Monday, July 28, 2008

Steve is Twice as Nice

This afternoon Steve and I went to the American Red Cross to donate blood. I'm a regular donor...have been for years. Steve, however, isn't. Yet, it was his blood that was desparately needed. In fact, they convinced him to go on the ALYX machine to donate double the red blood cells...while putting back the platelets and plasma.

They gave him a "Twice as Nice Sticker" and a gift certificate for a free waffle from Waffle House. He was thrilled. My blood was donated....nothing special.....just regular old O positive...the universal donor! Below is Steve's blood in the special machine getting separated into red cells, plasma and whatever else!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Back in the USA

Steve and I returned from England on separate separate airports. Steve's flight was, of course, hours and hours late. His carefully planned agenda had to be altered. He actually flew through Atlanta. My return was suppose to be a problem but wasn' just took forever. I landed at Dulles....outside of Washington, the southwest. The hotel, however, was the Baltimore Airport Marriott....outside Washington, the northeast. It took four hours and ten minutes to take a shuttle bus, two metro rides, another shuttle bus, to the hotel bus. I was on time though!

Mathias flew in the next day....while we recuperated from our travels with a pitcher of sangria at Rosa Mexicano. It is next to the Smithsonian's dual museum: Portrait Gallery/American Art which we also visited.

Our Trip to England: Part Three

(Above: Laura-Jane and Mathias in Manchester.)

Steve and I were both thrilled to see Mathias dance the role of Peasant Pas in BRB's Giselle. It is so nice to be able to watch the ballet more than once....the first time to follow the story and dancing....the second just to watch Mathias and Laura-Jane. Both danced well. Of course, in typical "ballet" fashion, Mathias said his performance could have been better. Ballet dancers are always harder on themselves than anyone else.

Steve and I also got to visit two other museums. One was the art museum. The other was the large Museum of Science and Industry. These photos are from there. I couldn't get any decent shots in the section of the sewer that we were able to tour, but there was an excellent guide who explained every step of the textile industry from the combing of the raw cotton fibers (above) through the rovings (below).... winding thousands of bobbins....

....on giant machines..... the actual weaving of fabric.

In another building were examples of transportation, all attractively displayed.

This included early 20th century airplanes, cars, bicycles, jets, and even a Model T Ford.

(Below is a detail of an engine made by Rolls Royce.)

Our final night in England was spent in the luxurious Airport Marriott enjoying the pool, sauna, hot tub, steam room, and cold plunge!

Our Trip to England: Part Two, BUXTON

Steve and I planned a day trip to Buxton, in the Peak District of England. The train ride was lovely; Buxton was lovely; the weather wasn't fabulous....but it could have been worse! We dodged rain all day long.

Just outside the city limits is one of the area's caves, Poole's Caverns. This provided a beautiful walk in the country and past fenced in suburban gardens with carved sod. Steve really admired this but knew our dry climate would never allow it.

The cave was larger than we anticipated. The tour was very good.

The guide tried to describe the unique stalactite formations as "a stack of pancakes" but all the men just rolled their eyes. They know a phallic symbol when they see one!

Another unique characteristic of this cave was this milky looking formation. It was only wet on the surface despite looking like a river of thick cream.

Of course, visiting a town's churches and cemeteries is always on our "to do" list. While rain poured, Steve and I crept around the graves taking photos.

The church beside this cemetery was closed but the older St. Mary's church was not only open, it was part of the local Blessing of the Wells and Flower Festival.

Inside we were treated to flower arrangements created with a "musical" theme. One window was called "The Sound of Music". Another was "Fathom of the Opera". There was "Miss Saigon", "Fiddler on the Roof", "Billy Elliot", and "Josef and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat". We were served tea and cookies and told about the wells.

(Above: One of the embroidered panels in St. Mary's)
Buxton was a popular settlement throughout history due to its hot, natural springs. Each year since pagan times, the wells are blessed with a festival. Nowadays, priests do the honors...but there is still a very pagan feel to it all. This festival began only days before our visit. It was also the start of the town's arts festival too.

Steve and I had a great lunch....soup....which we needed due to the cold rain. We roamed the little shopping streets, visited the Pump House which now houses local artisans' wares, and headed to the former part of the university.

On the way, we past the Opera House.

The university has a building simply referred to as "The Dome". It is the largest unsupported dome in England....bigger than St. Paul's cathedral! What was more fascinating to me, however, was the reflection on the pendulum that swung from the top!

Also in Buxton is a great antiquarian and used bookstore on five floors of an old, Victorian era building. It is called Scrivener's. The proprietor also teaches workshops on bookbinding and repairs old volumes. It was so much fun exploring all the rooms.

Above and below are the "Victorian" room.

Below is just one example of book art that hung on the narrow staircases....great inspiration.

Our Trip to England: Part One

(Click on all images to enlarge. Above: The grand hallway of Natural History in the Manchester Museum.....lots and lots of stuffed animals...some were rather creepy.)

By now most of my family and friends know that Steve and I went to England to watch Mathias in the Stravinsky triple bill and the classical Giselle. Steve carefully selects all our flight arrangements and painstakingly investigates all hotel options....only to have them scattered by weather delays and every other possible problem. As a result, I was only six or seven hours late, and Steve was over 26 hours behind schedule.

I made it to the Lowry in time to see the final part of the matinée Stravinsky program. Fortunately, this included Mathias' solo in Card Games. It was wonderful fun! My luggage, however, was lost; so, there was no need to find the hotel immediately. Mathias got a staff ticket for the evening production. I saw the whole show this time...with Mathias dancing a different part. Grand! (Except Steve wouldn't get to see this production at all.)

I took a taxi to the hotel in which we planned on staying only a single night. Later, I learned that Steve was spending the night in NYC....stranded....but able to get to the Met to see ABT's Giselle! This was a rare and wonderful treat to see the same ballet done by another internationally great night before seeing it done by BRB!

The next day we had planned to visit the Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Gallery. So, I did...alone...because I had no idea where Steve might be or when he might arrive. I had no luggage to worry with either. The museum was wonderful, one of those places with a bit of everything....strong on Egyptian artifacts and natural history. (I adore both!)

From this museum I went on to the Whitworth Gallery and saw the most incredible and inspirational exhibition by a printmaker named Anne Desmet. Her use of architecture as a means of expression was outstanding. Her ability to take traditional printmaking to a new, complicated and modern level totally amazed me. I probably should have purchased the catalog, but I was tire of carrying my heavy only luggage!

By the late afternoon, I went to the second hotel...closer to the Lowry. No rooms had been available the evening before. Fortunately, Steve had arrived. Amazingly, my luggage had been delivered! That night we saw Giselle for the first time. It is so nice to see a production before Mathias is dancing his "big part". He was in the show, of course, but not dancing the Peasant Pas in the first act.

We had a chance to have dinner with both Mathias and Laura Jane. It was great to catch up and listen to their "ballet" talk.