My Latest Obsession

February 7, 2016 at 8:15 am (Musicals) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hamilton is a hip hop musical about the first Secretary of the United States Treasury. Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant, a revolutionary and a founding father.  Born out of wedlock, raised in the West Indies, and orphaned as a child, Hamilton traveled to New York City where he pursued a college education with the help of local Caribbean philanthropists.

Image credit: Hamilton Broadway

Image credit: Hamilton Broadway

Hamilton is a musical about freedom and war; about taking one’s shot and improving your situation in life. It is a story of an immigrant who bettered his adopted country. It is a love story and a family saga.

At the beginning we meet the bros, the young men who are future revolutionaries, as they meet Alexander Hamilton. Here are the ruffians enraptured with war: John Laurens , an abolitionist who fought for equal rights for all men regardless of colour, Lafayette, the future French revolutionary and Hercules Mulligan, future spy.

Here also are the elders; the men whom Hamilton looks up to because of their wealth or family. Here is the fellow orphan, Aaron Burr whose father founded a major university, who cautions Alexander to “talk less and smile more.” Alexander looks up to Burr because he wants what Burr was born into, a respectability that comes from having the proper family and background.

Later on, there will be appearances by presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. We even get to hear from King George.

These men were not just the United States’ founding fathers, they were also just men. Anything that makes as see these icons as regular people is good. You can feel the characters aging and changing as they grow from young men into statesmen. You start to feel sorry for contemplative Burr as the cocky upstart Hamilton keeps outpacing him.

This is a man’s musical with its issues of paternity, privilege and legacy. It is a story of fatherless sons with issues. Hamilton bristles over Washington calling him son. Listen to his tone in Meet Me Inside as Hamilton demands of Washington – “Don’t call me son.”

Hamilton’s lack of a father makes him try twice as hard to be better than everyone else in all aspects of manhood. (He was such a rake that Martha Washington named her tomcat after him.)

Burr’s lack of a father taught him to be unassuming and cautious in stating his views – he strives to stay congenial.

Yes, there are women in this play. The Schuyler sisters  are New York elite not beyond slumming in the city scooping out the poor soldiers. They are portrayed mainly as sisters, wives and mothers although the eldest, Angelica is shown as a smart and curious woman easily Hamilton’s equal in thought,word and deed.

Family Nest

Hamilton is a soap opera-ish musical about American politics. It reminds me of the television series The West Wing which was my introduction to the business of politics. I am educated by Hamilton. I did not know that originally the losing presidential candidate became vice-president or that Aaron Burr was one of the first to campaign door to door. It is the best musical to listen to now as the United States gears up for another presidential election.

I also didn’t know that the first government sex scandal involved Alexander Hamilton. Sex and money – the eternal duo. For Hamilton song annotations go here.

Duel

I did know about the Hamilton/Burr duel. What I didn’t realize was how common duels were back then.There are three duels portrayed in this musical.

First, Laurens and General Charles Lee dueled just outside Philadelphia after Laurens took offense to Lee’s slander of General George Washington’s character. This was a duel for honour and George Washington knew nothing of the duel until it was over.

Second, Alexander Hamilton’s eldest son Philip is killed in a duel avenging his father’s good name. I always cry at this point in the musical as this nineteen year old boy dies and his parents can do nothing but grieve and reminisce. Musicals don’t usually make me cry!

The third duel occurs during the conclusion of the piece and is between Hamilton and Burr and will be well known to any connoisseur of American history.

I am a connoisseur of American history. I took my “first history course just for fun” the first time I went to University. It was History 1212: History of the United States to 1877. I drew pictures alongside my notes (look there’s Lincoln in his stove pipe hat) and everyone wanted to borrow my notes.

Lincoln

Hamilton is not just a history lesson it also touches on other subjects, like language. In the song, Take A Break,  we hear a treatise on the nuances of love and comma use. What is the difference between “my dearest Angelica” versus “my dearest, Angelica?”

If I had grown up near Broadway I would have eaten rice every day just so that I could save up enough money to see ALL the musicals/plays. I’ve never seen Bernadette Peters or Mandy Patinkin on the stage and so want to. I want to watch Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park With George live not only on PBS (though thank the stars PBS exists and broadcasts Broadway plays or I’d have not seen one until I was in my thirties).

I also thank the stars for access to the Tony Awards as this has always been my conduit to Broadway. Is this how I first heard about Hamilton? I don’t remember. How many Tonys did Hamilton get in 2015? None it seems. “Hamilton,” did not get any Tony nominations in 2015 because it first ran off-Broadway during that year and transferred to Broadway later in the summer. It will be the musical to watch for during the 2016 Tony Awards Show.

So, I can’t tell you how I first became aware of Hamilton because I don’t remember.

Colourful neighbours

I grew up in an homogeneous society; I didn’t encounter a black person until I was in my teens and did not become acquainted with openly gay people until I entered university for the second time when I was in my thirties.

However, I have always tried to keep myself open to all points of view even though I have very little money to explore other places. I mostly travel to the past, present, and future through the written word. I travel through books and through story – including musical depictions. Long before I got to see Angels in America, I listened to the soundtrack over and over and over again. I create the look of story characters based on my own knowledge and life experience.

I am proud to call myself a Hamilton fan and a story aficionado.

Now, I’ve gone down the Rabbit Hole – curse you Internet!

Something extra for those of you who don’t read comics about librarians!

P.S. I want these for Valentine’s Day. Buy from Etsy.

 

 

 

 

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Vibrant Winter

January 31, 2016 at 8:15 am (Meme) (, , , , , , , , )

Peek of Sunlight

The weather has been too warm this week. It is the end of January in Saskatchewan and we should not be having plus temperatures. I hate this weather. I would rather be cold. I know how to dress and live with the cold.

I hate this January weather. I hate the ice it makes. I hate this incongruous weather. I hate the fact that January is too warm – it is misbehaving.

The only thing I like is the way the vibrant sun reflects so lovely off the snow!

Winters Sun

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Double Trouble

January 24, 2016 at 9:05 am (Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to combine two challenges in one post.

Today I give you optimistic from The Daily Post and Travel Theme:Future.

Okay, I also give you cute cat pictures.

:-)

Here is my cat "hiding"

Here is my cat “hiding”

She keeps me optimistic. She makes me smile. She helps me to stay in the now and remember that all this too will pass.

Cat hiding in bag!

Cat hiding in bag!

She is also my future. I became her forever home a year ago when she was just turning two and I vow to be with her for the next fifteen to twenty years. Which means that we both will have to survive long enough to become old! Which means I have new motivation to eat better and exercise more. Which I need because some days I’m not the most motivated person in the room.

My cat is. She’s motivated to take her next nap after she tears around the room and pretends to hide.

LOL.

“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne

“We’ll never survive!”
“Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”
– The Princess Bride
William Goldman

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Sez Me Street

January 17, 2016 at 8:15 am (Fun) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Today’s post is brought to you by the Letters:

SH, I, N, E, S & H…

Shine

And the number 5!

Fives

I miss watching Sesame Street.

It is, in my opinion, the best place to learn the alphabet!

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Luxury

January 10, 2016 at 8:15 am (Faery tales, Fun) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Luxury. What is luxury?

Is it raspberries every day? My own personal chef and driver?

Is it owning a VW bug?

The thing is, I’m no longer trying to keep up with the Jones or anybody else (not even my sisters or any other family members that I use to envy).

I have what I need – a house of my own, a cat, enough to eat and wear and read. The things I want are not as tangible. What I want are good friends, a healthy long life and just enough noise and laughter and love in my life as I can stand.

Not less then ten years ago I would have said that I wanted Beauty’s library or a Victorian house.

I’ve since discovered that all I really need is a decent library within walking distance and that Victorian homes are too big for only one person to inhabit and clean!

Now I know that bigger is not necessarily better as the cat and I rattle around in a three bedroom home with a never used basement.

I could go smaller and still be content within myself.

But, ah, if I had money to burn, money to waste.

I might spend some of it on a Faberge animal or automaton or heart-shaped box (no, not this one or maybe this one) or one of his amazingly realistic flowers. I’ve long coveted Faberge eggs. I’d had loved to have had access to the original Faberge workshop. As a teen, I didn’t want to keep up with the Jones I wanted to keep up with the Romanovs! And if I couldn’t be a Romanov I wanted to study with a 19th century Russian ballet company.

Or I might buy this very cute bejeweled silkworm by Henri Maillardet.

dancers-practicing-at-the-barre-1877

No, to be completely honest, I’d buy a Degas – one of his dancers (painting or sculpture it really doesn’t matter).

But with the price hovering over ten million pounds, I’m pretty sure I’ll never have that much money to spend recklessly!

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Now

January 1, 2016 at 9:58 am (Meme) (, , , , , , , , )

Don't Fall

I walked home last night around ten pm, the sky was crystal clear with millions of stars. I found Orion for the first time in a long time. I did not have my camera but then I don’t take pictures of the night sky because they never match the magnificence of the naked eye.

This is now.

Happy New Year.

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Christmas at the Farm

December 27, 2015 at 8:15 am (Life, Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

A few years ago, without purpose or intent, my nephew bought my grandparent’s homestead. The only structure, of theirs, left standing was the old red barn which got destroyed in a windstorm this past summer!

Barn Collapsing

I’m not sure if this was my grandparent’s original home quarter, that is, the first place that they lived when they came to Canada. I’m pretty sure that this is where my father was raised. He was always very nostalgic about the farm and the surrounding country schools and rural towns nearby.

My nephew was not at first aware of the personal history when he went to look at the place. My father’s parents were both dead by the time he was born.

There is a synchronicity here. A place that once was important to the family comes back full circle.

I spent many happy Christmases here as a child and am now returning to make new memories for a new generation.

Tradition

Tradition. Traditions are important. Growing up, it was customary to spend Christmas at the farm and Easter with my mother’s parents. This was partly because my mother didn’t drive and partly because her father did not want to drive cross-country in the winter. Plus, mom is basically an only child (her bachelor brother was 13 years older) so Christmas at the farm was a lot more fun!

All the aunts and uncles would come and altogether there was twenty or so grand-children ranging through the ages from baby boomers to generation X ers (1956 – 1973), from babies to young teenagers. We were a diverse group.

Mom would take us four kids to Christmas eve service, we’d get to open one gift that night and then in the morning we would open the rest of our gifts and Grandpa would come pick us up for the short drive (15 minutes) to the farm. I couldn’t sit next to grandpa because I was a wiggler and was always bumping the gear shift.

Once at the farm we would all sit down to a big meal, after which the women would wash dishes, the men would talk and the children (no exceptions) would be sent outside to play because once the dishes were done the grown-ups would get down to some serious card playing.

Christmas Eve 2014

We didn’t mind. We’d make forts in the hay stack (this was when hay was stored in smallest rectangle bundles), play in the snow and generally run around going crazy until we got cold.

Once back inside, we would squeeze by the grown-up card players and settle into the smallish living room to watch the Christmas movie on CBC. This movie almost always seemed to star Hayley Mills. I remember parts of Tiger Bay and The Family Way; my favourite was The Trouble With Angels!

We would lay on the floor staring intently at the black and white TV. The youngest children slowly nodding off. Grandma’s Christmas cactus, which eldest sister still nourishes parts of, was a bright pink and green splotch in the corner.

There would be leftovers for supper after dark and slowly us kids would be bundled up and taken home where, no doubt, we slept soundly long through the night. No doubt, sweet dreams abounded.

My grandparent’s home was such a small house yet it still held all of us (20 kids, 9 parents, 2 grandparents and an occasional neighbour or two). I don’t remember feeling crowded. My nephew’s house is probably three times as big with half the amount of people coming for Christmas Eve and it can still feel too crowded to me!

Elf

I’m not saying that I never felt crowded out at my grandparents. Too much party, too many people and I need to escape to somewhere quiet. I’ve always been this way. Neither me or my cat are extroverts.

Too much and I need a place to hide close enough that I still feel like I’m part of the party. At my grandparents that was the spare bedroom right beside the quiet living room which was right beside the crowded dining room full of grown-ups. When I got overwhelmed, I would grab a book (the older I got the more likely it would be that I would have a book with me) and disappear into the bedroom to read all by myself.

All my life, I’ve curled up in a corner reading as life and chatter swirled around me. This is where I feel most at home. This is when I feel most warm, secure and safe. If anyone needed to find me, they instinctively knew where I was! I was somewhere quiet reading!

I loved getting together with my cousins. I loved the sociability. With them I learned on my feet, to get along with people and what love is.

Yes, even though, I was the one hiding in the corner with a book.

This is one of my traditions.

Chicken Bones

As a family of one (and a cat), I mostly get to enjoy the holiday as I want to and I definitely get to create my own traditions.

My traditions are:

  • Garlands of Stars,
  • Celebrating the Winter Solstice,
  • Chicken Bones (see above – I once tried explaining this candy to my Montreal boyfriend and he pictured actual glazed chicken bones),
  • Watching the 1966 Grinch Who Stole Christmas,
  • Watching a darker Christmas movie (like Die Hard or Gremlins),
  • Watching The Nightmare Before Christmas (at both Halloween and Christmastime),
  • Spending time alone reading.

Enjoy your particular traditions.

It is snowing right now. It is a soft, drifting snow. It covers all the bleakness of my lawn and makes it look soft and warm and white.

Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night!

 

 

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Travel Theme: Naughty or Nice

December 20, 2015 at 8:15 am (Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Santa is making a list and checking it twice; am I naughty or nice?

Naughty

I’ve always wanted to be naughty. To be the child that would stick out her tongue at strangers who were annoying her.

What is naughty? Is it evil? Is it cruel? Does it involve committing one or more of the seven deadly sins?

I’ll admit that I’ve been envious and coveted what others seem to get so easily. I eat too much. I want too much. I laze about when there is work to be done. I lust after pleasures and in my darkest daydreams am quick to stomp my feet and come to anger. I’ve stolen. I’ve lied. I’ve cheated.

But I do these things more in my heart (Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart) and my imaginings than in my real life!

Naughty is not necessarily sinful. Naughty is slightly disobedient; it is indecent, risqué, bawdy, improper, indelicate. Naughty is a woman pushing back against the norm!

What’s the naughtiest I’ve ever been? Shh! Can you keep a secret? (Of course you can’t – this is the ubiquitous internet after all!)

Nice

What is Nice? Me, I’ve always been nice. Too nice. Too good. Did what she was told. Didn’t make waves. Behaved herself. Good daughter. Good student. Good wife. Good enough (for everyone but me)!

Then I discovered the etymology of the word: nice.

Nice derives from the Latin nescius ‎(“ignorant, not knowing”); from nescire ‎(“to know not, to be ignorant of”), from ne ‎(“not”) + scire ‎(“to know”).

To be nice I had to choose to be ignorant of many things. I had to be compliant. I had to be quiet.

I choose no longer to be nice out of ignorance.

I choose, in spite of Santa’s list, to be at turns both naughty and nice and to always be aware of why I am choosing to be either.

I am nice. I am naughty. Sorry Santa – your lists are passe anyway!

When you’re a girl, you have to be everything, You have to be dope at what you do, but you have to be super sweet, and you have to be sexy, and you have to be this and you have to be that and you have to be nice, and you have to – it’s like, I can’t be all of those things at once. I’m a human being. ~Nicki Minaj

I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do – that was one of my favorite things about it, and when I first did it, I felt very perverse.  ~Diane Arbus

The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.  ~George Carlin

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Buying My Own Toys

December 13, 2015 at 8:15 am (Fun) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’ve written before about the reality and consequences of buying my own toys.

How once I had bought myself the Thumbelina doll I had so desperately yearned for at seven and what happened to her.

I’ve written about the reality of being poor during the holiday season.

I don’t remember making Christmas lists or visiting Santa to ask for what I wanted. We were poor. I knew we were poor and I understood I was to be grateful for what I got no matter what it was. I remember wanting a Thumbelina doll so bad and never getting one.

I’ve always been poor. I’ve never made more than $3,000 a month (not poor for a year or two) and I’ve lived on less than $7,000 a year (poorish). I say poorish because I’ve always had adequate food & shelter. What I’ve wanted for is the extras like raspberries in January or the latest fad toy.

So, when I can I indulge myself in silly things as inexpensively as possible.

Troll plus Frogs

Like this troll. Growing up, in the 1960s, I yearned for a troll doll or a million like my friend Laura had. I loved their long, wild, vividly coloured hair and cute little physique! Laura also had a troll castle or at least I remember it as being a castle but according to the ubiquitous internet there is no such thing! My memory is not wrong ever (LOL)!

We spent many an afternoon upstairs in the cop shop (her dad was our small town police officer) playing with her naked troll dolls. I don’t remember her troll dolls having clothes or belly jewels. Anyway, everyone knows naked dolls are best!

I just remember how badly I wanted one. And now I have one. She lives in the kitchen keeping watch with her two frog friends beside her. I got her and the frogs for free. They were some of the lost and unclaimed tchotchkes that somehow ended up in the high school library when I worked there. Teenagers carry around the strangest things! At the end of the year anything unclaimed was repurposed. Thus, I acquired a troll doll with not too weird blonde hair and a trio of frogs, one legless – poor thing. Adults collect the strangest things!

WW1

I also have some Wonder Woman stuff. She’s my favourite Super Hero! She’s strong and independent just like me! She belongs to a community of like-minded women. She’s been around for a very long time. She’s a hero after my own heart.

WW2

The doll was acquired in 2004 when I was old. Way too old for Barbie dolls. I paid around $25.00 for her. She was part of a trio that also included Batgirl and Supergirl. Looking back, I should have bought all three.

I’m not the only women who yearns for Super Heroine figurines as the new 2016 collection implies.

Wonder Woman is guarded by Mama elephant and I’ve never used the Wonder Woman pen and pencil set.

Collection

I’ve bought toys for myself for over thirty years now. The crystal unicorn was a gift to myself when I was still married. The MASH jeep invokes feeling of nostalgia for a 1970s TV show that was fun and provocative. Cawper, the poppet, is recent and makes me smile.

The Lego warrior I spent way too much money on. She was one of the mini figures in the series that included the librarian. I wanted the librarian so badly that I spent over $100.00 on buying the series mini figures. I never got the librarian but discovered I liked the warrior woman almost as much. She is guarding the baby elephant in the photo above!

Gumby_Pokey

Ah, nostalgia. It is the reason for most of my toy purchases. Like this Gumby and Pokey that brings back warm memories of sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons and having fun. Everything old is new again. My parents told me this once or twice. I didn’t believe them then. I didn’t believe that history repeats itself. The older I get the more I see the truth in this statement.

Rey_StarWars

Here is the latest toy I bought myself. Rey, from the new Star Wars movie. She cost under $20.00 and I bought her partly because I never owned a Leia doll. I was a teenager when the first Star Wars movie was released and was not buying toys for myself then.

Star Wars then!

Star Wars now!

Star wars Forever?

I leave you with a chocolate death star (Lindt really missed the mark here; this could have been a marketing bonanza).

Chocolate Death Star

Not matter how poor I get I will keep buying myself toys that make me smile.

 

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How Long?

December 6, 2015 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Lifetimes have passed since.

The length of a generation.

It’s been a life time – babies who were born that year are now young women as they were. They were women who never got to fulfill their destiny.

A Mother’s Grief.

A mother who will never hug her daughter’s daughter to her breast.

[We stand] crying before the coffins of strangers,
offering roses and tiger lilies to young women [we will] never know.

“O Lord, how long?” O Lord, how long?” cry those standing at a prayer vigil on another December day.

Family Bear

Je me souviens … Geneviève Bergeron, 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, 31; Maryse Laganière, 25; Maryse Leclair, 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, 27; Sonia Pelletier, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; Annie St-Arneault, 23; Annie Turcotte, 21.

My previous words of remembrance are here.

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