Category Archives: ancestry

Mystery about a Sister

Standard

Be prepared to read about a woman’s story, one which may or may

not have been relevant and meaningful to the musical world. I feel

there is a true basis and possibility that she made a big difference in

how her famous brother became who he was. I have to admit, I was

on my  own personal “movie fest” over the weekend. Originally I was

thinking, I would just post some of my favorites and give short film

critiques.

 

Somehow, this evolved into something ‘bigger’ than I expected. It

was time-consuming and yet, I felt like a private investigator with

her mind open and ready for understanding and analyzing the facts.

I looked up, using different sources, to find out more about this

fascinating woman.

 

Now that I may, or may not, have your attention, I will tell you the

riveting movie that led to my research.

 

MOVIE REVIEW:

“Mozart’s Sister,” a French film which needs you to read the sub-titles.

 

In the movie,  which came out in 2011, Rene Feret is the director

and a young actress who is his daughter, Marie Feret, plays the

sister to her character’s famous younger brother. Historical details

that were  discerned through research shall follow this summary of

this fine movie.

 

First, here are three splendid comments from famous reviewers,

starting with one who’s deceased.  Roger Ebert, “Chicago Sun-Times,”

was always one of my favorite reviewers. He is such a trustworthy

man to recommend movies.

(Of course, many of you will recognize his name and the television

show which I used to enjoy- “Siskel and Ebert at the Movies.”)

 

Here is what Roger Ebert said of, “Mozart’s Sister:”

“Marie Feret is luminous.” (in this role.)

 

David Noh, “Film Journey” says:

“A triumph!”

 

Ronnie Scheib, “Variety” Magazine:

“A treat for classical music lovers and cinephiles alike.”

 

What was a turning point in this movie which motivated me to

investigate and research?

What happened to make me seek the truth?

 

When Leopold Mozart, father of Maria Anna (also referred to as

Marianne and affectionately known as, “Nannerl”) tells his only

daughter when she is interested in writing musical compositions,

“Harmony and counterpoint are not understood by women.”

 

Of course, this caused me to say indignantly to my television screen

which was innocently displaying the film,

“That’s outrageous!”

 

Big sister, “Nannerl,” is helpful to toddler brother, “Wolfie,” and

helps him practice his keyboard lessons on a harpsichord. This

baroque instrument is lovely sounding. The scales and other early

beginning lessons are closely supervised by their father.

 

At age 5 or 6, “Wolfie” is paraded in front of wealthy families and

is also given an audience with royalty. He is a cute boy and shows

great potential and musical aptitude. The film shows Wolfgang

using creative interpretation of the music and dramatic arm

flourishes. He was supposedly beginning to write his own musical

compositions at age 4 or 5.

 

In the beginning of the movie,  their coach’s wheel breaks after

going over a rut in the country road. It is late and the Mozart family

stays in a nearby nunnery. It is interesting to note that there are

two sisters living there. Their story emphasizes the difference in

the way male and female genders were treated in this period of time.

The two girls have been shuffled and taken away from the palace,

being raised by nuns.

 

At one point, there is a name mentioned of the two girls’ brother,

who is being raised to be a ‘Royal.’ The part that Maria Anna plays,

and is asked to carry out a charade, is to transport a letter to their

brother, if the Mozart family should be ever happen to appear at

Court. Anna Maria treasures this new friendship and promises to

keep the letter safe and take it to their estranged brother.

 

This movie would engage someone who has been enjoying the inner

workings of the staff and upper class levels or tiers of British society

on the PBS show, “Downton Abbey.” Although this is a whole other

period of time, there are still the ideas of class structure and family

expectations being expressed. Definitely, it is an eye-opener in both

the film about the late 1700’s and the television series of the 1900’s.

Traditions and historical details about clothing, customs and roles

women and men played also are featured in both of these storylines.

 

At the end of the film, there is not much said about Nannerl’s  being

anything but helpful to her brother.  There are no illusions that she

may have helped Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart compose his greatest

works.

 

In the movie’s middle,  there is a nice romantic interlude, where

Maria Anna disguises herself as a boy, in a white-haired wig, to give

the hand written letter to the young Monarch from his sister. They

use the young man’s title in the film as ‘Louis XV.’ This story becomes

a very sweet part of the movie. I will not tell you about how it unfolds,

hoping you will someday pursue viewing this one. I will say it depicts

Nannerl’s character as having spunk, showing independence and also,

her romantic side.

 

Before the credits roll, there are a few sparse details given. The written

lettering after the movie ends mentions Maria Anna helped to write

some of her own sonatas as a young woman. It mentions she helped

Wolfgang transcribe his first writings, since he scribbled them. There

is a subtle undertone of the possibility that she was his ‘muse.’  As his

sister, she may have written (created) some of his early works.

 

The movie has places that explain traditional upbringing of “fine young

ladies.” The women are encouraged to wait on men, not to further their

education. Maria Anna tries to ‘rock the establishment.’ Her mother has

disappointment and her father shows anger for her independent streak.

She doesn’t wish to follow the social order of the period. I was rooting

for her, all the way!

 

RESEARCH:

If you enjoy history and reading about a famous person’s family,

you may enjoy this part of the post. . .

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived from January 1756 until December,

1791. There is confusion about why he died at such an early age of 35.

 

He was the son of a musician and teacher of music, Leopold Mozart.

His mother was named Anna. He was born in Salzburg, which later

became part of, or known as,  Austria. Wolgang’s father and mother

had seven children, only two that lived beyond infancy. The oldest

living child was a daughter named Maria Anna, nicknamed, “Nannerl.”

There were four years between the two children, sister and brother.

 

When Wolfgang was 3 years old, his sister was learning her lessons,

which included language, music and reading. She was practicing

with her brother close by her side. Later, she would be by his side,

while he was the one leading the lessons. This relationship lasted

probably all of their childhood. “Wolfie” was her little shadow,

trying to do everything she did.

 

There is a notebook that Leopold made for Maria Anna, which is

known as “Nannerl’s Notenbuch” or also written as, “Notenbuch

fur Nannerl.” In English, this was “Nannerl’s Music Book.” This

amazing composition book demonstrated the first lessons that

Leopold gave to her, along with her brother. It consists of only

(originally) 48 pages, now only 36 pages remain.  This book has

her father’s exercises for her practicing beginner harpsichord

pieces. This also included anonymous minuets and some of her

father’s  original  works.  Two composers,  Carl P. E. Bach and

George C. Wagenseil, had their pieces transcribed as passages

in this musical exercise book.

 

In 1982, a man (just a coincidence) named Wolfgang Plath

studied the handwriting within the Notebook and attributed

the variety to consist of five different handwriting samples

or sources. There are evidences of the collaboration between

Leopold, the father, and his son, “Wolfie.”

 

Leopold took his family touring around countries and the cities

of Vienna, Austria and Paris, France. Maria Anna Mozart was

born in 1751 and lived 78 years, until 1829. When she became a

young lady, it was considered inappropriate for her to continue

to publicly play the harpsichord, piano or sing. Up until she was

18, Maria was part of her musical touring family. A biographer

considered her to be a great singer and an,

“Excellent harpsichord player and fortepiano player.”

 

Sadly, there is no mention about Nannerl being a conduit, or

letter transporter, between the sisters raised in a nunnery and a

member of Louis XV’s “Court” or “Royalty.”  This was the main

part of the plot I enjoyed in the movie I reviewed earlier.

 

At age 18, Maria Anna went home to Salzburg with her mother,

to teach musical lessons and stay at home. The following reason

was mentioned in one source,

“This was due to her being of marriageable age.”

 

Wolfgang and his father both wrote letters to Maria Anna which

some have been saved. Wolfgang during the 1770’s, was touring

in Italy and mentioned Nannerl’s writing musical compositions

and Wolfgang goes so far as to ‘praise her musical works.’

 

There are no references in her multiple letters from her father

to any of her own musical compositions in his correspondence.

 

An interesting note (and slightly salacious fact) is mentioned

in some of the biographers’ notes about Maria Anna’s and

Wolfgang’s close, intimate relationship. When they were young,

they developed a “secret language” and they had an “imaginary

kingdom.” They pretended they were married and carried out

their positions while playing together, as “Queen” and “King.”

 

There are a few indications and there is evidence of Wolfgang’s

using sexual wordplay which he used in other letters to his

lovers or girlfriends. This can be found also in the words he

chose and were included in his writing to his sister. One

historian considers this to be a ‘strange relationship’ for a

sister and a brother.

 

As an aside, my two brothers and I would play ‘house’ but

we would not have myself be the “mother” and one of my

brothers be the “father.” We would instead play that one of

the brothers was the “father” and other brother and I were

his “children.” Like the old television show, “Family Affair,”

where the uncle has “Buffy” and twins “Cissy” and “Jody.”

(I used to love this show, with Sebastian Cabot playing the

butler/nanny and Brian Keith playing the bachelor uncle.

did you know it ran from 1966 until 1971?) Or I would play

the ‘mother’ role and the brothers were my ‘kids.’ We usually

had company or neighbors over.  Once in awhile, they would

‘marry’ one of my girlfriends, or once in awhile, I would ‘marry’

one of their guy friends. I mention this to confirm that I would

also think it strange that the siblings played ‘Queen and King’

together over a Kingdom.

 

A sad note about Maria Anna’s independence shown in the

movie, “Mozart’s Sister.” This is not to be found anywhere in

any biographies or any letters. She is shown to be subservient

to her father, allowing him to forbid her to marry a man named,

“Franz d’Ippold.”  They were both young, he was a Captain and

a private tutor. When he proposed, there is an implication she

would have liked to say, “Yes.”  There is a letter in the family’s

collection where her brother, Wolfgang, tried to persuade her to

stand up to her father. Ultimately, Maria Anna was ‘forced’ to

turn down Captain Franz d’Ippold’s proposal.

 

Years went by, Maria Anna was allowed to marry at age 32, when

asked by a man named Johann Baptist Franzvan Berchtold  “un

Sonnenburg.” They were  married in 1783.  Listen to the “fun” life

Maria Anna participated in:  She became the wife of a widower

with five children she helped to raise. She had three more of her

own children with Johann. When she had her first born son,

she named him Leopold. Her father insisted on taking the her

only son to raise him in Salzburg at his home. The biography

doesn’t mention her mother’s role in this drama. From 1785

until he died in 1787, Leopold Sr. wrote letters and in a journal

telling about his toilet training Jr. and teaching him how to talk.

 

There was no mention of the boy’s illness nor a reason why he

should not have been raised as a baby until age 2 by his own

mother.  There is some speculation for her father’s thinking he

would raise another musical prodigy. Since he felt he was the

reason Wolfgang A. Mozart turned out the way he did.

 

After all, Leopold Mozart, Sr. did write and publish a violin

music textbook.

 

SUMMARY:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was known for his classical

musical compositions, which included over 600 works.

They include symphonies, concertos, operas and choral

music.

 

Beethoven, while young, lived in the shadow of Mozart.

During his early years composing his own original music,

he was constantly compared to Mozart’s body of work.

 

Composer, Joseph Hayden said of Mozart’s legacy:

“Posterity will not see such a talent in another 100 years.”

 

Wolfgang A. Mozart married Constanze and had two sons.

He died at the early age of 35 years old.

His magnificent “Requiem” was never completed.

His music is still revered and considered the best in classical

music.

 

Maria Anna was never given any credit (that I could find out

about) for her influence on her brother’s music nor were any

of her musical compositions published. The book, “Nannerl’s

Notenbuch” is not considered to be anything but her lesson

book to practice and play music using the hand written

exercises.

 

I need to see the movie, “Amadeus,”  (again) to see if there

are any musical or notable references to his sister. If you

have a good memory or recently seen this, let me know in

the comments whether there is mention of Anna Maria

Mozart please.

 

I strongly recommend, “Mozart’s Sister” as a film to savor

and enjoy, while wishing the story line really happened.

 

Truthfully, being an older sister myself, how could “Nannerl”

NOT have had an influence upon her little brother, “Wolfie?”

 

Either way you look at this famous musician’s life,

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made a huge impact

on the musical world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roses, roots, and thorns

Standard

The letters in the word, “rose” can be rearranged to spell “Eros.” How appropriate

that one of the most beautiful flowers has the letters who form the Greek “God of

Love.” The Peace rose was named 50 or more years ago. It is a pale yellow-tinged

rose with pink tipped petals.  Thorns can also help you to reach another letter

combination: “sore.” You may be sore from the needle-like thorns or you may be

sore, filled with heartache. While the rose still gives us light and lovely radiance

in its flowering.

 

In the 15th century, Henry VI declared a War of Roses. How sad and upsetting to

label anything that is filled with death and killing, with the word, rose, in its title.

 

In Medieval times, a white rose suspended from the ceiling of a room meant there

would be ‘secrets’ shared or imparted. It designated conversations which must be

totally private. The term, “subrosa,”  means “confidential.”

 

Roses have been found much longer ago than Medieval times. There were drawings

of flowers on cave walls. Particularly, historically discovered on cave walls, was

a five-petaled “rose” drawing found in Crete during the period of 1450 B.C.

 

Traveling even farther back in time, roses have been discovered by archaeologists,

in fossilized form. The rocks have been preserved and photographed have come

from the beginning of Earth’s plant life, possibly the oldest ‘flower’ ever. This is

dating back 30 million years ago. One could almost, truthfully, exclaim that roses

have been around forever.

 

In 76 A.D., the Roman writer named, Pliny, included 30 different remedies and

medicines derived from roses. Roses were used in ancient times for healing wounds,

treating insomnia (rose tea), stomach disorders and “toothaches.” Rose petals also

helped to cover the awful smell of death or illness. By scattering rose petals around

enclosed spaces, you could tolerate the odor of diseases, including the Plague.

 

 

 

In the Talmud, it is written only pink roses were allowed to bloom in Jerusalem.

The city’s name means, “Paradise,” which makes sense the pink roses be there

to fill the air with their aromatic, floral scent. Visually and using senses of all kinds,

to be immersed in Paradise. This is how some gardeners feel in their gardens.

 

The 13th century rose was brought back to Europe, from the Holy Land crusaders.

This is considered “the Old European” traditional rose. Another ‘root’ history of

the rose is it may have come form Italian travelers, from the Gulf of Salerno. The

trail of the rose, also has possibilities with the Roman Emperors cultivating them

after bringing them back from their Middle East travels.

 

The Chinese have incorporated roses in their artistry and have been given credit

for those beautiful “tea roses,” since they have for 1000’s of years compared the

scent to the aroma of the hearty tea leaves.

 

Explorers of the 1800’s, also have been considered ones who brought the first

seedlings of roses from Asia. These explorers brought these to Europe, which

then American settlers brought seeds of all kinds of plants, including seedlings

of roses to our continent. While traveling across the ocean, in 1692, explorers

discovered roses prevented sea-sickness.

 

The belief of the rose as an aphrodisiac is more than just a romantic novel’s

idea. The appearance of this belief goes back centuries using rose hips as

part of a mood enhancer. The rose hips are also known to have Vitamin

C which is considered a natural way to help prevent depression. It is also

considered to be a way to prevent ‘apathy’ and ‘resignation,’ in books of

old folklore and medicinal texts.

 

Marie Antoinette’s good friend, Pierre Joseph-Redoute, was a wonderful painter

and artist, along with being one who enjoyed gardening. One of his famous rose

paintings is hung in one of the French Art museums. The artist is known for his

botanical paintings, which have become made into prints for decorating homes,

along with the Palace. In France, roses are included in 12th century cathedral

stained glass windows.

 

In the story, “Sleeping Beauty,” the rose vines with their thorny protection make

it very difficult for the Prince to wake Beauty from her sleep. The vines grow and

surround the castle while she is deep in slumber.

 

Withering roses mean that love is transitory and love can fade. There are many

ways the flower is used as a metaphor  in books, poetry and stories. Blue roses

come from a gene from a blue petunia injected into a white rose. I think you may

remember in the play, “The Glass Menagerie,” the brother calls the invalid sister,

“Blue Roses,” which indicate the possibility that she has pleurisy.  Australia was

the country given credit for having the clever horticulturalists and scientists who

managed to ‘create’ this blue rose. Symbolism of the rose would take many pages

of writing, along with intensive research.

 

When Carl Jung analyzed a rose depicted in a church stained-glass window with a

magical circle surrounding the rose, he described it in quite mythological terms.

Jung said the rose symbolized,

“Our mortal yearnings for Union with the Cosmos.”

 

Dreamers sometimes are accused of looking through “rose colored glasses,” which at

times, sometimes I prefer them.

 

The expression, “second hand rose,” may have its roots from the days when Henry II’s

mistress (who would have been considered ‘second class’ or less worthy of his time,

since the wife was given preferential treatment) died an early death. Poor Rosamunda.

 

Tough times or parts of our life that are challenging make our lives, “No bed of roses.”

 

“Rosy” cheeks may depict a ‘picture of good health,’ as the children in the Campbell

Soup advertisements display round, rosy cheeks  while they entice us to warm up with

their product.

 

The oldest living rose bush is the size of a tree. This may be found by a cathedral in

Hildesheim, Germany. There is a historic document which provides proof of it dating

back to possibly 815 A.D. It is considered, “The Thousand Year Old Rose Tree.”

The story or legend of the Lower Saxony, Germany tree, is that during WWII, the

bush caught on fire from Allied bombs. The root system was removed, undamaged.

It is still flourishing and flowering in Hildesheim, Germany.

 

From the history of roses through the ages, it seems that they are meant to continue

to grow against all odds. While we are meant to benefit not only from their beauty and

romance, but admire their longevity and endurance. The Peace rose radiates its power

of Hope to us all. The rose holds a special place in our lives and it is amazing to learn

from its very existence.

Roses have flourished from the beginning of time and will continue to do so,

until the Earth stops spinning.

~reocochran 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Raise Your Glass” to Hard Cider!

Standard

I have eclectic drinking tastes, which include some of those malt-flavored

drinks that resemble ‘wine coolers,’ from the seventies. I have an occasional

beer, support Fatheads’ micro brews, since they help my brother’s artistry in

their logo-painted walls. I enjoy wine, savoring the layers of flavor, such as

can be found in Lake Erie wineries. I enjoy the reds like Cabernet Sauvignon,

Merlot and Pink Catawba wine made from Catawba grapes. Recently, though,

I have ‘discovered’ the Cincinnati, Ohio company of Boston Beer Co. which

produces the biggest hard cider in the U.S. I think you will recognize, even if

you are not a hard cider drinker, the name of “Angry Orchard.” Business in

the hand-crafted apple cider area of beverages is booming! From 2007 until

last year’s total sales of hand-crafted hard cider, it went from $200 million

dollar business to a tripled amount of $600 million!

The largest areas producing hard cider can be found in New York, Michigan,

Washington and Oregon. Great locations for apple orchards and to create

this hard cider, you need to be close to where they grow. A man named Peter

Moon, used to have a shop in Columbus Easton Town Center called, “Color

Your World.” He has been working on his own personal recipe for hard cider,

seeing great potential in the Central Ohio area.

Historically speaking, we may consider the American apple pie an icon for

our country, but apple cider made into hard cider came over on the Mayflower,

with those Pilgrims. We can find records of barrels of fermented apple juice

packed along with all the other necessities needed to start a community in

America. This makes sense since apples were readily available to farmers and

the Pilgrims needed to ‘brace’ themselves, so to speak, for a whole different

World! This could be considered America’s first ‘drink’ they toasted safe arrival

here…

To go even farther, this article I found discussing apples being fermented into

hard cider, it is totally possible that the signers of the Declaration of Independence

had pewter goblets of this ‘brewed’ cider.

I am happy to soon ‘ditch’ the Angry Orchard brand of hard apple cider for a new

‘brew’ made by Peter Moon who is calling his cidery, “Mad Moon Craft Cider.” You

know my fascination with the moon? This means it is ‘fate’ that I travel southward

and check out this new place he has. I need to try this!

In a recent Columbus Dispatch article, introducing this new company, it mentions there

is a humble organization and simplicity in the Mad Moon company’s headquarters.

There is a sign hanging by the office,

“Cider for the People.”

It is representative of the company’s signature. These 4 words are a ‘take off’ of a Populist

slogan and sentiments from William Henry Harrison’s 1840 Presidential campaign. W. H.

Harrison was known to be a ‘hard-cider-drinking frontiersman.’ (Sept. 12, 2004 Columbus

Dispatch article.)

When Prohibition came along in 1920. hard cider lost its’ place in the people’s popularity

of beverages to imbide in. There was moonshine and illegal brews, but when Prohibition was

repealed, beers were the most popular drink.

Today’s society is always looking for something ‘new’ to discover and try. There are many of

the population trying homemade beer and apple cider brewing, along with winemaking.

They ‘crave’ unique beverages and as hosts and hostesses, offering a variety of choices.

In Columbus, Ohio we have around 13 beer breweries, some hobbyists and home brewers

are now opening ‘cideries.’ It is just a small beginning, the tip of an iceberg of beverages and

there is an ‘open market’ for this here.

Starting at the ground level, Peter Moon, has 750 gallons of apple juice fermenting in three

of Mad Moon Craft Cider’s 10 large tanks. The labels are still in ‘rough draft’ stage of the

business. I liked the bottle’s design in the photograph accompanying the Dispatch’s article.

Apples need to be originally grown from European seeds, what is considered “old seeds.”

They are stronger flavored apples, with savory and distinct ‘tones’ to their taste. Ohio farmers

find them to not be able to resist fungi and diseases. This seems to be a concern and a ‘work

in progress.’ So far, one of the farms that is selling their apples for hard cider has been able

to recommend the strength of ‘gold rush apples.’ I can relate to this search, when I make my

homemade apple crisp I like the softer apples of Rome, Gala and have tried others, too.

In Licking County, (Ohio), there is a hard cider being sold as, “Legend Valley Cider.”

This company has 50 accounts on their ‘books,’ so far. They await the end of the apple growing

year of crops to start their second year of production.

This is a stretch of my imagination, but I think Benjamin Franklin would have been proud of

the return to apple cider fermentation. It is what Early Americans would have respected. Freedom

to consume and continuing in the independent spirit of free enterprise, too.

So,  “Raise Your Glass” to toast the return of hard cider!

(Thanks to Pink, (2010) song, “Raise Your Glass!”)

 

What are you drinking?

If you don’t like alcoholic beverages, do you like apple cider?

I sure do associate apple cider with Fall or Autumn.

Diverse Television Interests

Standard

When I used to teach preschool, my coworkers encouraged me to

start watching the television show, “American Idol,” in 2002.

I have watched several shows for years, one that just ended

named, “How I Met Your Mother.” I stick with a show, through

‘thick and thin,’ even if they ‘jumped the shark,’ long ago.

Did you know that expression came about due to Fonzy jumping

a shark, on a “Happy Days” episode?

My best Delaware girlfriend and I started our friendship, by

calling each other after the show, “Northern Exposure,” was on.

It had quirky characters and we liked the radio announcer, along

with the different story lines. We were both single, sometimes

without a ‘guy’ in our lives. We have known each other since 1992.

We would talk until one of us admitted we were starting to close

our eyes. This was a comforting way for us to become close friends,

with no subject off limits. Once my children were asleep, I would

sometimes ‘miss’ the ex-husband or boyfriend at the time, and my

friend and I liked the companionship, like a ‘sleepover’ on the

telephone. We lived across town from each other and neither could

visit more than once a week, due to busy lives and schedules.

We now watch two shows on Fridays, during our lunches together,

at her house. She DVR’s “Elementary” and “Dallas.” We both agreed

upon these two shows. We weekly watch other shows, in our own homes,

separately. She and I discuss the character development and the way

the plots are going.

Since she and her husband like, “The Americans,” “Person of Interest,”

“Bones,” and “Rizzoli and Isles,” she watches them with him while I sit

at home, watching them on my own. It keeps us connected, when our lives

may appear to be ‘mundane,’ the shows are always active and engrossing!

My way of enjoying my independent freedom is to engage in ‘channel surfing,’

choosing my favorite to watch and my second favorite at the same time,

to watch while there are commercials.

I also would like to recommend some of my favorite comedies:

I still watch The Middle, Brooklyn 9-1-1, New Girl, The Mindy Project,

Neighbors, Meet the Millers and The Crazy Ones. I like all of these

for different reasons, but mainly they all have zany plots, several

different kinds of characters and make me laugh out loud!

They all remind me of some of my old favorite comedies, like “Cheers,”

“Barney Miller,” “Frasier,” “Seinfeld,” and “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

I have taken to watching some serious shows on Sundays, which include

PBS British shows, “Call the Midwife,” “Mr. Selfridge,” (with the man

from “Entourage,” Jeremy Pivens acting in the lead character’s role),

and when “Downton Abbey” is on, then I watch that one. The wardrobes

and the way the beautiful old style department store, in the show,

“Mr. Selfridge,” captures my interest and fantasies. I like the

“Holmes” show with a modern twist, too. I have also been watching,

the Revolutionary War show, “Turn.” It is very good, try it! I also,

due to being a real fan of Alfred Hitchcock, I watch the ‘prequel’

of “Psycho,” called, “Bates Motel.” In that same gruesome vein, I

watch, “Fargo,” with the excellent Billy Bob Thornton, and a great

supporting cast, too.

To ‘dish’ on American Idol, I will share that I voted this week, for

Alex, Caleb, Jessica and C.J. I am going to post about ‘slurred’

words, and how I am starting to dislike Gena, due to her different

way she approaches words. She did an excellent job of singing the

rock and roll anthem, “Barracuda” but would like her to enunciate

the words. This is just a ‘pet peeve’ of mine.

What shows are you watching?

What are your secret ‘guilty pleasure’ shows? Come on and share,

since I have admitted I still watch “Dallas,” and awhile back,

I mentioned on one of those Award nomination posts, that I like

“Revenge.” I am not shallow, hence my very intelligent shows on

Sundays.

Light Summary of the Olympics’ Closing Ceremony

Standard

As in Olympics’ Closing Ceremonies go, I thought

the country of Russia, did an outstanding job!

The presentations, that were centered on their

heritage and culture, were moving, dynamic and

lovely. I am full of adjectives like “innovative”

and “evocative!”

It was called “A Tribute to the Arts.”

I enjoyed the artistic features of Marc Chagall

as one of the Russian artists.

I almost could not find the spelling of the other

artist who was mentioned, I did not recognize the

name.

It sounded like “Malcheck” or “Malaczech.” Once I

studied the wonderful directory of Russian artists,

I did recognize him to be: Kazimir Malevich. Well,

I was close! (Smile!)

Malevich was an avante garde artist and his paintings

were used for inspiration in the dance performances

and the mural like artwork on the field. He lived from

1878- 1935, as a Polish descendant Russian.

They featured black fish swimming around to form

the classic Olympic circles on the ground, This

glowed like shimmering silver rings. This was

carried out through people moving, carrying fish

fins to create the whole display.

There was some humor in that during the Opening

Ceremony, there was a ‘glitch’ where one of the

circles didn’t light up. I think the inclusion of

this display was to balance out the mistake of

the original ceremony. During this portion of the

Closing Ceremony, they had 62 pianists playing.

The fantastic upside-down village floating above the

field with the bright and lively painted design of

one of Marc Chagall’s pieces was delightful. I have

had some acquaintance with his work, since my parents

usually sent UNICEF cards featuring his designs. His

use of a dove to represent Peace and also, the Holy

Spirit at Christmas, is well known. One of Chagall’s

famous pieces, “I the Village,” shows his child-like

and dreamy artwork. His pieces may bring the observer

to smile, as if it were their own memories of some

imaginary times. We have put together, as a family, a

couple of his pieces into a picture puzzle, over the

years.

Chagall lived from 1887 until 1985. Since he later

moved to France, Chagall is considered a Russian-

French artist.

Someone asked, as a commentator, “Why was the village

upside down?” the answer was seemingly that Chagall

viewed the world as ‘upside down.’

I enjoyed the bold colors, dramatic dancing people

who wore wings, looking like Chagall’s doves or birds.

The ethnic, country Russian music was reminiscent of

the cultural music featured in “Fiddler on the Roof.”

This musical was set in Tsarist Russia, 1905.

There was a dramatic tribute to the Opera and this

utilized the Bolshoi and Kirov ballet dancers. This

was a beautiful exhibition of talent and skill.

There were floating dancers and gymnasts, similar

in the Cirque du Soleil type performances.

I was left with the impression of looking at Life

from a different lens. I am sure that this positive

impression, promoted by the Russian government, was

meant as propaganda.

The image of ‘Freedom of Expression,’ through their

“Tribute to the Arts,” shown during the 2014 Olympics

Closing Ceremonies in Sochi, Russia was simply ironic.

Expressions and Vocabulary

Standard

There are a few words that are ‘thrown around’ this time of year that

I was not completely sure of and wanted to know more about them. I hope

you will put up with another post about Christmas! I just love this time

of year and all the festivities and wonder!

These are words or phrases that I thought I knew but ‘missed the mark’

and learned more about the complete definitions and explanations.

1.) Did you know in the original “Twelve Days of Christmas” that the

Four _________ Birds were not “Calling Birds?” The original English

version calls these birds, “colly birds!” In 1780, this song was

included in a book, entitled, “Mirth without Mischief.” The birds

can be interchangeable in their names. So, we now sing the more

common and the other name is long out of practice.

2.) wassail- noun. 1. An early English toast to someone’s health.

2. A liquor made of ale or wine, spices and often baked apples

served in a large punch bowl, usually at Christmas. 3. Riotous

drinking.

I wondered why people could go “wassailing” when it was all about

toasting, drinking and having a riot of a celebration? The word

eventually meant to go caroling.

3.) When they say, “We will bring some ‘figgy pudding’ I wondered

what this entailed, also.

By using the definition of “fig” you will find the word “trifle”

within it. A trifle can be a cake or treat…

fig- noun. 1. Usually edible oblong or pear-shaped fruit of a tree

of the mulberry family. Also: A tree bearing figs. 2. Trifle.

(Cake layered dessert.) I also could see that when you say, “I don’t

give a fig about it!” that is a trifle amount. So, there!

4.) myrrh- noun. A brown, slightly bitter aromatic gum resin obtained

from African and Arabian trees and used especially in perfumes or

formerly, in incense. (This is one of the Gifts of the Magi, the

Three Wise Men, who by the way, are not really numerated as “three”

in the Bible!)

5.) I know this is silly but I wondered if people ‘boxed’ on Boxing

Day, this is celebrated in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada

on December 26th! I mean I wrote it on my December calendar but did

not know the meaning of “Boxing Day!” It is a postal holiday that

is observed as a ‘legal holiday’ in parts of the British Commonwealth,

coming from a historical point of view, when they would give the

postmen Christmas boxes for their service as gifts.

6.) In ancient England, kisses were given under the mistletoe as a

ceremonial act of ending grievances! I looked up the definition

and this is not included in my Brittanica-Webster Dictionary!

mistletoe- noun. A green plant with yellowish flowers and waxy,

white berries that grows on the branches and trunks of trees.

In another book, I found out that the word “toe = twig.”

Sprigs over doors were symbolizing Peace to guests; not exactly

the romantic way that we picture it in today’s customs!

7.) Someone at work asked me to look up “partridge” and explain

why this is used as the First day of Christmas. I could not find

why it is the type of bird used, but here is the definition that

did have a pleasant, sweet looking drawing accompanied with it.

partridge- noun. Any of several stout-bodied Old World game birds

related to the common domestic fowl. In North America, a similar

looking bird is called the ‘bob-white’ or ruffed grouse.

8.) turtledove- noun. Any of several small wild pigeons especially

of an Old World genus, noted for cooing.

Both the partridge and turtledove are acknowledged as “Old World”

birds, so interesting to me!

9.) courser- noun. A swift or spirited horse.

No mention of a reindeer but this was the question that my 9 year

old grandson asked, “What are coursers?” while I was reading the

“Twas the Night Before Christmas” book.

10.) frankincense- noun. A fragrant gum resin from African or Arabian

trees that is burned as incense.

This definition sounds familiar, hmmm! the same as “myrrh” in most of

the words chosen to define these.

Last but not numbered, I learned a fascinating tradition about the

Yule Log:

Once this was a popular tradition, but rarely continued among the

‘regular’ people these days. It originated in medieval days, when

Yule logs were chosen on a specific date: February 2nd. This log

would be held in a location until New Year’s Eve of that same year.

So, once the log was chosen, it was protected and kept in a special

place of honor. It was dried outside from winter, through all the

seasons, until December 31st. This was a family custom that has

gone by the wayside. I think it would be a wonderful one to start

again, because it has a purpose! It becomes a forgiving force of

nature!

Here is how it goes… A piece of this log becomes the way to light

the “yule fire.” The directions say to use this piece of the saved

log as a “foundation of the Yule fire.” Nowadays, to continue this

or renew this meaning as a family tradition, it would include any

log could be used along with decorating it with ribbons or using

chemicals to produce colored flames.

Burning this to “ash” all the bad feeling or hard times of the

past year away. This previous year could also be considered by

writing notes on pieces of paper, folding them, with the content

meant to be the bad feelings, illnesses or hard times family

members experienced. By writing them, then folding them up

and throwing them upon the fire, any problems, quarrels or

grudges may be forgotten.

In France, the bakers in bakeries make delicious cakes that

are called, buche de Noel.” The cakes are in the shape of a

Yule log. Knowing how I love French pastries, I am sure this

would be scrumptious! I would like to have this on New Year’s

Day!

The Beauty of Languages

Standard

baklava (Greece layered, nut laced with honey dessert)

escargots (French for snails)

falafel (Arab specialty)

tacos, tamales (Mexican, Spanish)

sushi (Japanese raw food)

scones (British or Scottish quick bread or cake)

croissants (French pastry)

pizzelles (Italian cookies spiced with anise)

gefilte fish (Jewish fish)

Origins in different countries…

My name is Robin Elizabeth. When I was going to middle school

Spanish class, we had to choose the closest name to our own in

a list of Spanish names. I used “Roberta” for those three years,

sorry if this is your name (I have a lovely nice British girlfriend

with this name!) But I was ready for a change in high school! I

marched up to Mr. Donaldson’s desk  saying, “Senor Donaldson,

por favor, may I change my name to my middle name? It would

become ‘Isabella!'”

Well, how did this subject come up? One of Mom’s very nicest

neighbors has the first name of Isabel. I told her when I met her

that in Spanish that is “Isabella” and if it were looked up in a

translation dictionary for theEnglish version, it would be

Elizabeth. Did she know Elizabeth was a special, unfortunately

‘barren’ woman in the Bible, who is visited by an angel who

fortells that she will “bear fruit” and becomes the mother of

John the Baptist?

We talked about how foreign languages are the originators

of our English language and that our everyday vocabulary

includes a lot of foreign words or “roots” from foreign

countries. We are indeed a “melting pot” of languages,

so many different reasons why we use the words we do!

I wrote a few of the international foods that I would not

have known about nor tasted them, unless someone had

introduced them to me.

Isabel was fascinated and asked if I knew of any other “roots”

of words or where they came from? I told her the beautiful word,

“pavilion” comes from the French word pappillon, which is a

butterfly. If you notice large pavilions look a little like wings that

are spread downward.

My Grandmother Paula Hilmida Mattson used only a few German

words sprinkled into her language, but she definitely could cook

the special pastries of her country. (kuchen, spaetzle, and the

lovely combination of Spritz cookies and Pfeffernusse.

My Grandfather Walter William Mattson spoke very clear English, he

learned it quickly once he immigrated here from Sweden. Both my

mother’s parents came over as teenagers and met on a street corner

in New York City. That love story is in one of my older posts…

I think you probably recognize most foods that are from other countries.

I used to like international festivals, more so than individual ones. They

had such a “smorgasbord” of delicacies to choose from, the delicious

scents and smells intermingling as they wafted through the air.

Something new to me, recently, was an introduction to the exotic world

of bubble teas! Also known as “pearl milk tea” or “boba milk tea.” This

tea-based drink was invented in tea shops in Taichung, Taiwan in the

eighties! Wow! Took me long enough to discover their delicious and

chewy tapioca pearls and sweetly rich teas!

What have you learned recently about your heritage, any foreign foods

that you have recently been introduced to or any that are passed down

for generations? Also, are there any interesting stories attached to taking

a foreign language? Thanks for reading and hope to read about your

different beautiful languages or unique delicacies!

I