sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

December 27, 2013

that’s a wrap, loved ones, and boxing day
posted by soe 2:19 am

Merry Christmas! I hope that those of you who celebrate had a joyous celebration and that those of you who don’t had a joyous day. I think we can all agree a little more joy in the world can’t be a bad thing.

In keeping with that, here is my list of three beautiful things from my past week:

1. Rudi assists me in wrapping the family presents, so I am done far earlier than usual and don’t have to finish after we’ve all headed to bed.

2. It is nice to spend the day seeing and hearing from family, whether those we are joined with by blood, by circumstance, or by choice.

3. No matter how enjoyable Christmas is, the lead-in has been a bit stressful and sleep-deprived for all of us (at least in this house). We mark the day after the holiday by sleeping late, reading, taking naps in front of the fire, eating cookies, and generally resting.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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December 20, 2013

virtual advent tour: merry tubachristmas!
posted by soe 4:24 am

Virtual Advent Tour logoWelcome visitors, both new and old! Today is my day to participate in the Virtual Advent Tour.

After you finish here, please make sure you check out today’s other featured blogger, Maria.

For the last four years, Rudi and I have attended the Merry TubaChristmas concert at the Kennedy Center’s free Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C. It is exactly what it sounds like — a carol concert performed by tubas, sousaphones, and euphoniums.

One of the impressive things about this concert is that these aren’t musicians who play together normally. They come, singly or in groups, together at 3 p.m. on the afternoon of the concert and then, three hours later, they’re on stage performing as one.

This year’s concert, D.C.’s 40th, was the biggest one yet, with nearly 400 musicians in attendance ranging in age from 8 to 89. It was conducted by Colonel Timothy J. Holton, of the U.S. Army Field Band, and emceed by David Bragunier, the principal tuba of the National Symphony Orchestra.

This is not the only tuba Christmas concert. In fact, they occur in 280 cities nationwide. I’d suggest you see if there’s one close by. The first one was held in 1974 on the ice rink at New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza.

The Kennedy Center is very generous in that they record fully most of their free shows. They don’t enable embedding, though, so if you want to be see the concert, click over here.

Thanks to the tour’s organizers, Marg and Kailana, for all their hard work. I’ve enjoyed for the past five Christmas seasons, when I’ve reviewed a Christmassy book, shared a song, a weird Canadian cartoon of the ’70s, and a cookie recipe, offered insight into making a Christmas mix, and took you along on for a pictorial tour of D.C.’s Christmas scene (including the first year we attended this tuba concert).

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December 19, 2013

patience, mutual admiration, and holiday baking
posted by soe 11:41 pm

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. I happen to have our best camera with me as I am walking home from the concert on Wednesday and discover there is a full moon. I take picture (too blurry) after picture (obscured) after picture (focused on an object in the foreground). Finally, I capture this one:

2. As the train pulls up, I notice the guy in the business suit sitting next to the door because his shirt is a brilliant teal and his tie includes wide stripes of the same color. After I board, he glances down and starts to laugh, gesturing at my neon green, knee-high socks with reindeer on them. “That’s awesome,” he tells me. “It just totally made my day.”

3. We benefit daily from the kitchens of our loved ones at this time of year — spiced nuts wait for me on my desk at work. Rudi brings home a tin of cookies from his coworker. We eat vegan chocolate pudding pie for dessert. Breakfast is Sarah’s cranberry nut bread. And we polish off Mum’s spritz cookies while writing cards during a viewing of White Christmas.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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December 17, 2013

mid-december weekending
posted by soe 10:19 am

I was supposed to write this on Sunday, but didn’t:

The weekend began with John and Nicole and a Baggins and a Smaug. We caught the 3D version of The Hobbit, part 2, and were remarkably pleased with it. The spiders of Mirkwood made me jump and several other 3D effects had me flinching, although I’d be hard-pressed to tell you what they were right now. I liked the addition of Tauriel, the female elf captain, who was not in the book (because female characters didn’t engage in swordfights in the early 20th century, one assumes) and appreciated that Smaug’s voice had been run through some filters so he didn’t sound exactly like Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes. Martin Freeman’s Bilbo did share some inflections with John Watson, though (both characters are frustrated by regularly being talked over by their companions). We mulled over the movie with some pizza and beers (mine was root), before hopping on trains home.

The weekend marked the beginning of Rudi’s winter second job as a ski coach, so we only saw each other during the evenings. I started the Christmas cards and listened to some Christmas music and did some chores around the house, including washing most of the wool socks.

Saturday evening, I had free passes to see G.W.’s Revels, an annual celebration through dance, song, theater, and spoken word of the solstice. I had enjoyed Conn’s annual version of this, Make We Joy, so was hoping for something similar. I was not disappointed, although Lisner Auditorium is no Chapel. This year’s cultural theme was Thrace, so the performances focused on Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, and other countries in that region. We danced during “The Lord of the Dance” and sang a variety of songs with the cast and generally had a blast.

Sunday included a failed attempt at baking (how could I be out of confectionery sugar?) and Megan and Sarah’s annual Christmas cartoon party and reading (Better Nate Than Ever, a fun romp of a middle-grade book for the budding theater geek in your life) and some more card-writing (once I get past “F,” I’m home free, but I’m only up to “D”).

I wrapped up the weekend with an errand-filled early Monday morning, including dropping off our Toys for Tots donations at the local charity bookshop and buying Christmas stamps for all those cards.

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December 12, 2013

party, recuperation, and throw this, please
posted by soe 4:34 am

I lost a week there somehow. I swear I just wrote and then I got up and came back to the computer and we were at Thursday still, but it was a different week’s Thursday. I’m not sure how that happened.

Three beautiful things from the past week:

1. Friends gathered to help us decorate our tree and to make merry. Some brought food. Some brought ornaments. Some brought children to entertain us. One brought a handmade treat for the cats. All brightened our day.

2. Having people over always takes it out of us. We were extremely grateful for a snow day, even if the snow/ice never really materialized here. We slept in, watched a Christmas flick, got the last decorations on the tree, found the Christmas cards (who would have thought I would have put the ones I bought in October where they should go???), and didn’t change out of our pajamas.

3. While visiting a farm, we are greeted by a bored sheepdog, whose charges are all safely closed in a paddock in the front yard. Would we like to play ball? We fling the ratty tennis ball, and he chases, filled with glee.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

December 6, 2013

firetruck, afternoon out, and steampunkish
posted by soe 2:09 am

Somehow, I think these final weeks of the year are going to fly by.

Here are three beautiful things from my past week:

1. A village fire department uses their ladder truck to string lights on the pine tree out front.

2. Karen’s and my traditional afternoon visit is accompanied by Marshall and Livia. We eat breakfast for lunch and stroll along the river walk. We kick nuts on the path, tickle each other with the long river grasses, draw with sticks, and bang on a new hollow sculpture and the metal benches along the way.

3. Boots I ordered during a really good sale arrive. I feel capable of piloting a dirigible in them if the need arises. (Why, oh why, does the need never arise?)

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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