Sunday, December 6, 2009

Carolina Ballet's Nutcracker and old friends

I am now over the long grueling drive to Denton, TX and back in the Penske rental truck for Susan's art installation, and I'm almost ready for another road trip. The next one will occur after Christmas when Susan, Mathias and I will visit Slippery Rock for News Years. I wish I could say that Alex will join us, but unless something drastic happens (like an apology to his mom for past ill deeds), it will just be us three. We did see him after Carolina Ballet's Nutcracker Thanksgiving Weekend. The conversation was pleasant and almost lengthy; however it is quite evident that he is not ready or does not want to right the wrongs that have occurred in the past. Enough said on this.

This performance of the Nutcracker will probably be the only one we'll see this year. For those who do not know Carolina Ballet, they are a civic company whose performances are composed primarily of students and very few professionals. Because of renovations to the Town Theater, their performance was on the larger Koger Center stage. I wish they could always perform here, but due to cost constraints it is impossible. Alex appeared in his 8Th Nutcracker and is generally cast as Mother Ginger. This year he was only a party gentleman and rode the Rat King onto the stage on a bicycle. He looked handsome on stage (as usual). The production, for a civic ballet, was quite good, with only the Snow King, Head Spanish male, and Cavalier Prince and Princess danced by professional or former professional dancers. I will fight the temptation to review the ballet and just say that Susan and I really enjoyed it. For professional productions it is hard to find a better one than Birmingham Royal Ballet in England, and this is the first one I've missed since Mathias joined the company.

During Thanksgiving week a received a video e-mail from my very old friend Robert Owen, who now lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and "three legged" cat. We grew up together in Norfolk, graduated from Norview High in 1973, and spent a lot of time together during our DeMolay years. About 4 years ago when Mathias was still at The Kirov Academy of Ballet (his senior year), I received a very unexpected visit from Robert on New Years Eve. He and his wife were returning to Jacksonville and decided to drop over for a visit. Susan and I have not heard from him in over 25 years and we had a nice visit. In his video he showed several pictures of both of us in typically wild 70's style tuxes which made me howl with laughter. I promised Mathias that I would save the video so he could get a good laugh too. I e-mailed him back and invited him for a visit the next time he is in Columbia.

I also called another old friend and former DeMolay member, Reid Howard, on Thanksgiving. He had e-mailed me when I was visiting Mathias in England in September and I finally sat down and called. He was surfing the net and found my blog (yea someone actually read me!) and sent me a e-mail. Reid was in our wedding and I have not seen him in almost 20 years!! He actually lives in Northern Va. but moved in 1994 and I never attempted to find his new address. I incorrectly assumed he moved out of the area. We had a nice chat, and Susan and I plan to visit the next time we go to DC (which I thought was going to be this past Thursday, but we had to cancel our trip... too many things going on here.

Finally, I sat down and wrote to my old buddy and best man Ron Rill and his family that weekend. I have owed them a e-mail for at least a year or more. I have not seen Ron or Teresa since December, 1996, the last time The Ohio State University went to the Rose Bowl. We paid them a visit before Susan, me and the kids flew to LA out of Columbus for $110 per person!! Boy do I wish I could find more travel bargains like that today (thank you Anna at Lenz Travel Service). One of these days I will venture back to Columbus and OSU. This will be the first Rose Bowl Game involving Ohio State that we will not attend since 1977.

In conclusion I have attached some pictures that I took during our trip to Oregon. Susan wrote a great post on out trip on the family blog. Check it out here.

This is a view at Umpqua Dunes. You can rent ATV's and drive all over these dunes.

Here is a picture of Susan standing on the Jetty at Winchester Bay (click to enlarge)

One of many pictures I took on the John Dellenback Dune Trail at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

A view of Crater Lake from the Rim Center (click to enlarge)