Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Much to do with nature this week. Despite a couple of mornings with white frost on everything, the garden continues to produce and we still have one begonia, all the pansies, petunias, verbena and a wide variety of common weeds flourishing on the property. Our rose bushes put out a couple of flowers last week. Several varieties of insects are going strong--NOT including mosquitoes, praise be! As we're in New Hampshire, albeit only about 20 miles north of the border with Massachusetts, we qualify as northern New England--and about five weeks overdue for a major killing frost. The weather looks to remain mild well into next week.

The seed tassels of the ornamental grasses are a flat light tan color until the sun hits them and they sparkle as if made of glass beads on thin wires.

We were given a breeding house for mason bees for Christmas last year. I hadn't heard of mason bees until receiving this gift and once I'd read the directions we weren't sure if we had any in the area. I hung it on the side of the house in the summer and last week I saw that at least one mason bee had found it.

The females lay their eggs in the long narrow tubes (bamboo in this particular model) and then seal the tube with material they chew into a sticky plaster. You can see a neatly sealed tube in the lower right, up against the frame. In the spring the new insects will break through the barrier and go off to fertilize our flower and vegetable gardens.


How to decorate your house for the holidays with minimal effort, little expense and a considerable amount of reflected glory.


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From the Boston Globe:
"Sondheim tells all
Legendary composer Stephen Sondheim told a sellout crowd in Sanders Theatre Saturday night that as far as he’s concerned, Tim Burton’s 2007 “Sweeney Todd’’ is the only successful film adaptation of his work. But what about the popular movie versions of “West Side Story,’’ “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,’’ and “Gypsy’’? The always-candid Sondheim said that while he enjoyed them, “I don’t think they’re very good.’’ By contrast, Sondheim said, Burton’s film starring Johnny Depp as the vengeful barber was “really conceived for what film does.’’ During an onstage conversation with New York Times columnist Frank Rich as part of the Celebrity Series of Boston, Sondheim also reminisced about crucial revisions he made to “Follies’’ and “Company’’ during their Boston tryouts in the early 1970s, and told entertaining stories about figures ranging from Elaine Stritch to Ingmar Bergman to Elizabeth Taylor."

Fritz and I were there with friends who share our admiration for Sondheim's work. Three of his stories were especially enjoyable. He spoke of the final number, "Rose's Turn," in the musical Gypsy, a capstone number written for Ethel Merman. He had originally ended it with Rose winding down and collapsing, her repeated cries of "for me . . . for me . . . for me" trailing off into sobs and silence.

There was no applause for the number at the out of town try-outs and the dialog that follows between Rose and her daughter Gypsy Rose Lee (Sondheim: "where daughter becomes mother and mother becomes the daughter") fell flat with the audience. The then-young Sondheim was advised by Broadway's legendary director George Abbot that the audience had to be able to applaud, HAD to give Merman an ovation so as to close out her breakdown and allow the transition to the newly negotiated relationship with the daughter she had formerly dominated so obsessively. Sondheim rewrote the end so that Rose trumpets out the "for me!!"s defiantly. There was huge applause--and the next audiences found the ending upbeat and the relationship resolved. Sondheim ended the story with,"I love writing nervous breakdowns--I understand them so well!"

A Little Night Music was the source of two stories. Hermione Gingold was cast as old Madame Armfeld only after she had shown in an audition that her career largely as a campy comedienne was not the only side of her talent. Sondheim and the producers saw a commanding and controlled Gingold and cast her immediately. However she still knew how to work a crowd.

After the show had opened in New York--the only Sondheim musical ever to get good critical reviews (as opposed to public acclaim) in its first production--legendary film maker Ingemar Bergman whose Smiles of a Summer Night had been the source for Night Music, visited New York to discuss a joint project with the composer. Sondheim said he was awed at meeting the articulate, incredibly intelligent and elegant Bergman who saw him the morning after seeing a performance. He observed that other than the basic plot there was no similarity whatsoever between the film and the musical; then he winked and said, "But that Gingold certainly does f**k the audience, doesn't she!"

The film version of Night Music was a legendary cinematic disaster for many reasons. Two of the women in the cast, Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Rigg (Sondheim: "a VERY sharp lady") shared a trailer on location. One morning Rigg was writing a letter and asked Taylor what the date was. Taylor didn't know offhand and began looking for a calendar. Rigg suggested she just look at a newspaper that was lying on a chair. Taylor picked it up, looked at it a moment and said, "Oh, we can't tell from this--it's yesterday's paper." The audience roared.

I saw Sondheim & Frank Rich in an evening of conversation at the Newmark Theatre in downtown Portland. It was great event. They sat in two beautiful highbacked chairs & just...talked. I have done 3 Sondheim shows, including plaing Hysterium in 2 productions of FORUM.

I think the movie of FORUM is flawed, but you are correct about Gypsy & West Side Story.

This pics of the frost are lovely.

The Mason bees will come & they are so important to the garden.

hugs to Fritz.
I'm so wicked jealous, right now! What an incredible sounding evening.

LOVED the story of Rose's Turn and how they "fixed" it . . . sometimes ya gotta give the audience what they demand!

Hugs caro,

I saw A little Night Music in out of town try-outs in Boston (1973!)
You two never fail to amaze me how many fabulous and interesting events you attend.
A brief comment about your weather, Will - I grew-up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and remember many years when ponds had frozen over for several days around Thanksgiving. You are much farther north, and are 5 weeks behind for a killing frost. Amazing that folks still doubt the fact of global warming!

John Bittinger Klomp
How's it going?

I like your site a lot. There's a lot of interesting stuff on here. I'm a first-time visitor, but I'm liking what I'm seeing. I have a site that provides inspiration and guidance to people around the world. I'd like to exchange links with you to help spread some traffic around. Please let me know if this is possible.

Will, that is a great idea for decorating! Fun. Love the pic.

I've seen breeding houses for mason bees before and had no idea what they were. Thanks for clearing that mystery up.

Have a great holiday!
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