Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Last Two Weeks: In which we hear opera, paint faces, and become pet owners

It has been a busy string of weeks.  The more eventful a period of time, the less likely I am to sit down and  blog about it. 

Highlights of the past two weeks included a solo trip to Madison, CT, to watch my friend perform in a production of Solome. The performance was in a converted barn—the most intimate venue for an Opera that you can imagine.   The acting and musicianship were splendid.   It is a gripping opera! The modern interpretation and framing were not splendid—confusing and in poor taste—but could do little to detract from the overall experience.  Indeed, for a curmudgeon such as myself, the only thing more enjoyable than seeing a truly wonderful performance is to see a strong performance that has some flaw that offers the opportunity to nitpick.  And nitpick we did!  My friend and I went to a diner after the show and spent a couple hours “unpacking” the production over sweet potato fries.

 The following day was the spring fair at Louisa’s school.  I volunteered to paint faces.  Here are my practice faces from the day before. 

And here are a few from the day of the fair.

Then came the baptism of our little twin nephews, Stephen and Michael.  Donnie and I became Michael’s godparents. The two boys entered the Church with great aplomb and cuteness.  It was a beautiful day, and it was lovely day and was wonderful to see the extended family.   

From the baptism party, Donnie departed on a week-long trip to Ohio. During his absence, we introduced this little fellow to our household.

This is Seaweed.  Seaweed was a birthday present for Maria—he—or rather the accoutrement that sustain him, were Maria’s big present this year.  This was a classic case of gift-escalation.  I went to Petco with the vague idea of buying a small tank—or possibly just a bowl—and surveilling the fish choices so that I could offer Maria a curated set of options.   In the process, I learned that fish ownership is more complicated than I realized.   Wanting to stave off premature lessons on mortality and provide the room for additional fish, I decided to get a whole aquarium set-up.  The very knowledgable girl at the store advised that we go with bettas.  Betta fish have a special organ that allows them to breath atmospheric air.  It makes them able to survive in small containers.  They are also quite lovely.  But all their lovely fins are like banners of war—they will fight each other for territory, so you have to be careful about adding additional fish.

Now we have our handsome Seaweed, living in a spacious 5 gallon tank with two garishly colored silk plants.  The aquarium gravel that we thought would be a subdued dark blue glows cobalt under the aquarium lights.  

As much as I warned myself and the girls not to get too attached, it is easy to be fond of Seaweed.  I'm convinced that Maria found the best fish in the store.  He seems unusually responsive and alert for a fish—and oddly sympathetic.  Indeed, Maria told her father the other day, “Seaweed understand all my feelings.”  All of us enjoy watching him curve through the water, his veil-fins trailing.  He blends in with the purple and red plants.  Every viewing becomes a game of “hunt for Seaweed.”   Pippa thanks God for “Seaweed Fish” practically every night, and has given the check-out woman at Aldi’s the full run down.  

This past weekend, the older girls spent a day and  night with Meme and Grandpa.  They went to the Children’s Caberet Theatre and saw The Princess and the Pea.   After meeting up with Grandpa for the handoff in Cromwell, Pippa and I took advantage of being so far to the West, and visited Kidcity.  Kidcity is my favorite children's attraction. It is an artfully designed interactive play experience.  During this visit, Pippa and I spent all our time at the Toddler Seacaves—an area specially designed for the under three set.  I love that the wall murals feature an infant mermaid, as well as a pregnant mermaid, and a nursing mermaid.  Though fantastic, it is still a truthful celebration of family life. 

Nursing mermaid

Baby mermaid, sucking on fins

Mother mermaid, talking on shell-phone with three kids

Maria’s birthday party was Sunday afternoon.  It was understandably subdued.  The kids were tired, and the number of children was small—at Maria’s behest, we had only three kids over for the party.   Still, we had fun romping in the backyard, playing with hoola hoops and bean bags.  Our friend David demonstrated how to lasso a stump.  Donnie and I pulled out our musical instruments.  Poor Louisa was a bit moody.  She finds it most comfortable to be in the center of attention; other people’s birthday parties are difficult.   Maria loved her presents—a paintable teaset and a set of knitting looms.  She has already painted the teaset, and used a loom to knit her own version of a cozy for the teapot.  She has scheduled a fish-themed tea party for this afternoon (thus bringing together all her presents).

Meanwhile, the yellow irises that I planted two falls ago are preparing to bloom.  The rhododendum blossoms have burst out of their magenta lipstick buds, to show crinkly star faces.  The robin babies that were born in a nest in the Rhododendrum, have grown feathers and left the nest.   Donnie just spotted one on the ground--maybe they are in flight training.   Oh, profusion of life.  Oh, May!

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