getting to know some of the students and attending their performances. I have felt a motherly pride in their MFA recitals and concerts.  I probably went to more events this year than ever before for that reason--and have been really blessed by the music I have heard. 

Buicks and Blogs

I chuckle every time I see this commercial.  An elderly woman who I hope  looks a few years older than I am is riding with a young man and learns that his Buick LaCrosse has wifi. 

"You mean I can update my blog from this car?" she asks.  "Whoaa." 

A bit later he responds in disbelief, "You have a blog?"

Yup, grandmas have blogs!


Monday, March 16, 2015

Cooking with the New York Times (and Raven)

I haven't blogged for over two weeks.   But this morning I told Jim that I "felt a blog coming on" as Jeff once put it. 

Raven, Dan's girlfriend (seems there should be a better word), has begun working in UX for the New York Times.  What is UX?    UX is User Experience and Raven will be on staff for at least a few months working on product development. . www.cookingnyt.com

I had been getting the NYT Cooking Newsletter for a few months.  Sometimes I am lazy and delete it, but sometimes I click on a recipe that looks interesting.  I have even saved a few recipes on their site, and have tried a Foolproof Apple Tartin which I did burn a bit but it was tasty.

Raven's new position has encouraged me to browse the site further.  We have texted and emailed back and forth several times as she has inquired why I click on some recipes and not others, how I save recipes, and what is the basis for my searches.  I have sent her photos of my old binder full of recipes, including some I've cut out from the NYT over the years. 

Being Raven's mid-Western consultant from Granger, Indiana has been great fun.

 But it has made me think about the transition to electronics here as in so many other areas of our lives.  I send some stamped cards or letters out, but far more frequently use email.  I print up some photos, but save far more on Shutterfly or GooglePhotos.   I use a recipe box and a notebook of recipes, but peruse many more on my laptop.