Saturday, December 31, 2011

i sing it 365

When the bells all ring
and the horns all blow
and the couples we know
are fondly kissing...

will I be with you
or will I be among the missing?

Maybe it's too early in the game,
ah, but I thought I'd ask you just the same.
What are you doing New Year's
New Year's Eve? 

Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight
when it's exactly twelve o'clock that night,
welcoming in the New Year
New Year's Eve.

Maybe I'm crazy to suppose
I'd ever be the one you chose,
out of the thousand invitations
you receive.

Ah, but in case I stand one little chance,
here comes the jackpot question in advance.
What are you doing New Year's
New Year's Eve?

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve
by Frank Henry Loesser, 1947

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I have a cold.

A good old fashioned cold. 

It dawned on me today that an old fashioned cold requires an old fashioned remedy.  Forget the spoonful of honey, lemon, and glycerine; I'm going for the Hendrick's.

Santa apparently read my post "gentleman george" back in October because he left a fat bottle of the gin under the tree for me.  I'm counting on the juniper in gin to heal me so I've just made myself a refreshing G and T.  Here's how I like it.

Put several ice cubes in (yes, of course) an old fashioned glass. 
Pour over them, an ounce and a half of gin. 
Squeeze a chunk of lime over the ice,
rub the rim of the glass with it and drop it in among the cubes. 
Fill the glass with tonic and give a very quick stir.

If one doesn't seem to help this cold, I'll have another. 

If the second G and T doesn't work, I'll follow the old fashioned folklore of making a wish on a crescent moon.  It's beautiful tonight!

Oh, but do I wish to be rid of the nasty cold?

Or do I wish for another bottle of Hendrick's?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

from now on maybe

Have yourself a merry little Christmas;
let your heart be light.
From now on, our troubles
will be out of sight.


I had a plan.  Christmas would look and feel different this year if I was to get through it, this first Christmas without them. 

It started with the lights. 

You see, I'm a tiny-white-lights gal.  Always have been, always will be.  I swoon over cafe trees whose trunks have been wrapped round and round and round with twinkling strands, and I will endure the heat to dine among them on patios in the summer. 

Colored lights would be a change I thought so I took the tiny-white-light strands off each tabletop tree we place around the house and I draped them with strings of red, green, gold, purple and blue.  Different!

My plan was for them to be simply colorful; I was not up for hanging ornaments this year.

I tried hard to like the trees before admitting they looked as pathetically sad as I felt, so I hung yards of silver-bead garland on the unadorned branches.  Better!  Pretty! 


That's where the plan fell apart. 

There was no Christmas I would describe as festive as the one my sister and I shared with our mother on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  Strings of colored lights were strung across the water and you could not look at their shimmering reflection and be anything other than merry.

One night we ate outside at Boudro's Texas Bistro so we could enjoy the show of lights.  It was freezing cold but we didn't care; we had on coats, hats and gloves.  Waiters pulled heaters up to our table and placed heavy wool blankets on our laps.  Fun!

Many Christmases lit-up by tiny-white-lights have come and gone since then and my heart is sad.  I miss them terribly.

But surprisingly, almost miraculously, as I putter through the house, the lights on our trees, the so colorful and festive lights have dared me to be anything but merry.

Through the years, we all will be together
if the fates allow.
Hang a shinging star upon the highest bough
and have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Mockingbird Station, Dallas
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas:
Music by Hugh Martin, Lyrics by Ralph Blane

Monday, December 19, 2011

when stockings were hung

There will come a day I'm sure, when I will begin to reminisce about these days; these music filled days of the past couple of years. 

I'll recall evenings with old friends; sitting at tables listening, drinking wine, telling each other about our week, the good and the bad. 

I'll remember meeting new friends who will have by then become dear old friends.  

Mostly, I'll remember the music.  I know I will.

Thank you Mark, George, Raylan and Jon.  You have made many of my days merry.

Friday, December 16, 2011

the library tree

The tree is squat and quite rotund.  It sits on the grounds by the library in the suburban city where I used to work. 

It was after midnight when I passed by last week and although the spectacular, Christmas Village scene set up behind the tree had been turned off for the night, I found myself circling back to park in the familiar library lot and walk over to look at the tree. 

I hadn't a clue what was propelling me to leave the warm car for it was one of those nights when the Dallas wind cuts right through you even though the temperature was really pretty pleasant.  Still, I pulled on my gloves and went out to admire this tree.

For so many years I'd watched the city workers string these lights, happy for the December holiday and then in January, unhappily back at work, I would watch the men take down the lights. 

It was too cold to enjoy taking more than a couple of pictures so I got back in my warm car and drove home but before going to bed, I posted a photograph of the library tree as my screen saver.

It was only as I traded my warm car for my warm bed that I realized why I had stopped to look at the library tree. 

I received, only a day or so before, a letter from the public library system of the adjacent suburb where my parents lived.  A book, Jazz: A History of America's Music, had been ordered with a bookplate to be inserted.  The inscription will read: 

In Memory of
Ernie and Colleen Roberson
Donated by
Brian, Marilyn and Chris Padden

We; my parents, my husband, my sister, my student-my friend, his parents, his siblings, their relatives...  Our lives, our love, our losses intertwine just like the lights do on this beautiful, library tree. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

i stopped by

I stopped by Eastside's Christmas Tree Lighting the other night, not expecting to run into Elton John, flashing that famous smile of his.

click to see for yourself

He was keeping the crowd swingin' to jolly tunes. 

Oh, except this guy. 

He was waiting on a girl I guess.  Maybe one of the Berkner Ramblers. 

You think?

I found myself a little Christmas spirit in this letter...

...and from this tiny fellow who was so, so tired by the end
of the night. 

Being Santa's helper is hard work. 

He told me so.

Elton in cognito: Jeff with DJ Connection

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

a sleeping giant

He reads to me now and then, from the book I gave him on his birthday in February.  It's The American Patriot's Almanac by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb. 

For each day of the year, there's an essay describing an event which occurred on that day in our country's history.  Of my many gifts to Spoke, I do believe this book might be the most cherished. 

As he's shared bits of it with me, I've learned some entertaining facts such as when the rose was designated our national flower and why Abraham Lincoln grew that now famous beard. 

Spoke was especially somber though, when he read me the short entry yesterday, describing the attack at Pearl Harbor that Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. 

The words were potent, and I pictured in my mind, the young, courageous Yeoman Durrell Conner hoisting the American flag to signal the sailors to return to the flames and try to save their ship. 

Thank you, Spoke. 

I was awakened from a dull and drowsy day.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

up on the roof

When this old world starts getting me down
and people are just too much for me to face,
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
and all my cares just drift right into space.

On the roof, it's peaceful as can be
and there the world below can't bother me.
Let me tell you now...

When I come home feelin' tired and beat
I go up where the air is fresh and sweet.
I get away from the hustling crowd
and all that rat-race noise down in the street.
On the roof, the only place I know
where you just have to wish to make it so. 

Let's go up on the roof.

At night the stars put on a show for free
and darling, you can share it all with me.

I keep a-tellin' you...

Right smack dab in the middle of town
I've found a paradise that's trouble proof
and if this world starts getting you down
there's room enough for two

up on the roof.

Oh, come on baby
Oh, come on honey

Everything is all right up on the roof.

Up On The Roof/Song and Lyrics/Gerry Goffin/Carole King
All photos at Zanata - Plano

Thursday, December 1, 2011

in four acts

I've been staying in lately, seeking some calm amid the merry onslaught which emerged in full force a week ago.

Since it takes this large pot of stock about the same amount of time to cook as it takes the tragic tale of La Boheme to be played, I've found peace and quiet with Puccini in the confines of a warm and steamy kitchen.

Vegetable Stock

5 carrots
5 stalks of celery
2 baking potatoes
2 leeks
1 large, sweet, yellow onion
a handful of parsley
a handful of thyme
2 bay leaves
a dozen black peppercorns

Act One
In a cold studio apartment in Paris, Rodolfo, one of four struggling, hungry artists, meets Mimi whose candle has gone out on her way up the stairs to her room.  She has a terrible cough and he invites her in.  They fall instantly in love and sing two of the most famous arias in all of opera.

Fill a large stockpot with 16 cups of cold water and place over medium high heat.

Carefully wash the carrots, celery, potatoes, and leeks, giving close attention to the dirt which may be in the layers of the leeks.  Set all aside.

Act Two
They join Rodolfo's friends for a crowded Christmas Eve celebration around the corner at Cafe Momus.  Rodolfo's friend Marcello, a painter, is reunited with Musetta, his former lover.  She sings Musetta's Waltz, another very famous aria. 

Peel and roughly chop the yellow onion, adding it to the stockpot.

Trim both ends of the carrots and the celery, chopping each and adding them to the pot.

Peel the potatoes and add the skins to the pot.  (Reserve the potatoes in a bowl of cold water for another use. I suggest a quick boil for potato salad while the stock cooks.)

Act Three
Mimi goes to a tavern hoping to talk to Marcello about Rodolfo's increasing jealousy which she fears is forcing them apart.  Rodolfo, with Mimi out of sight, tells Marcello it is his fear of Mimi's failing health that is scaring him away.  The two lovers decide to suffer the winter together before parting in the spring.

Rinse the parsley and the thyme.  Throw the thyme sprigs in the pot but give the parsley a rough chop then add them to the stock.  Toss in the bay leaves and the peppercorns.

Bring the stock to a boil and cook over medium high heat for about forty-five minutes. 

Act Four
Months later, the two romances have failed.  Musetta arrives at the artists' apartment, with a dying Mimi who has asked to return to the room where she was once so happy.  The friends leave, hoping to barter their personal belongings for medical help.  They return to find Mimi reminiscing with Rodolfo about their first meeting before taking her last breath.

Reduce and simmer, covered, until the opera is over. 

Allow the stock to cool then strain through a fine mesh sieve.  Discard the vegetables. 

Pat your eyes dry.

La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini
Premiered at Teatro Regio, Turin, Italy, February 1, 1896

Thursday, November 24, 2011

come with me

Thanksgiving, The Dallas Arboretum, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

i'm reminded

Of all the pictures I've taken, this may be my favorite.  It is so, not because it's the best or even a great photo, but because it reminds me of many things.  And I need sometimes to be reminded.

It reminds me of the enveloping hugs I received this year from many kind people.

It reminds me of stepping from shade into sun in the parks and along the streets of Florence on December afternoons. 

I envision an aging couple, strolling slowly, hand in hand down the middle of the path.  I know that if we are blessed, and in what will feel like the blink of my eye, Spoke and I will be that couple, shuffling along together under this canopy.  I'm reminded what a gift our love is.

I'm reminded of the magnificence of nature; these trees, willingly and gracefully bending for us.

There is a famous, uncredited photograph taken in France, of a man and a very young boy, together on a bicycle, riding down a street lined by trees much like these.  Two long baguettes are tied to the back of the bike.  There are times when I look at that picture and ache terribly to be somewhere else; somewhere I imagine the grass to be greener.  Then I am reminded of these trees, in this arboretum, where I can come and sit under their sway until I am ready to head home, stopping perhaps to pick up a couple of baguettes. 

I'm reminded that I believe there is light at the end.

Monday, November 14, 2011


I don't want to be alone, I want to be left alone. "

Audrey Hepburn

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

a barnes and noble afternoon

The minute I stepped into Barnes and Noble at Lincoln Park, I could hear them.  Up the escalator I went and my Saturday afternoon got a whole lot better.

George was on guitar and all toes were tapping.


Ray and Jon of course...

And Mark... 

Time to pull up a chair.

The Mark McKenzie Quartet; donating their Saturday afternoon 
in the bookstore, for a local church. 

I told you they're a great group of guys. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

bye-bye october

It's November!  I can barely believe it. 

I know October ended last night for there were children knocking on our door much of the evening.  Precious children and all of them polite with "Thank-You" and "Happy Halloween" shouted over their shoulders as they flew down the steps, their candy buckets and bags just a wee bit heavier.

I had as much fun watching Spoke as I did the trick-or-treaters.  As kids would knock on the door, Spoke from inside, would knock back.  Freaked out a few! 

"You like Double-Bubble?" he asked as he dished it out.  If they answered yes, he'd glare and accuse them of sticking it under their desks at school.  Caught!

It's nice the month goes out on such a happy note. 

I hope November does too but I have my doubts.  Serious doubts.  With The Holidays right around the corner, I'm feeling like such a child myself;  I want my mama!  I want my daddy!