Wednesday, December 27, 2017

On the Third Day of Christmas

Today, the Third Day of Christmas, I mailed my Christmas cards. Well, I mailed seven of them. I took them to the North Buffalo Post Office. It was about zero degrees. There was a line, how about that? Perhaps others too are observing the 12 Days of Christmas!

Carefully I selected a variety of Christmas designs. Stamps are kind of cheesy these days but the Madonna and Child stamps are not too bad, and I kind of like the caroling stamps too. Or I did before I saw how tiny and cheap they are. Well, still cute, with the "Fa la la."

Fa la la la la la la.

I wished the clerk Merry Christmas and she said the same to me. When I mailed my cards I asked if she would take my picture and kindly she complied. That was nice of her! Now we have that nifty picture up above.

The seven envelopes I did get done looked spiffy.

Anyway. Seven down, about 107 to go. That is all right!

I am enjoying myself!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

On the Second Day of Christmas...

Today I celebrated the Second Day of Christmas by writing and addressing a few Christmas cards. It is not as easy as it looks!

Now I see why all these years I never get around to sending Christmas cards. Leonard Pennario used to send Christmas cards and if he could find time to do it, I can, you know?


Where do you find people's addresses these days? I have some close friends who, I do not have their addresses.

Not only that but, my slogan in life should be: "It is never time for the artist to lift her brush."

I am never done!

I am making touches on the card I am mailing. I drew and painted them myself, which does not help things along. My sister and I began drawing our own cards to send to each other and that started it. This is one design of about 20 I have --

... and now I have become obsessed with decorating envelopes. These people I am sending cards to will be so embarrassed! The whole neighborhood will notice these cards.

On the other hand ... on the other hand ....

I do not devote huge portions of my life to this. I had to work today. I had to do other writing. Doing cards is something you can do with shards of time here and there. When Howard is on the computer. When he is watching a video of some pianist lecturing you on how to play Schubert. I can listen while doodling around with this stuff.

Late at night is also a good time to do this.

You will go to bed with visions of sugarplums!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Buon Natale!

I wish I had been doing a better job of chronicling my Christmas season. I will get better at that!

Meanwhile, I have been having the best time. Besides getting done things that need to get done, I have -- let me think -- gone tobogganing at Chestnut Ridge, gone cross-country skiing in Delaware Park, baked cookies, painted my own Christmas cards, had a Tom & Jerry's at Rohall's Corner, gone Christmas caroling TWICE, with 20 friends each time -- and what else? I made peppermint ice cream with my niece. I have been enjoying all of the Celestial Seasonings Christmas teas. On a dramatic snowy night, I viewed the Festival of Lights at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine.

And best of all --

This morning, going to Mass at St. Anthony's, I got to tell people "Buon Natale."

We did not have a coffee hour today, it being Christmas Eve, and a lot of people being in too big of a hurry. I was not one of those people! Had I had my druthers we would have held the coffee hour. But anyway, I hung around long enough after Mass to greet the people arriving for the next Mass, the Italian Mass.

And I got to tell them "Buon Natale!"

"Buon Natale," I told my friend Peter LoJacono, who was setting up for the Mass. That is he in the picture up above! I did not mean to take his picture but he turned up in it. Peter said it back to me and he said it beautifully and musically and authoritatively, so I got to emulate him.

In front of the church when I was leaving I greeted people coming in.

"Buon Natale," I sang out, hoping I would sound like Peter.

And I must have succeeded, because this couple coming in totally acted as if it were business as usual.

"Grazie, grazie," the husband said. He and his wife then wished me Buon Natale.

Is that great or what?

You could shell out to go to Italy or you can do this.

Surely Leonard Pennario was looking down on me smiling, this being the church where he was baptized and everything. He loved Christmas, and still does, I am sure. It is funny to think I was with him 10 years ago tonight on Christmas Eve. You do not have to ask what we were doing. We were eating!

And I was wishing him Buon Natale!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The first "The Sound of Music"

 I found this movie, "The Trapp Family." Long story why I found it, but it was "The Sound of Music" before "The Sound of Music."

It was a German movie, made in 1956 and based on Maria von Trapp's memoirs. It's fascinating to see. You don't have the songs, of course. But I was surprised by how well I liked it. I haven't watched the whole thing, I must admit. I watched it until a little bit after their wedding. But still.

The Maria in this movie looks sort of like Julie Andrews. She was a German actress named Ruth Leweurik. Being a classical music nerd I happen to know she was briefly married to my favorite singer, the baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Watching the movie I see why. What a beautiful actress. She died last year at 91, yikes. But anyway...

This movie is really interesting to see. Scene by scene it is a lot like "The Sound of Music." I have to think it influenced "The Sound of Music." How could it not?

There is a beautiful scene where Maria is leaving the convent and hears the nuns singing the Salve Regina. We sing that Salve Regina a lot at St. Anthony's. It is fun in the wedding scene how the sisters get Maria dressed up and it looks as if the Mother Superior is giving her away.

Also, being that today I put up my Christmas tree, I have to alert you to amazing Christmas footage in this movie. It begins 33 minutes in.

You have Captain von Trapp, up on a ladder, trimming this gigantic Christmas tree. By the way, this Captain von Trapp, I do not know who he is but he is really cute. Really. Actually the scene where he and Maria fall in love is as good as in "The Sound of Music."

Anyway, back to Christmas, you see him up in this ladder, attending to this big tree. Then you have the candles on the tree. And the singing of Christmas carols. All in this breathtaking mansion. Then Christmas Eve with all these presents, and a lavish dinner. ...

Why can't my life be like this??

Immediately I set about putting up my tree and doing the lights just right. Here is a trail of lights leading up to my Christmas tree for the great work of art in progress.

There is no way in the world that I am going to measure up.

But I must try!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Back to the drawing board

I am doing a watercolor challenge. I love these art challenges you find on the Internet, and I have hooked onto one of them.

This is from Doodlewash, an international group of, ahem, watercolorists. I like that they are better than I am. I want to play with the big kids. I did some painting when I was a kid but I have no pretentions. I would like to learn from people who are better at it than I am.

So every day I do a watercolor. It really only takes minutes. The one I did today, Tree, I did in the morning between eating breakfast and making Howard's lunch.

But seriously, you do learn. You try this and you try that and eventually you find something you like. The picture at the top of this post is my painting of, ahem, Holly. That was the prompt the other day.

And before that was "Lights." I was kind of proud of these lights, you know?

OK, so the green one was a little bit whacked. The rest look pretty good.

There is something so relaxing about watercolors. They just know where to go. You dip your brush in water and you dip them in the paint, and then the paints take it from there. In my humble and limited experience.

Also doing something like this ever day reminds you that you can work more artistry into your everyday life. Leonard Pennario told me that when he was a kid he decided that he wanted to enjoy everything he did. This is cousin to that.

For instance last Sunday I enjoyed making my coffee hour signs.

What is next for me? That question is easy to answer.

Tomorrow is "Star."

Another day, another drawing!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

We're putting the tree up ...

... or we should be, anyway!

Driving to the Philharmonic last night, I said to Howard, all the better houses have their Christmas trees up already. Up and down Nottingham Terrace, those trees were sparkling. I cannot remember a prettier Christmas. They all had their trees up.

I do not!

I love putting the tree up. The day I put my Christmas tree up is one of the happiest days of the year. If not the happiest. It depends on what happens the rest of the year.  And it is funny because almost invariably it is just me. Howard is not home yet. I have a new tradition with myself, I put on the Carmen Dragon Christmas album pictured above, and I pour a glass of wine, and I trim the tree, and I am happy.

This year little George and Barbara, my niece and nephew, have been lobbying to be part of my tree trimming. But I do not know about that! I look forward to this date with myself. Well, I could be persuaded.

But anyway...

The day I take the tree down is one of the saddest days of the year. I hate taking the tree down, I just do. I always do it under duress.

I might wind up being one of those Charlie Chaplin people who keep the tree up all year round! My friend Melissa does that. It can be done.

However then you would miss that happy day when you put it up! And that is what I am awaiting right now.

Today was the first Sunday of Advent. I love this day. It thrills me. Cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. There will be signs in the moon and in the stars. It is time for the tree. There are people at church who try to remind me that Advent historically was a time of penance, but I am sorry, that horse...

... is out of the corral and there is no putting him back in.

And so I am seeking to put up my tree. It is just that it has been hovering around 50 degrees and that is too warm. Also it was November. As a friend said, you need it to be December. Now finally it is December.

We have been having caroling practice at my house for several weeks now and so I am thinking it is time.

Perhaps tomorrow is the day!