Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Back from a trip to Pennsylvania and England!

(Above: Mathias and Laura-Jane ready to dance in David Bintley's Carmina Burana, Birmingham Royal Ballet. Click on any photo to enlarge.)

It feels like I've been out-of-town for a long, long time. Yet, I actually wasn't even away for a full two weeks!

First, Steve and I went to Pennsylvania for Father's Day weekend ... and to celebrate my sister Wanda's 50th birthday. Wanda and her husband Reinhard were visiting from Munich. I took several photos of us relaxing at Lake Lenzelhof, my parents' "private" 10-acre lake ... but I'm saving those for another post. For Father's Day, my youngest sister Sonya arranged for a lovely brunch at the Foxburg Inn, a beautiful place along the banks of the Allegheny River.

It was quite a spectacular day.

The dinner was great. The gift shop was nice. The view was crystal clear.

We saw a water snake....

... a giant pincher bug ...

before going on a family SEGWAY tour with Segway of Western PA. Sonya arranged the package ... with a golf cart for Mom and Dad and segways for the rest of us.

Of course, Sonya was prepared too ... with the perfect shade of lipstick!

We drove to the stables on the Fox Mansion ...

...where we got to see the horses ...

... and the collection of antique carriages ...

... and sleighs ...

... and finally arrived in the section for our individual segway instructions! Steve was the first to be taught how to operate these two-wheeled vehicles that are programmed to respond to one's shifting weight.

Before long Wanda was ready to go from "snail" pace to the whopping 12 miles per hour maximum! (We were "upgraded" for speed on the final stretch of the road back to the stables! Boy was it FUN!)

Vipin and Sonya looked fine in their protective helmets.

Mom and Dad looked fine in their golf cart too!

The "Heritage Tour" took us past the Fox Mansion and all over its property ...

...including a guest house ...

... and an aviary where we saw strutting peacocks ...

... to a barn ...

...with all sorts of antique machines ...

... and a wine press. Foxburg does have its own winery too.

On the grounds were small buildings for alpaca and miniature donkeys.

Dad would have like to take this firewood shelter with its great chopper home!

The birdhouses were even fancy!

The outhouse was cute too!

At one point we got off the segways to enjoy this view to the Iron Bridge over the Allegheny River.

Our guide took our photo there. It was a great weekend.

From Pennsylvania, I flew on to Manchester, England on Monday. I spent most of Tuesday exploring the Weaste Cemetery and a church in the suburban town of Bury. I collected several epitaphs and made a few great grave rubbings on fabric. Then, I took a train into Birmingham.

It is wonderful to have a son and his girlfriend with their very own HOUSE ...

..and a car ... so I never had to drive on the wrong side of the road.

Ballet dancers stay very busy ... especially with laundry.

They've hung a few of their framed pictures ... including this hand colored wood block by my friend Jeff Donovan.

I insisted that they take my camera back stage for these photos. Above is one of the casts for Allergi Diversi. Naturally, the guys are still in their "warm-up" pants.

This is Mathias and Laura-Jane with their friend Oliver.

(Anther shot of the three friends.)

Yet, the performance that I most wanted to see was David Bintley's Carmina Burana. It is undoubtedly my very favorite music of all time. Obviously, Mathias was one the seven seminarians. The ballet showed the trials and tribulations of three of them ... lust, anger/gluttony, and spiritual weakness. Mathias danced a role called "Boiling Rage". It was in the section about gluttony. Laura-Jane was obviously part of the section on lust. Ex Cathedra sang with live music. THEY DANCED FANTASTICALLY. Laura-Jane was featured in her role for all six shows. Mathias danced his principal role in three of six performances. The English audiences are usually quite subdued ... but not for this production. It was an honor to finally get to be part of a standing ovation.

Now ... to catch up a bit. Above is the photo from the Birmingham Royal Ballet's tour blog featuring Chi Cao, Nao Sakuma, and Mathias Dingman in their "The Dream" costumes. (Basically Midsummer Night's Dream). This was taken while touring Japan.

Also, above and below are two photos from Jamie Schumacher's college graduation day! I simply forgot to post them but know family members will enjoy them!