Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Music and Memorial Day Weekend

Hot song.

I just can't get enough of sweet ol' gospel songs. 

One of my favorite folk songs.

Tonight I just want to curl up alone under a big pile of blankets and listen to some old-timey music, especially if it’s sweet and sad or subtley sexy. Never mind that it’s too hot in my place to do such a thing. I am not sure why I’m feeling this way. Maybe I’m just coming down off my awesome weekend.

The beautiful image of Princess Diana used to advertise the exhibition, Diana: A Celebration.

I spent Thursday night hanging out with my friend Chalanna. She made a lovely dinner of tomato soup (it was kind of like warm gazpacho) and grilled shrimp, with rolls on the side. It was so yummy! We were supposed to have a craft night, but I managed to forget my supplies. I ended up watching her work, while we chatted. We topped off the night with Fudgesicles and a trip to the grocery store. I spent Friday night hanging out with my parents, and on Saturday I assisted with a class put on by the program for adults with developmental disabilities I work for. We visited Union Station in Kansas City to see the exhibition, Diana: A Celebration, which presented an intimate portrait of Princess Diana. The exhibition focused on Diana’s family background, her childhood, her wedding day, her funeral, her dresses and her good works. In that order. The exhibition was very interesting, and it made Diana, as she preferred to be called, a person, not just an untouchable icon. It was very simply and sleekly curated. 

Newlyweds wave to the crowd from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Photo credit: Tim Graham.

Princess Diana's wedding slippers. I just love the heart-shaped rosettes and the gold detailing.
When we entered the exhibition, the first thing we saw was her tiara. In the next room, we gawked at her family heirlooms and read about the strong, community-involved women in her family. I wanted to trade the costume jewelry I was wearing for the real deal right then and there. We were then entertained by the antics of a young Diana captured in home videos. We also saw some of the belongings that turned her on as a youngster. For example, she owned a collection of miniature animals, some realistic and some cartoonish, which she kept on a little white shelf. After that, we were treated to footage of her wedding and were allowed to be in the presence of her wedding dress. OH, MY. It was gorgeous. The wedding shoes alone were encrusted with 150 pearls and 500 sequins; they brought to mind glass slippers! The clutch and umbrella were equally decked out. And the dress, the dress was amazing to see! It was truly something straight out of a fairytale. It had a 25-foot long train and was a soft ivory color. It symbolized the height of fantasy. The next room brought us back to reality. It featured footage of Princess Diana’s funeral, the printed words of her brother’s eulogy, and the lyrics to Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind.” The song was also playing in the room. The atmosphere and the video really touched everyone who passed through, as did the library’s worth of condolence books on display. You could view Diana’s wedding dress with wonder, but you could not continue on the tour and see her other dresses without remembering Diana died far too young. She was only 36. Her dresses were gorgeous, and from them you could see her transformation from an insecure young girl who was trying to impress the royal family to a truly sophisticated and independent woman. The exhibition ended with a room dedicated to Diana’s charity work. Before attending this exhibit, I had no idea how dedicated Diana was to teaching others. I think this must have influenced the way in which she approached her charitable projects. Diana is best-known for having helped people afflicted by leprosy, HIV and AIDS, and homelessness.

My students were in love with the fairytale aspects of Diana’s life, interested in her home videos, and extremely saddened by the footage of her funeral. They liked Diana’s couture dresses the best. The cool thing about this class was that it was open to women only. While I love our guys, too, this made the whole thing intimate and sisterly. I LOVED it. After the exhibition, we returned to the Program Director’s office building and had a tea party in one of the banquet rooms. It was so much fun! I contributed homemade shortbread cookies and cucumber sandwiches. We also had a variety of teas, crumpets with lemon curd, lemon cookies, fruit trifle, fresh fruit, delicious soft gingersnaps, and more. We gave away door prizes for the highest heels, the hairstyle most resembling Diana’s ‘do, the most interesting hat, etc. We had a magnificent time, and, as I have said before, I truly value my students and am so honored to have the opportunity to work with them.

Movie poster featuring "The Evil Thing."

This Land Rover lacks brakes and a hood. The bumbling scientist is adorable.
After such an exciting day, I chilled out for a little while, and I then headed over to my boyfriend McGee’s house. We just took it easy all evening. Sometimes I like to go out, but I really enjoyed making dinner and relaxing together on Saturday. Neither of us felt like leaving the house, but there was very little food in the place. I ended up whipping up some cheese quesadillas and bean dip from a bag of shredded cheese, the only two tortillas in the fridge, the last of a jar of salsa, a can of red beans, and a tub of light sour cream. I was pretty proud of myself (so proud, in fact, this is the second time I’ve mentioned this meal on my blog). Even McGee said it was good, considering there was nothing in the house. Oh, and that bean dip is one of my favorite foods in the world. Rather than making refried beans, my mom often just mashes red beans into a dish, tops them with taco sauce (we prefer Spanish Gardens, a Kansas City brand) and shredded cheese, and heats it up. It’s so good and much healthier than refried beans. We ate and then watched The Gods Must Be Crazy. The movie has an old Land Rover in it, and classic Land Rovers are McGee’s latest vehicular fascination. 

Mom blowing out the candles on her cake.
I returned to my parents’ house on Sunday night. My sister Lisa and I spent the night, so we could be there in the morning, as it was my mom’s birthday. After opening her gifts, my mom, dad, sister and brother Brad met up with my Aunt Judy and our cousins Vicki and Raymond for lunch at Lone Star Steakhouse. I ordered grilled salmon, a baked sweet potato and a salad with really good basil balsamic vinaigrette. My mom and my aunt both received free birthday treats. Let me just say, most places give really poor free desserts, but Lone Star gave us their brownie sundaes. That was much appreciated. We actually felt like we were getting a special treat (because, of course, my mom and aunt shared!). Afterward, we went home for Angel Food cake with lemon glaze and strawberry ice cream. My mom’s favorite cake is still Angel Food, just as it was 40 years ago.

Phew! I had a lot crammed into one weekend. If you have a chance to see the Diana exhibition, I recommend you go, if only for her wedding dress. It's open until June 12 in Kansas City, and I'm not sure when or where the exhibition will be displayed next. By the way, it was really cool to have Diana's dress in Kansas City during the most recent Royal Wedding!

Last year I wrote a nice history of Memorial Day, but I was unable to find it. Maybe next year I will do a more traditional holiday post. 

What did you do over your long weekend? Who do you think about on Memorial Day? What songs do you listen to when you're feeling a little blue?
Alison :)

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