Friday, December 12, 2014

The Wolf Pack is in Florida

N. Apollo Blvd & Sarno Rd
Melbourne, FL
GPS: 28.121442, -080.638535

Today we went to Melbourne, FL (about 45 miles south of The Great Outdoors RV Park) to visit with Burt and Dori Staman at the christmas tree lot they operate between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We met Burt and Dori during our 2014 summer workamping job at Yogi at Shangri La Campground in Milton, PA. We resolved to meet up while we were all in Florida this winter.

Last summer Burt gave me the address. I used Google Maps to pinpoint the intersection and get the GPS coordinates which I included in my contact list as part of the address. When we reached the intersection there was no mistaking their location. Wolf Pack (the name of their Fifth Wheel) is always easy to spot.

Wolf Pack is always a prominent landmark

Operating a tree lot is a 24/7 job, but most of the traffic comes in the afternoon and evening. The job at night is to protect the inventory. Their dog Pepe is in charge of that. They advised us to come in the morning and join them for an early lunch. We did.

About noon, customers start showing up

Hauling the tree to the car
is part of the job

The tree lot is owned by a North Carolina tree grower and the supply of trees is refreshed every couple days.

Tree prices range from $20 to $350. $350!!!!! Yep – and they sell. People with really big houses and businesses such as auto dealers and banks buy the big trees for their lobby and don't even blink at the price.

The Stamans operate the tree lot from Thanksgiving to Christmas eve. They spend January to March at their home in Lake Placid, FL before heading back to Yogi at Shangri La Campground in Milton, PA for their summer job.

Dori made a delicious chili for lunch. Michelle brought a really good cherry filled Rugula pastry that she picked up at the Farmers Market in The Villages yesterday. Since Burt and Dori were "on duty" we ate outside amid the aroma of freshly cut Christmas trees. It was cold.

Chili, Cornbread, Rugula, and good company
makes a cold damp day feel just fine

It was good to see Burt and Dori again. We had a nice visit.

Dori, Burt, Michelle
A thorn between two roses

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Wonderful Christmas Tradition

Fayetteville, NC

Do something that will make thousands of people stand up and cheer ...
... 100 years after you are dead

Every Christmas I realize that Peter Tchaikovsky is one of very few people to achieve such stature. He is hands down my favorite composer. No one else even comes close.

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 -- 1893) was a Russian composer whose works included symphonies, concertos, operas, ballets, chamber music, and a choral setting of the Russian Orthodox Divine Liturgy. Some of these are among the most popular theatrical music in the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally Wikipedia. His piano concertos and ballet music are known world wide. Even those who don't know his name or his work recognize the tune to such pieces as the 1812 Overture and of course the Nutcracker.

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in the U.S. Major American ballet companies generate around 40 percent of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker. Amateur ballet companies and dance studios do the production as a fund raiser and as their major event in celebration of the Christmas season.Wikipedia

More than a few youngsters begin dance lessons after marveling at the ballet's swirling snowflakes and flowers, mischievous mice and regal Sugar Plum Fairy. Generations of dancers have emerged from the ranks of these students to play the ballet's children and then, as professionals, principal and character roles. Kids who will never become dancers will carry that music in their brain for the rest of their life.

Our annual reconnect with this wonderful music happens in Fayetteville, NC where our granddaughter's ballet studio joins with two other studios to become The Dance Theatre of Fayetteville to put on their annual performance. We have this event carved in stone on our calendar and happily look forward to the visit and her performance each year. Ava, our granddaughter, has been at this for four years – each year growing in the number and complexity of the roles she dances.

This was an important year for Ava. She reached the age, size, weight, and strength to get her "Toe Shoes". I did not realize how big a deal this is in the world of ballet. She is very proud and we could see an obvious increase in motivation as the year progressed.

Getting toe shoes is important

All the kids start as one of the children guests at the party

Some start as one of the mice

This year Ava had four parts

Act 1, Scene I, Christmas Party

Act 1, Scene VII - the Battle Between the Nutcracker & the Mouse King

Act2, Scene X - the Magic Castle on Candy Mountain

Act2, Scene XII - Divertissement, Mother Ginger & the Clowns

Our daughter Tricia, Ava's mom, has been a closet Thespian (pronounce carefully and check the definition) since high school. She has been supporting this annual production as Costume Mistress (Chief Seamstress) for the last couple years. When she told the boss (Miss Leslie) that Mother Ginger needed a new costume, Miss Leslie agreed to buy it if Tricia would wear it. Oh my, a star is born!

The Costume Mistress morphs into Mother Ginger

Peter does it again. All three performances got standing applause during the curtain call.

and this year the Costume Mistress got special recognition.

After the performance was time for staged photos ...

... some fooling around ...

Performance tensions evaporate and everyone relaxes

... and parental pride.

Dad's job is to be proud. Tony does it well.

Thank you Mr. Tchaikovsky for another chance to stand up and cheer.