Wednesday Whine: This n That

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It has been a few weeks since we’ve sat back on this comfortable old sofa and shared a glass of wine. Seems like it’s hard to carve out a few peaceful moments in the mad dash of the holiday season. Given that it is the holiday season, perhaps it’s fitting that instead of wine we lift a glass of wassail and wish each other good health in the coming year. Do any of you make wassail? The only time I’ve ever sampled it was during the Christmas festivities in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was mighty fine!

The last two weeks have been busy for me but also fun. December is rushing by and we are now a week shy of Christmas Eve. Hard to believe.

Part of the rush has been due to my theatre commitments!

Hippodrome, circa 1932

Hippodrome, circa 1932

In late summer, I convinced my sister that it would be fun to subscribe to the theatre season in Baltimore. I was glad when she agreed. Over the years it has become increasingly important to me to maintain a close relationship with my only sister, and I enjoy finding things we can do together.

So every month or so, we end up in our ‘left orchestra’ seats at the Hippodrome Theatre. The Hippodrome, considered the Grand Lady of theatre in Baltimore, opened her doors for the first time in November 1914. Since then, she’s seen a lot of acts come and go. Among them was a young, blue-eyed singer making his first appearance with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in June 1939. Word is that the young man had a way with a song… wonder whatever became of him?

Frank Sinatra, circa 1939

Frank Sinatra, circa 1939

The theatre featured many live acts until 1959; after that it became a movie house. In 1990, it closed its doors. Like the area surrounding it, the theatre had fallen on hard times.

Hippodrome InsideIn 2004, fully renovated, the Grand Lady was featuring live entertainment once again. Baltimore welcomed her back with open arms. Like a great lady, she has retained her charm. The inside of the theatre is stunning.

The most recent show my sister and I attended was two weeks ago. Newsies, a production that boasts more energy than charm, was our second show of the season. None of the songs are particularly memorable and the jokes are just so-so. The history (based the newsboys’ 1899 strike against newspaper tycoon Joseph Pulitzer) is romanticized. The show had won a Tony for its choreography and it’s easy to understand why. Some of the dancing numbers are outstanding and quite athletic. I enjoyed the show, but it’s one that is forgettable once you leave the theatre.

Newsies_(musical)_poster

This past Sunday, my sister and I teamed up again to take our mother out in celebration of her 80th birthday. This time we went to the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall for the holiday show, Jolly Pops. It was delightful. How could it miss? It featured the Baltimore Choral Society as well as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. There’s something about hearing a full orchestra! The bright sounds of the horns, the sweet melodies of the strings, and the strong notes sounded by the percussive instruments are a treat for the ears. Put that together with a large choir and you have something pretty special. The chorus line of dancing Santas contributed to the holiday spirit – as did the glass of wine at intermission.

Baltimore Cuisine!

Baltimore Cuisine!

My mother enjoyed going out to the show, and then to dinner with her two girls. We let her choose the restaurant and she opted for her favorite, Pappas Restaurant & Sports Bar in Parkville, Maryland. For her dinner, she ordered what all Baltimoreans order: the crab cake dinner. YUM. You want crab cakes? You come to Baltimore. Only Baltimore knows how to make a crab cake. The secret? McCormick’s OLD BAY SEASONING®. Baltimoreans love the stuff – and with good reason.

Seasons change...

Seasons change…

We had a lovely time, but there was an underlying bitter sweetness. Crossing a crowded, traffic-laden street to get to the theatre, I reached for my mother’s thin hand and guided her through cars and knots of pedestrians, pointing out high curbs or cracks in the road. Once she arrived safely across the street, she looked at me and smiled. “I remember when I used to take your hand and lead you across the street,” she said.

That brought a lump to my throat. My mother has reached the season in her life where she accepts assistance rather than provides it. It’s a sobering reminder of how quickly time passes, and how our days are numbered and precious.

All the more reason to celebrate them, I think.

Well, friends, I do believe I’ve taken enough of your time for this Wednesday. If you’ve any holiday thoughts or memories you’d like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments section. Also, if you make wassail, do let me know. Fair warning, however: if you make it, I’ll be coming to your house to lift a cup with you.

I’d like to end this week’s Wednesday Whine by wishing all of my Jewish friends a most Happy Chanukah. God bless.

Chanukah

About Kate Loveton

Aspiring novelist. Avid reader of fiction. Reviewer of books. By day, my undercover identity is that of meek, mild-mannered legal assistant, Kate Loveton, working in the confines of a stuffy corporate law office; by night, however, I'm a super hero: Kate Loveton, Aspiring Novelist and Spinner of Tales. My favorite words are 'Once upon a time... ' Won't you join me on my journey as I attempt to turn a hobby into something more?
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46 Responses to Wednesday Whine: This n That

  1. Love B’More, Hon! I lived 20 years in DC, so spent many a time in Memorial Stadium and later Camden Yards (DC didn’t get its own baseball team until after I moved away). I remember well Roma sausages, Little Italy, the Inner Harbor, Vaccaro’s, and Bergers cookies. A great foodie town!

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Hello former neighbor! And don’t forget the crab cakes! Yum! Now I live in PA, only 15 minutes past the Maryland state line – and the PA restaurants can’t make a decent crab cake to save their lives!

  2. Zambian Lady says:

    Happy belated birthday to your mum. My parents are also getting on in years, and my siblings and I have to do some things for them. They are still independent, but they need more regular checking on than we did before.

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Thank you. Forgive me for the late reply, but time has gotten away from me. It is true that as our parents age, they require more checking on them as in the past. The circle of life, huh? 🙂 Always a pleasure to hear from you!

  3. W. K. Tucker says:

    I lost my mom around ten years ago. I remember during her later years doing things for her she had done for me when I was little. It was heartbreaking. I remember thinking as I watched this once-strong woman growing more frail, her back more bent, her mind slipping away, that I wished I could give her some of my own life. Cherish your mom, Kate; all too soon she’ll be gone.

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Hi friend! You are right… it is a tough thing to watch our parents grow older. I remember my mom vividly as a young woman, herding me through crowds. Now things have come full circle. ❤

  4. willow1945 says:

    Thanks for sharing, Kate; I especially liked hearing about your sister and your mother and you.It struck a poignant chord.

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Hi Willow. It is very important to me to keep close ties with my sister. One day I will lose my mom; I don’t want to lose track of my sister. I think we feel these things more keenly as time goes by.

  5. markbialczak says:

    Sort of sweet, very sweet and bittersweet. “Newsies,” the Baltimore Symphony-Chorale Combo and guiding your mom through the busy street was quite the pre-holiday weekend to remember, Kate. Savor it. Especially the moment with your mom, my friend. Thanks for sharing that.

  6. I remember the first time i saw my father’s hand shake as he helped me fix a door in my old house. It was probably one of the saddest moments of my life–we joked all the way through it–thank God.

    • Kate Loveton says:

      It is a sobering thing, isn’t it? That first time we realize – fully realize – that our parents are getting older. It’s a hard thing, but maybe a good thing in that it teaches us that time, fleeting, is precious – and that we should make haste to let family and friends know how much they matter to us.

  7. Difficult not to get a lump in the throat over those moments. Do you sing (wassailing) to the apple trees like they do in some parts of England?

  8. How interesting! I love the history and what a wonderful treat for your mother. My mother has her own big birthday coming up next year; it’s bitter sweet, like you say. But, as always, you’re positive, Kate and we must celebrate the good times 🙂

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Hi Esther, I hope you mom has a lovely time on her birthday! My mother had a terrific time when we took her out for her birthday. And yes, you are right: enjoy the good times. Those are the memories we hold close as the years go by. 🙂

  9. Happy birthday to your mom. Enjoy the time you have. She sounds a sweetheart.

    Some years ago, I was hired to cook and host a Canadian Christmas dinner. A dozen Japanese women were here on vacation, and instead of hotels, they stayed in private homes to get the flavor of Canadian life. I’m not sure if it was Wassail or hot cider the organizer had prepared. The aroma, though aromatic, didn’t make the grade. The ladies wanted wine but the party co-ordinator had banned serving it. A couple, friends of the organizer arrived at my house with a bottle of wine. They couldn’t figure out why I wouldn’t open it and the Japanese ladies salivated. I wanted to break open my Christmas stash but followed the rules.

    I never asked, but I believe the ladies enjoy their wine and the bar tab would have been too high. 😀 😀

    • Kate Loveton says:

      You always have such great stories! (grin) Loved this one. Dear Tess, I am so far behind at present in reading my favorite blogs, of which yours ranks high on the list. I am off work this week and hope to catch up on your China travels.

      Your remark above about the ladies enjoying their wine and the bar tab made me laugh!

      • Hope you had a wonderful time off work .I’m retired and took a week off, but accomplished little except a small dent in delicious reading. 😀

        I look forward to getting to know you better Kate. It’s been such a pleasure meeting you. ❤ ❤

        • Kate Loveton says:

          Goes without saying I feel the same about you, Tess.

          Sigh… I’m still behind in all things, in spite of a week off. I’m not sure where the time goes. 🙂

        • One thing is sure, P.o.o.f. and it’s gone. Don’t blink! There, it’s gone again. Sigh.

          I’ve promised myself not to stress out this year and try to keep up the pace I did last year. I don’t want to get old before my time. 😀 😀 😀

  10. Firstly, happy birthday to your Mom, I hope she had a great one ❤

    Your post is a reminder to us all that life goes far quicker than any of us want it to. Life is for making the most of family and friends.

    Thank you for another great post, Kate ❤

    • Kate Loveton says:

      You are welcome, Heather! If anyone understands the need to keep close to family and friends, it is you. ❤ You always make time for those important to you – and I can attest to that!

  11. noelleg44 says:

    I would be happy to share a cup of wassail with you, Kate! Now…where did I put the recipe? Wonderful memories and cherish your mother. I lost mine a few years ago and I still find myself reaching for the phone to call her when something happens. My husband went to JHU and while there, learned to make REAL crab cakes – no filler, no onions and green peppers, but yes, the Old Bay Seasoning! We still have crab cakes when we are in Baltimore but I also like the crab-stuffed rockfish.

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Noelle, somehow I just know you have a recipe for wassail somewhere in your recipe book. Okay, when should I show up? 😀 Your husband knows ALL about good crab cakes – and yep: plenty of Old Bay Seasoning! I love crab stuffed rockfish by the way. Rockfish is my favorite!

  12. I’ve been to Baltimore a couple times for a game, food, and drink but missed visiting the Hippodrome! What a grand theater. I’m glad you had time to spend time with your sister and mother. 🙂

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Visit again, Cindy – next time, let me know you are coming. We’ll go to the theatre together! Hey, guess what was one Christmas Eve in my neck of the woods? ‘Meet Me in Saint Louis.’ I love that musical. If I can talk about old movies and musicals with anyone, that person is you! 🙂

  13. High on the list of my abiding memories of a few days spent in DC and Maryland (2005, I think it was), along with a walk around Havre de Grace in Chesapeake Bay, would be the two or three nights spent at the Travelodge in Aberdeen, which meant evenings in Grumpy’s and imbibing their fabulous though near-lethal Grumpette cocktail (which we still occasionally approximate at home).

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Oh, yes, Havre de Grace! And Aberdeen! I am familiar with both — but there are so much nicer areas to visit. Come again, Keith – I’ll be your tour guide! 🙂 Shall I show you Fort McHenry where Francis Scott Key wrote the song that became our National Anthem? When the British bombarded Fort McHenry, Key saw our tattered flag still flying and it inspired him to write the poem, ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’ Baltimore has a lot of history – including that of Elizabeth (Betsy) Patterson who married, even briefly, one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s younger brothers. Napoleon frowned on the union – and one always did what Napoleon wanted! So much for that marriage!

  14. Apropos of Newsies, by coincidence, I went to the theatre last week and saw the play ‘Rupert’. Based on Rupert Murdoch. Not sure we Aussies did you any favours letting you adopt him. Please don’t send him back. After seeing the play, I have just about forsworn democracy. I’ll never be able to believe I voted for the person I wanted, maybe it was just the one he wanted. There’s my contribution to Wednesday whinge 😄 have a great festive season.

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Ha! You don’t want Rupert back? (grin) Have you decided what to put in place of democracy? You know, my country (the USA) started out as a republic. Now it is a democracy. There is no really effective form of governing. It’s like doing business with the devil: compromise, compromise. I’m not sure how much power Rupert has in swaying people here. My own feeling about what I see in the media is this: I listen to Murdock’s FOX news and I listen to other more liberal channels. I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. When it comes to truth in media, I am a born cynic.

      • I was thinking we should move to a benevolent dictatorship, something along the lines of lee quan yew’s Singapore. Of course, I would be in charge, but I would need a deputy. I’ll let you know when the position comes available ( grin ). In the meantime I guess I’ll just have to stay perceptive to the hidden agendas in our democracy. I have managed to take the discussion right off Christmas and wassail – so I hope you had a great day.

  15. Bruce Goodman says:

    I’ve been so busy moving house that Christmas has taken a back seat. Thanks for shoving me into the spirit. I shall definitely begin the decorations and the wassail drinking tomorrow. You’re welcome to call in for a “sip”!

  16. andy1076 says:

    Sounds to me like things have come full Circle huh? In truth I’m not sure how I will handle when my daughter grows up and helps her old man cross the street, Happy birthday to your mom by the way!

    That photo of Sinatra though, wow! :O

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