Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
But rather than get stuck on a ticky subject, I'll write about one of the interesting things I managed to do this month. I had been looking forward to this year's Sherlock Holmes Weekend in Cape May, and there was no way I was going to miss it because of that silly Lyme Disease and annoying bronchitis. I had been working on a new costume so that I could have a slightly different Victorian look each day. This is a weekend-long event, starting on Friday night with the revelation of a murder or two. The event takes place in the Victorian Inn of Cape May.
Professional actors portray the characters including Holmes and Watson. Participants are encouraged to dress Victorian, but few do. I was happy to see about eight women dressed on the first night. Saturday's events include the Search for Clues Tour where participants get to investigate a half-dozen Victorian inns for clues to the mystery. Knowing Sherlock Holmes, most of these would end up as red herrings (totally unrelated to the mystery's solution), but it is great fun to see the insides of the inns. This year I decided to skip the walking around on a cold, rainy afternoon because my bronchitis would have most certainly turned to pneumonia. I joined the group for the next part of the mystery at the Inn of Cape May immediately after the clues tour. Four of us were dressed up and got our picture in the local paper:
Sunday's installment includes a delicious lunch and the solution to the mystery. There's no way I'd ever solve these mysteries and win the prize--they are multi-faceted and convoluted. We're not just looking for whodunit; we are also attempting to figure out why and who the accomplices are. But isn't that the fun of Sherlock Holmes? Cape May's MAC keeps everyone interested, though, with prizes for best costumes, Clueless Wonder, and the amateur detective who comes closest to solving the mystery.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The Choo Choo Barn is another attraction just down the street. It started as a display in Mr. Groff's basement, and has grown to a huge layout featuring scenes of Lancaster County. Periodically, the lights go down and it's all lit up with twinking stars above. There's a house that catches on fire, a fire engine that drives over, a ski lift, and a tiny Strasburg Rail Road. This display is in a large room at one end of this mini-complex with train-related stores featuring books, videos, and Thomas merchandise.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The marsh is a great place to walk, with a camera or with a dog! Gladys the Sheltie puppy had an interesting experience months ago when she was tiny: she peered over the edge of the lake's bank and saw a puppy looking back a her. As she tried to get a better look, she tumbled head-first into the water! I should have re-named her Narcissus--wasn't he the Greek god who did just about the same thing in a myth? Almost any time of year there are great nature shots. The swans usually cooperate, and there are usually Canada geese and ducks. At the Friends of the Marsh Photography Exhibit (currently at the Ellarslie Museum in Trenton) I have seen some great shots of more unusual species such as great blue herons and beaver. I haven't been lucky enought to catch those yet. Here are my favorite swan and turtle photos:
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Eventually we made our way through the city to the Brandenburg Gate. Christabel led us through the center columns which used to be reserved for the kaiser! Finished in 1791, this is the only remaining gate of thirteen that used to stand on the perimeter of the city. Just past the gate is Unter den Lindens Avenue, a street with shops at one end and museums, libraries and performing arts centers at the other. I haven't figured out yet why the Old Library is known as the "Kommode".
Finally after a long day of travelling and touring, we relaxed for awhile in our (East Berlin) hotel, a very modern, minimalist place called Moevenpick which is also the name of some German ice cream. This is the kind of place that leaves candy on your pillow. Since we were in Germany, the candy was Haribo Gummy Bears. This was a very fancy hotel by my standards, with a beautiful view out the window, and a bathroom wall made out of glass block. Although we were tempted to stay in that evening and put our feet up, we had signed up for a variety show at the Winter Garden Theater which turned out to be great fun.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I'd like to go back to Leipzig. This was another quick stop with just enough time to eat lunch and shoot some photos. We chose a great restaurant--Auerbach's Keller--which was the setting for a scene in Goethe's "Faust". It's underneath a shopping area called the Madlerpassage, and its entrance is maked by scultures of events from its history. Anyway, the food was great. My selction was pork rolled in bacon with cauliflower and potatoes.
I was most excited about another Leipig site, the Thomaskirche. This beautiful church saw Martin Luther lectures, Mozart's organ playing, and the baptism of Richard Wagner. But even more importantly, this is where Johann Sebastian Bach spent most of his career. Much of his revered church music was composed for this gig, he met his second wife here (she was a soprano in the choir), and JSB is buried here. Fo a former music major, this is hallowed ground. I'd like to go bach to Leipzig to get a feel for Bach's city and exploe the Bach Museum!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Our first sightseeing excursion of the tour was a cruise on the Rhine River. There were castles, churches and towns on either side. The castles and castle ruins are the highlights, appearing one after another with little property surrounding them. (Eleventh-century Sooneck Castle is above, and Reichenstein Castle from 1192 is below.) These mostly anonymous medieval landowners were always jousting with their neighbors for more land.
I've had this unread book on my shelf for 22 years that I bought in the 1980s after hearing a review on the radio. It's a biography of the non-anonymous Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. We music majors knew about Frederick because he was an excellent flutist and notable patron of the arts. We visited his palace on the tour, Sanssouci in Potsdam. Sanssouci means "without worries" and this palace became a headquarters for intellectuals and Frederick's sophisticated friends. Voltaire lived here for three years. Frederick's tomb is on the grounds, and visitors leave flowers and potatoes on it. Why potatoes? Because Frederick brought the plant to Germany to feed the hungry poor. He forgot to tell them right away that they were supposed to eat the bottom part of the plant. They were eating the leaves and not liking it very much.
The other palace in Potsdam is Cecilienhof, where the Potsdam Conference starring Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, and later Truman, Attlee, and Stalin, took place. It was in this palace that they signed the Potsdam Agreement after World War II.
Another superstar king was Ludwig II (sometimes referred to as Mad King Ludwig). He built
Linderhof's man-made Venus Grotto, a ten-minute walk up a steep hill, was a retreat for the king where he had his buddy Richard Wagner's opera, Tannhauser, performed while he floated around the man-made grotto lake in a boast shaped like a scallop shell. (Think Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus".)
Ludwig's other famous castle, Neuschwanstein, also has a grotto inspired by the work of Richard Wagner, but it also features a bigger tribute. The singer's Hall, a fancy Rococo auditorium, is decorated with murals depicting scenes from Wagner's operas. Ludwig loved music and he loved reading: both of these castles feature upholstered reading nooks. This is the famous fairy tale castle that inspired Cinderella's place at Disneyworld. We missed out on the "money shot" photo of the castle because of clouds, but there were still plenty of photo opps on the property:
Sunday, September 28, 2008
So I'm a changed person. Tours are now an official kind of travel, one of my five pillars of beauty in life. Now it is my task to sort through my just-under-one-thousand photos and sort out all of the castles, churches, towns, cities, markets, and statues we saw!
Friday, September 12, 2008
If you're way too serious for any of this silly pirate stuff, I would recommend Pirate Wisdom: Lessons in Navigating the High Seas of Your Organization by Elisa S Robyn, Ph.D. and Cindy L. Miles, Ph.D. (iUniverse, 2006). I heard one of the authors speak at a conference thinking this would be a fun topic to finish off the busy day of listening. How surprised was I when this pirate metaphor turned out to be a well-thought-out philosophy on getting things done at work (or at school or any organization) without going through the usual procedures. Consider the sailboat that needs to sail into the wind. Sailing directly into the wind would require too much energy and would take too long (folly), but a zigzag pattern would eventually get the sailboat there more efficiently. This is called tacking upwind. Imagine approaching a challenge at work this way, and you've got the idea of Pirate Wisdom. You'd eventually get to the solution even if you didn't go directly from point A to point B.