Thursday, March 27, 2014

Music and Art in Marion, Virginia

We recently attended a bluegrass concert at the Lincoln Theater in  Marion, Virginia (population less than 6,000).  The music was as good as we expected. 

The performance was being recorded for a PBS show called Song of the Mountains. We were coached to make noise--applause, hoot, and whistle shrilly--during the breaks.  We were part of the show! Certainly we'll watch the broadcast sometime next year to see if we made the cut.

Unexpectedly, the theater itself was the real star. 

It was built in 1929 as a moving picture "palace". It is a rare surviving example of Mayan-inspired art deco theaters, designed by the Novelty Scenic Studios in New York City. The building is highly decorated with "Mayan designs figures of gods, animals, mythological creatures ... found on the walls, columns, pilasters, brims and ceiling."  My photos don't do justice to the original design or the restoration. 

When it was built Americans were just "discovering" the rich Mayan art of Central America and celebrating it in their imitations of glyphs and pyramids. 

Now, it seems very odd that a rural mountain town would have such an elaborate and culturally-distant tribute. It is to the town's credit that after years of disuse and decay they restored the building and applied to have it added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Interjected into the Mayan theme, are six historical paintings: Columbus arriving in the New World, the American Revolution, the Civil War (featuring Robert E. Lee) , Daniel Boone, Smyth County's cattle industry, and the Industrial Age.  They are a beautiful set, although incongruous with the rest of the auditorium. 

rise of industry in Smyth County

The theater stays busy with local productions of plays, musicals, and a  variety of local, and nationally known, musicians. The night we went, the 600 plus seats were filled with folks from all over the East coast. Here's a link to their performance schedule if you want to enjoy it for yourself. 

If you're within driving distance, I urge you to build a trip around a performance there, a visit to the Heartwood Artisan Center in Abington, and one of the local wineries.

I hope you'll make a comment if you've visited  another place that would fit on the itinerary, because I intend to go again. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sprigs: a $9.00 tomato

I feel a little like the witch in the gingerbread house. She fed her guests so they would be plump when she baked and ate them. 

I pamper my tomato plants to the same end. 
I planted seeds in nice little jiffy pots and put them under the plastic dome of a re-purposed vegetable tray to create a tiny greenhouse. Because I don't have a grow light, I put it on top of a gutted angel food cake pan. The heat from the furnace kept them warm and sped up germination. 

Bingo. It worked. Now I shuffle the pie plate from room to room to catch the sunshine. They're leggy; but I'll move them to bigger pots soon. 

link to Territorial seeds at left
Fast forward to transplanting outdoors. I bought special plastic to mulch and heat their growing spot. Ruby tubing will create temporary hot houses when I put them out in early May. 

Then, like Jack's beans (I'm mixing my fairy tales) they'll grow and grow.  
I hope I get a lot of 'maters, because I've invested nearly $35.00 in seeds and fancy red plastic. If I have another harvest like last year's, each tomato will be worth $9.00! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sprigs: Daffodils kick off the gardening year

As far as I'm concerned, daffodils kick off the gardening year.

" I look forward to them every year, and every year they surprise me. That's the point of a garden, though, isn't it? Something to look forward to, something permanent. That's what I want to create here--markers of a year."    Nicola Upson

Next we'll have forsythia, 
lilacs if the weather's right, 
then iris, 
and peonies...

Oh, they're all wonderful and I anticipate every petal.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My Friend, Mma Ramotswe

I have a friend in Botswana named Mma Ramotswe. Fifteen years ago Alexander McCall Smith introduced us and  we became immediate friends. Over tea--she prefers red bush tea to my English breakfast--she's shown me how to handle delicate situations. She visited me while I was stuck in the hospital, and even there she kept me chuckling.  

On one visit "it was time for a further cup of tea and the conversation shifted to the subject of husbands, on which [we] both declared [ourselves] to be most fortunate." 

In the most current book, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon an acquaintance told her about a local course for the Modern Husband.  "'It is very good. I hear they teach men how to cook, or at least to think about cooking.' 

Mma Ramotswe's attention was immediately engaged." 

Mine, too. My husband is quite modern. He cleans. He does all of the grocery shopping. In a pinch he does laundry. And after years of negotiating, he cooks. 

I recently walked into the kitchen in the middle of his dinner preparations.  Every cupboard door he opened stayed open. The drawers waited for the utensils and spices to go back into their places. Eight linear feet of counter were covered with ingredients. 

If she had seen it, I can imagine my friend would have said, "Mma Glover, if he chops, mixes, and cooks, he is a thoroughly modern man. Surely you can close the cupboards."

As usual, you're right, Mma Ramotswe. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sprigs: Swell buds

Two weeks ago I flew to Denver via Dallas. The great plains below me were drab--brown rectangles, tan squares, horizontal harvesting stripes and wavy diagonal plow lines like petrified waves.  The circular fields could have been left-over blast zones from some gigantic rocket launch. Where bare trees grew in clumps, the branches looked liked dusty wool on grey sheep. 

Swell! Buds!

Last week, back in North Carolina, the red plump leaf buds on trees lining  highway 52 near Winston created a thin haze of color in the tree's crown. 

Today, two weeks and two days from official Spring, the daffodil buds are forming and I can see a tinge of yellow in the fattening tips. 

Swell, buds. It's been winter long enough.