All posts by Barbara in Rivertown

OH, sIT cLOSE!

At my mother’s residence (and nursing home) several weeks ago, she and I attended a concert in the Main Dining Room, where there is a baby grand piano. A collection of string quartets (and one trio) were performed by students from St. Mary’s University String Festival – a 10-day music camp for middle and high school musicians. 

The campers attended concerts of the Minnesota Beethoven Festival, whose dates coincided with the camp dates, and a concert performed by the St. Mary’s faculty – aka the Lark Quartet. The students also gave two concerts, one as community outreach that acted as their dress rehearsal, which is what Mom and I saw.

I wasn’t sure if Mom would last the entire concert, and in order to position us with an “escape path”, we sat to the far left, but ended up quite close to the First Violin. Now that I think of it, I doubt if she had ever sat so close to a performer before. The first few offerings by the young musicians went well enough. Just when I thought she might be falling asleep, she sat up a little straighter and looked at me out of the corner of her eye – she was REALLY enjoying this, and was enthralled with watching whomever was in the first chair position. Not only did she last the entire hour-long concert, she talked to the students as they came around to greet us afterward, and said over and over how she had never seen anything like it before. She was charmed, and so were they.

I remember at the end of my first summer in San Francisco, I got to see the traveling Broadway show Hair, twice in one week. The first time was with tickets acquired in the usual way, and we were in the second balcony so got to see, essentially, an overview. Two days later my roommate and I were offered tickets by her friend who could not attend – these were in the Third Row Center… I will never forget this experience as long as I live.

When have you seen a performance “up close and personal”?

Which do you generally prefer – an overview, or a close-up experience?

First Day of School

The other day I came upon one of the most charming news clip ever:  someone from MPR had interviewed Kindergarten Alumni (aka, First Graders) about how to survive the first day of kindergarten. It is part of a story by Elizabeth Shockman, “Five Tips for Kindergarteners’ FIRST Day of School”, with content actually aimed for their parents.

In a video by Derek Montgomery,

“We asked first graders from Duluth, MN, what advice they had for this year’s kindergarten class.”

These were the topics the kids were asked about:

Friends:  how do you make them?

Food!  What’s on the menu?

Is it scary?

What about rules?

I will personally never forget my first day of kindergarten – as a teacher, that is. Boy, was I nervous! It all went fine, apparently – once I was able to pry them out of their parents’ arms. I eventually managed to get all forty of them to sit down in their seats – at seven little tables with forty-odd little chairs. They would have received their personalized box of crayons, and tried them out on some paper handout I would’ve prepared. Some of them would have been able to write their names – wish I knew what percentage. (This was 1970, so most of them would not have been to a pre-school or day care.) I would have directed one table at a time to take the crayons, when finished, to their “cubbies” – their special place to keep their things. I would have tried herding them to the carpet area for a story, sung some songs, and had recess outside in our own private little courtyard. I wish I could remember more.

Do you have any memories about your first day of kindergarten? (You can use the questions above to jog your memory…)

How about memories of a first day of any new school year?

Surprise! It’s a Wedding

I’ve observed recently how many weddings are more expensive and elaborate than they used to be, while at the same time skipping over some of the tried and true rituals – paper invitations in the mail comes to mind. This week’s CBS Sunday Morning program featured something I’d never heard of before – a Surprise Wedding. What happens is this:  the happy couple, for whatever personal reasons, invite their desired guests to a Party, and once everyone is there partying, announce that that it is ALSO THEIR WEDDING. In the show’s clips , the guests were loud and ecstatic in one, and kind of stunned and subdued in the other. (I wonder if, for the surprise wedding where everyone was so joyous, they let at least the parents know ahead of time.)

I can imagine why someone would want to try this, considering all the difficulties and angst involved in wedding planning. When Husband and I started contemplating our wedding, we got stymied at the guest list – my extended family was all over the map, plus I’d already made them travel to one wedding that did NOT prove to work out. Husband’s family is huge, and where do we stop – if you invite one cousin, should you invite all 39? We kept putting off the decisions, and then decided to elope! We did tell our folks about it beforehand.

There are a few planners, apparently, who can help you pull it off. It does seem to cut down quite a bit on the wedding gifts, but with any luck you’ve also cut down on some of the expenses.

How do you think you would react to being at a party, and discovering you were also at a Surprise Wedding?  What’s the most fun you’ve ever had at a wedding?

Maui Wedding

Well, we did it – just spent close to a week in Hawaii on the west end of Maui (near Lahaina) for Stepson Mario and Natalie’s. Husband and I have a difficult time committing to plans far ahead of time, so right from the start this was an exercise in letting go. We also don’t fly often, and each time we do there are new things to get used to – what exactly is “flight mode” ? (Found out it only applies to smart phones, and ours is a dumb phone). Booking online is still scary for me – I long for the days of travel agents to do it for you.

By the time we made our reservations last November, the cheaper flights all involved either two stopovers or a Red-eye flight, and we got one of each on this trip. Luckily we made all of our connecting flights, and the only problems flying were that “caged” feeling you get in narrow airline seats, and the inability to really sleep on a plane. We were able to avoid jet-lag by waiting to sleep until we were ready to drop, and then logging in a good long stretch before the next full day.

Rental Car Chickens

The wedding and dinner (at a seaside restaurant called Merriman’s) also went off without a hitch; all 34 of us behaved properly (at least while I was awake) – youngest daughter teared up and was not able to finish her solo song during the ceremony, but no problem. The vows were touching and sometimes funny, and the stories told during the ceremony and dinner were heartwarming.

Most of our days were spent doing things with the family, a lot of it on the beaches, for which we were grateful. We reconnected with the various other parents (there were a lot of us, there’s a story for another time.) It was soothing to hear and watch the waves, and playing in the ocean.

We are so very glad we made the effort to get there – it was definitely an event not to be missed.

What’s the farthest you’ve traveled for a Wedding or other Major Event?

What Day Is It?

In December I picked up (on sale) the 2019 National Day Calendar: The Official, Authoritative Source for Fun, Unusual & Unique National Days. Thought it would be good for possible blog posts, but I’d kind of forgotten about it till now. I notice that March is full of them –  we’ve already missed:

– Read Across America Day – March 1, also called Dr. Seuss Day, and

– Fat Tuesday – March  5 – which was also Multiple Personality Day. (I wonder how you celebrate that?!)

However, we haven’t missed:

– International Women’s Day – March 8, of which you may be aware. And we know

– Pi Day – March 14 – is coming up next week, thanks to VS’ parties.

Here are more holiday highlights from the rest of March that you can still celebrate. I’ve found online explanations of how some of these “holidays” came to be. (I’m not taking time for details on all of these gems, so feel free to give us details on the ones I’ve neglected.)

 – Worship of Tools Day – March 11 ..“a day to go out into the garage, the tool shed, the storage closet or where ever it is you keep your tools. You can clean them, reorganize them, make something new with them or maybe go to the store and buy a new one.”

– Plant a Flower Day – March 12

– Good Samaritan Day – March 13

– Corned Beef & Cabbage Day – March 17   (not surprisingly)

– Awkward Moments Day – March 18

– Common Courtesy Day – March 21   (also French Bread Day)

– Near Miss Day – March 23 ..“an annual reminder of the day in 1989 when an asteroid nearly collided with the Earth.”

– Tolkien Reading Day – March 25 ..“organised by the Tolkien Society since 2003 to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages.

– Joe Day – March 27  “Enjoy a cup of ‘joe’ with all of your friends named Joe, Jo, Josette, Joey, Joseph, Josephine, Johanna, Joann, Jodie or any variant of the name Joe every year”

– Take a Walk in the Park Day – March 30

What holiday do you wish we could celebrate? When on the calendar would you put it?

Snowstorm

Today’s post comes from Barbara In Rivertown.

WELL, I guess we’ve finally got our snow, at least here in Minnesota. I remember, at the end of that December-January dry spell saying “Oh, we really need some snow or there will be a drought come April, when there’s supposed to be a thaw.” Watch what you ask for – request was granted!

It was so pretty that I took some photos, and Ben sent a few taken from his driveway. A friend of mine has allowed me to post one she took on her patio, that is quite naturally dubbed The Birthday Cake.

There will no doubt be more snow – heck, we’re not even through February!

What’s the longest you’ve been snowed in somewhere – where you really couldn’t get out?

What’s a great “snowed-in” story from a movie or book?

Epic Opening Lines

As I was wandering up the stairs at our public library the other day, my journey was arrested by the bright-colored bulletin board pictured in the header. This board is changed monthly, and frequently has things like Staff book picks, or children’s drawings with a book pick, etc.

But this was over the top! A bright orange sign up top announces “Epic Opening Lines”, and another orange sign to the left asks “Any of these sound familiar?” On brightly colored cards are printed thirty one- or two-sentence beginnings to a book; you can lift the flap to peek at the title and author of the book represented. It was a challenge to see if I could recognize any of them – a few were familiar, and one or two were obvious, but many I had never laid eyes on. I realized when I started looking them up at home that quite a few were Young Adult or children’s novels.

Since I doubt if you can read them all from the header, I’ll type several of them here, and see if any baboons can guess them – then I’ll reveal answers Sunday. Here you go:

1. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

2. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

3. They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.

4. I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.

6. This is the saddest story I have ever heard.

10. The early morning sky was the color of cat vomit. Of course, Tally thought, you’d have to feed your cat only salmon-flavored cat food for a while, to get the pinks right.

11. The moment one learns English, complications set in.

14. “Where’s Papa going with that axe?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

15. Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex’s admonition, against Allen’s angry assertion: another African amusement… anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa’s antipodal ant annexation.

16. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

17. It was a pleasure to burn.

20. Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women.

23. I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get.

24. There is a right way to do things and a wrong way, if you’re going to run a hotel in a smuggler’s town. You shouldn’t make it a habit to ask too many questions, for one thing. And you probably shouldn’t be in it for the money.

27. All children, except one, grow up.

28. It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.

29. In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

30. Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.

Do you have a favorite opening line(s) from a book you’ve read?