So… 2023!

A nice New Year’s weekend, with both social events and downtime, wrapping up the holidays.

The work week was nice and quiet. I got a good performance review. But things are going to be very busy starting today, ugh. Also found out right at the end of the week that Citibank had finally created the new estate account, so I can finally do things like deposit some outstanding checks and pay off C’s credit cards, hurrah (not lots of money on either side of this, no biggie). Friday night, my across-the-hall neighbor put together a dinner at the Queensboro for neighbors, and that was a lot of fun.

Saturday was a bit of a logistical challenge. Morning was free (I did laundry), but I’d been invited to a New Year’s Eve party in Manhattan, and bitter experience has taught me that it’s tough getting home from such a party after midnight, even if you’re nowhere near Times Square. Subways are slow and infrequent and filled with drunk revelers, cabs may not be available or refuse to pick you up, and it’s just uncertain. I’d even thought about maybe staying overnight at a hotel or AirBnB or such, but the prices, as you can imagine, were ludicrous. I decided to just play it by ear and suck it up, even if I had to walk home.

I also had bought a ticket to a matinee of NYGASP’s “HMS Pinafore”, and had to figure out how to vamp for a few hours between the matinee and the party. Luckily, I had a scathingly brilliant idea, researched it, and solved that problem ahead of time.

NYGASP is our local professional G&S group. There are very few professional G&S groups at all, particularly in the US, and we’re lucky to have this one. I’ve never worked with them as a performer, but I’ve worked with a lot of their people many times and we’re all friendly colleagues. They do good work, and even though Pinafore is one of their most frequent productions (they tour with it a lot), I’d never seen it. Anyway, the matinee was wonderful! Very well cast, everyone knew what they were doing. It’s great to see professionals who not only get the material, but know how to have fun with it. I like Act I better than Act II – Act II had endless Bell Trio encores that got pretty old pretty fast, and there was a whole silly interpolated comic scene after that which didn’t do a lot for me. But overall, excellent.

At intermission, I ran into fellow hornist Amanda, who I’d just played a concert with in October, and her daughter, but we didn’t get to talk more than a minute. And I didn’t get to see my buddies in the cast or orchestra afterward, because I was on a tight schedule.

I’d figured out that if I jumped in a cab right after the show, I could go to a particular movie theater within walking distance of the party and just make a showing of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”. And that worked out beautifully – I did get a cab right away, and I did get there in time, and I did have a chance to buy an absurdly-overpriced bag of trail mix and a bottle of water, and got seated right at the end of the previews.

I’d really loved the first Black Panther, and was prepared to enjoy this one too, which I did. I have no investment in the Marvel Universe, but I loved watching incredibly beautiful talented actresses (and actors) doing their thing (Angela Bassett particularly, but they were all great). The story mostly hung together, the visuals were great, and the violence wasn’t graphic. Fun side bits with the few Caucasions – Richard Schiff in the first scene, and Martin Freeman (good American accent!) and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, almost unrecognizable. Anyway, I had a great time, I managed to not need a bio-break through the whole looooong movie, and it let out a half hour before the party started, perfect.

I happened to be just a block or so from the building where Charles lived when we met, so after picking up some stuff to bring to the party, I slogged through the rain down to 85th and West End and paid homage to the spot where I got my first kiss from him. Looked up, the little balcony on his 4th floor walkup had Christmas lights on it, awww. Sent yet another mental burst of love out into the universe, hoping he’d get it, and headed on up the street.

The party was almost all Blue Hill Troupers, and was kind of a ‘widows and orphans’ party. Several of us, including the host, had lost our spouses this year, and there were others who’d lost them recently enough. So a tinge of sadness, but the food was yummy and the apartment was beautiful and the company delightful. I decided, though, to solve my ‘how do I get home’ problem by leaving at 11:00, and sure enough, got a cab on Broadway and was home before midnight. Watched the ball drop on TV, texting about bad NYE TV concerts with my niece, and went to sleep at 12:30. Happy New Year!

New Years Day, my buddy Renée and I were headed over to my friend Susan’s house to celebrate her finally selling her parents’ house in South Jersey after three years of struggle. The morning was mine, so I decided to attempt an eggless banana bread using the leftover bananas from Christmas, and also make another batch of chicken soup to freeze. Did that, it all came out great. The banana bread in particular was as simple as it could possibly be – bananas, flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon juice – and it came out fantastic. Will have to keep that recipe. (I love eggs, but Susan can’t eat them, and I wanted to give the larger loaf to her.)

Headed over there about 1:00 with the banana bread and two cold bottles of bubbly. We had a terrific afternoon. Susan had put together cheese fondue (first) with not only bread, but sausage, pickles, broccoli, little onions, etc – and that was fantastic. Then, afterward, chocolate fondue with cookies, pretzels, fruit – and plenty of booze in the chocolate. Much wine and bubbly was consumed, and much conversation was had.

Around sunset, we headed out for a walk, to look at the sky and also at the neighborhood Christmas lights (it’s a really nice neighborhood, in suburban Flushing). Then finished up with coffee and banana bread before Renée and I headed home. Delightful!

I’d set aside time on Monday to do nothing, but it still felt busy. I started the day with a lovely walk to the cemetery. Visited with C, then had my traditional breakfast at the Jackson Hole diner across the street. Breakfast was great, but the service was pretty off – I never got my toast until I asked for it again, and they cleared my plates (and tried to clear my coffee cup until I asked for more) and so I needed to ask for another knife for the butter when the toast showed up. Ah well. Stopped by Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond to see if they had any ornament boxes, but they didn’t, which is fine – I’ll probably order them online.

Spent the afternoon putzing around, solving some tech problems with my phone and with my computer’s DVD drive, and then had a zoom call with the Ruddigore stage director to discuss casting, very exciting. More on that later. And I had a nice night of news and knitting and TV watching (saw most of the first half of Glass Onion, which is a hoot). In an effort to drop weight, I’m now transitioning into low-carbing (meaning mostly that I’m finishing off the Xmas food in a moderate-carb fashion, and then will low-carb for real once, say, the lasagna is gone) and also not drinking, at least at home. So not having my evening wine and/or bourbon is not-fun, but not a big deal either.

And now… back to work! Ugh. Enjoy the week!

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