Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Nutcracker, birthdays, anniversaries, and a college graduation

(Above:  LoraDell Baker raising her champagne flute in a toast to her 95th birthday.)

I've got plenty of wonderful family news to share in this post!  December 2013 will most assuredly prove to be memorable!

(Above:  Natasha Oughtred, Mathias Lenz Dingman, and Miki Mizutani as the Sugar Plum Fairy, The Prince, and Clara in The Nutcracker.)

Steve and I flew to England for a wonderful week of Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of The Nutcracker.  In different casts, our elder son Mathias danced the role of "the prince" and his girlfriend Laura-Jane was Clara.  We were thrilled, of course ... and flew back to the States in time to immediately travel north to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.  It was a BIG, BIG weekend!  

(Above:  Linda Lenz and Gloria Baker on Friday, December 13th ... Linda's 75th birthday!)

It started on Friday the Thirteenth ... my Mom's 75th birthday.  We had a great time at Lenzelhof, her lakeside log cabin home.  Aunt Gloria (who turned 80 last September) and Uncle Larry came out.  My sister Sonya and husband Vipin were there too.  We talked about the coming day ...

(Above:  Tony's graduation from Slippery Rock University ... beside my mom and Dad, professor emeritus.)

... my nephew Tony Papley's graduation from Slippery Rock University.  Dad donned his gown and The Ohio State University hood to walk with the faculty as a professor emeritus.

(Above:  My sister Sonya after Greystone Manor's committee room had been transformed into a beautiful birthday setting.)

Bright and early on Sunday morning the committee room at Greystone Manor was transformed into a a beautiful birthday setting.  My sister Sonya went out of her way to make every detail special.  The place mats were reproductions of a foxy photo of Grandma in c. 1965 on the Atlantic City boardwalk.  This image was used on Grandma's 95th birthday cake too.  Sonya found Grandma's cloth napkins and punch cups too.  She also made little gnome-like party favors for all 30 seats and brought bags of recycled and natural materials to decorate the table.  Feather boas, twinkle lights, spray-painted twigs and pine-cones and an assortment of tablecloths and lace were used.  It looked FANTASTIC! 

(Above:  Grandma's photo collages.)

From Grandma's storage area, collages of family photos were retrieved and displayed.  Everyone was in at least one picture!  Grandma was brought to tears and it was so much fun to remember former occasions for other grand celebrations.

 (Above:  JPC Event Group catering.)

With so many people coming, it only made sense to hire a caterer.  Jen was great!  Not only was everything hot, delicious, and perfectly served ... but she put up with Sonya, Joann, Emily, Steve and I as we moved around the furniture and worked on the party decorations.  We were often in her way but she "went with the flow".  She had no problem working with the fact that we were doing the tables ... including the tablecloths and napkins ... and deducted some of this normal expense from the final bill.  Jen even cut and served the cakes that we brought.  Not many caterers are so easy-going, friendly, fast, and flexible!  Thank you Jen and JPC Event Group!  

(Above:  Birthday dinner for 30!)

The meal was great!  The conversations were hilarious, and Grandma was definitely "Queen Bee".

(Above:  The "cake table" ... featuring carrot, marble, and decadent chocolate on three different cakes ... one for Tony's graduation with his football photo, one for the 55th anniversaries with a photo taken less than a month ago of Mom and Dad with Uncle Larry and Aunt Gloria celebrating their years together, and one of Grandma ... obviously the decadent chocolate one.)

We had a special table for the cakes but also another special table for punch and champagne.  We all toasted the big occasions before the meal began.  (See first photo on this blog post of Grandma!)

(Above:  Residents of Greystone Manor at Grandma's 95th birthday reception.)

The brunch when from 11 until 1:30.  From 1:30 until 2:00, the table settings and food were cleared and the room was transformed once again ... this time into Grandma's 95th birthday reception with all the residents of Greystone Manor.  Everyone had a great time.

(Above:  The party's over!)

The last visitor left about ten minutes before 4:00 PM but Grandma insisted on staying until the very last minute.  It was her day ... and she left with a basket of cards and candy and covered in balloons.  (All the other presents were already transported to her fifth floor apartment.

The photos here are only a sampling of those I snapped.  To see the entire set on Flickr!, CLICK HERE.
Yet, I also took eight videos.  Why?  Well, my sister Wanda wasn't able to attend.  I know she missed being with everyone and really wanted to feel the joy, love, and Grandma's excitement ... so I shot videos.  Unfortunately, my camera doesn't take videos that coordinate with Windows Movie Maker (despite attempts to add software to alter that fact).  Thus, I can't create something with titles, credits, transitions, and other editing ... but I was quite capable of uploading all eight to You Tube!  (If I'd watched them before uploading ... I'd have realized that # 7 and # 9 are only three seconds long and the result of forgetting that my camera was set to "video" mode instead of "photo" mode! LOL!)

Video 1
Video 2
Video 3
Video 4
Video 5
Video 6
Video 7
Video 8

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mathias and LJ's summer vacation photos!

Mathias and Laura-Jane booked passage on the ferry to France for their "mini" and for themselves.  They spent nearly two weeks traveling through World War II bunkers, historic towns, vineyards, and sunny beaches.  They returned to England in order to wash clothes before going on to a friend's wedding in Scotland.  The photos from these adventures were shared on Facebook ... and now they are on "My Family Blog" ... so that my Mom and Dad can see them too. 

CLICK HERE for a Flickr! set.
Dad ... Flickr! has changed.  I can't seem to find a link directly to the slideshow.  Just click the link above and then click on the first photo.  You will see an arrow on the right side ... so that you can go to the next image.  It is easy!  You don't even need Mom's help!  Try it ... You'll like it!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Alex's Longboard Event

(Above:  11:00 AM ... Skaters arrive.)

It's been since February's Pub Night, a fund raiser for Columbia Music Festival Association (CMFA), since Steve and I have seen or heard from Alex.  We've heard he's working ... frying chicken at a place called Zaxby's.  We know what building he lives in with his long time girlfriend Erica.  The bank tellers at Arthur State Bank have told us that he still has an account there ... and that he's nice and friendly.  We've also heard from friends that Alex still helps out at CMFA.  We knew that the Jasper Magazine release party was at CMFA this past Friday night.  Ordinarily, we would have been there but this past weekend found us in Washington, DC.  We were at Wolftrap listening to the National Symphony Orchestra play Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Orff's Carmina Burana.

We couldn't help but to think of Alex.  He knows both pieces very, very well.  (I used to promise to buy him a Beanie Baby toy if we could get the entire house cleaned by the time Carmina Burana was over.  It is GREAT music for house cleaning!  Alex was also involved in a 2005 joint art/music project between the visual arts community and the local philharmonic featuring Pictures at an Exhibition.)

(Above:  Alex talks to the assembled skaters.)

Steve and I wondered if Alex was at CMFA ... and we sort of got our answer when Steve's cell phone started to vibrate just as the final "O Fortuna" was about to be sung.  Obviously, Steve didn't answer.  Later, we noticed Alex's number ... one we got back in February.  We called and left a message.

(Above:  Alex telling the skaters that helmets and gloves were required ... to walk up the side of the road and beware of any cars ... and to have lots of fun.)

Well, yesterday evening Alex called again and invited us to a longboard event he was hosting today.  Unfortunately, the start time was 11:00 AM ... during regular business hours.  So, only I got to go.  I snapped these photos.

(Above:  Three skaters climbing the hill.)

I learned that Alex organized and publicized the event on Facebook.  It was called The General Lee Slide Jam and Birthday Bash.  Alex rounded up prizes and served as the judge.  This meant he didn't actually bring his own longboard to the event.  He was too busy watching the others and determining who would win.  

(Above:  Alex on a borrowed long board carrying water to the top of the hill.)

The parking was about three blocks away from this steep hill.  Alex explained that the pavement was "icy" ... which meant it was "slippery".  He told me how some of the wheels are softer than others.  Softer wheels allow the rider to do different tricks.  Harder wheels make for faster conditions.  Several of the skaters brought two boards ... one with soft wheels and another with hard wheels.  It sort of reminded me of Steve's bowling days ... when "scratch" bowlers (those good enough not to have any scoring handicap) brought several balls that reacted differently to the way the lanes were oiled.

(Above:  Going to the top of the hill.)

Some of these longboarders came from out-of-state ... looking for a new, interesting hill to try.  Just the day before several were in Atlanta at another event, including Alex.

(Above:  Climbing the hill.)

Most of the skaters also wore heavy knee pads.  They all wore the required helmets and gloves.

(Above:  Alex returning with a bottle of water for me.)

I saw most of the older skaters do lots of fancy slides and footwork.  Alex brought me one of the bottled water container before it started to rain.  It's been raining almost daily here in Columbia for over a month.  These longboarders still skate in the rain ... but the conditions change, of course.)

(Above:  Robert E. Lee ... the birthday boy for whom this event was organized.)

I also got to meet Robbie, the birthday boy.  He's twenty-seven today.

(Above:  The group waves good-bye.)

I didn't stay too long.  After all, it was a regular "work day" at Mouse House plus the rain seemed to be coming and going.  I drove to the top of the hill for this last photo.  Alex asked everyone to wave to his Mom.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mathias and LJ leaving for a French vacation!

Mathias and LJ are on vacation in France.  They posted this photo of them leaving England via ferry ... with the White Cliffs of Dover in the background!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Two videos of Mathias ... from seven years ago!

I guess the IBC (International Ballet Competitions) in Seoul, Korea is getting geared up for another event.  They posted a slew of videos from past years on the Internet including one of Mathias' classical variations and also Sertaki by Bejart.  Here are the links:

Steve and I wondered if Mathias knew these were now available ... so during a telephone call yesterday, we asked.  Mathias said he knew about the videos because the competition emailed him.  Then, we asked what he thought about his performances in these videos.  After all, they were taken years ago ... a month or so after his seventeenth birthday.  His answer, "Not bad for a kid."  LOL!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mathias and Laura-Jane are interviewed for BRB's blog!

I love the fact that Birmingham Royal Ballet is using social media and blogging to promote their company, its productions, and their performances!  This past week both Mathias and Laura-Jane were interviewed! 

Laura-Jane's interview is called "The Quick Change Artist" and is HERE

Mathias' interview is called "The Multitasker" and is HERE.

Steve and I are both so proud ... and Steve is especially excited as he leaves next week to see the production of Aladdin while the company is touring to London!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mathias as Aladdin

(Above:  Mathias as Aladdin and Maureya Lebowitz as Princess Badr Al Budar after their debut performance last weekend of David Bintley's Aladdin at the Lowry in Manchester, UK.  Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above:  Mathias as Aladdin and Maureya Lebowitz as Princess Badr Al Budar and James Barton as the magical Djinn.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I love it when Facebook opens to a photo of my son in a glorious costume with a smile (or smirk) on his face!  I hope the future brings more images, especially one in which Mathias is in the blue body paint!  Yes, for some of the shows, he's the genie!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Entrechat, Mathias Dingman's profile article


A couple of month's ago Mathias called to tell us that he'd be featured in a magazine that Birmingham Royal Ballet produces for members of a special group called "Friends of Birmingham Royal Ballet".  We were excited for him and excited to see this publication.  Of course, it took months before Mathias got the magazine and even longer for him to mail it. 

It was well worth the wait!  In fact, we were floored.  Everything about this magazine is first-rate and the photos are drop-dead gorgeous.  Naturally, we only got three copies:  one for my parents, one for my grandmother (Mathias' great grandma), and one for us.  This meant "sharing" the pages was problematic ... especially since scanning and posting is against copyright regulations.  So, I wrote a message to Rob Lindsay, the media officer for BRB asking for permission to "share" the article. 

Fabulously, Rob wrote back with a link to every page, page by page, and permission to post it!  CLICK HERE to read the words ... which are Mathias' personal account of his work, training, and life in the company!  (It takes a couple seconds for all FIVE pages to upload ... but this, too, is worth the wait!) 


Sunday, January 27, 2013

An Evening of Music and Ballet, gala performance in Birmingham

(Above:  Principal dancer Nao Sakuma and First Soloist MATHIAS DINGMAN in costume at Symphony Hall in Birmingham, UK.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Gotta love Facebook when you log on and find a photo of your elder son from the evening before ... in costume for the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux that closed a gala performance called "An Evening of Music and Ballet" in Birmingham's Symphony Hall.  Don't they look wonderful!  Steve and I wish we could have witnessed the performance!  Fortunately, we have friends who did and Facebooked their cyber applause and congratulatory remarks!