16 December 2010

9 Days Before Christmas

My last day of work before a nice break until January 3!

Listened to the two new Revels albums that James bought me for my birthday. "Christmas Through the Years" by the Portland Revels was mostly medieval holy music. "Welcome Yule!" is the anniversary album, with familiar favorites like "Lord of the Dance" as well as new offerings. Later I listened to some Rick Steves' Christmas podcasts, but most of them were repeats of shows I'd already heard. Also listened to a "BBC History Magazine" Christmas podcast which was an A-Z historical quiz. Supposedly there is a Christmas issue out; I need to go look for it!

The one fly in the ointment was not being able to finish some small modifications. One wouldn't complete and for the other I didn't have the correct information.

Tonight when James came home we stopped by Wendy's for supper-on-the-fly and drove into Buckhead to the Atlanta History Center to attend one of the two Candlelight Nights. We skipped Tuesday's figuring the weather would be better tonight; boy, talk about a miscalculation. It was just foggy when we left home, but as we threaded our way down West Paces Ferry Road it began to drizzle, then rain. And it rained off and on all night, so the nice candlelit paths were mostly extinguished. :-(

When we got there we listened to an a capella do-wop group, ten older men singing Christmas carols, including "The Twelve Days of Christmas" intertwined with "Carol of the Bells," a lively do-wop "Jingle Bells," and even "In the Still of the Night." Then we wandered toward the back where a group of one man and several women were playing traditional instruments like dulcimers and autoharps. The sound of one single dulcimer playing a plaintive song like "Silent Night" can be one of the most haunting sounds in the world.

They had some little snacks downstairs, cookies, pecan tartlets, and brownie bites, so we had a couple of those and then emerged to a foggy, damp world. We walked down the hill, crossing the little brook that runs through the property, but sorely missing the doused candles, on the way to the Swan House, which was the home of the Inmans from the 1920s. (One lone candle, sheltered under some vines, remained burning outside the house.) Outside it looked like a fog-shrouded London night; inside it was warm and welcoming, minimally and tastefully decorated with small red packages in pyramids or red irises, and one tree at the foot of the circular main staircase and another in the upper hall, the latter in silver and gold and decorated with glass swans.

From the Swan House we walked to the Tullie-Smith farmhouse, which is from the 1800s. They had docents dressed in period clothing, a gentleman in the dining room talking about the family, a woman in hoop skirts, and two younger women, one making tea cloths on a loom, and one spinning on a large spinning wheel. They could only have electric candles, so the rooms were quite dark.

Then we walked out to the separate kitchen (kitchens were a separate building back in those days, due to the heat in summer and the threat of fire) where they had been baking a pie and gingerbread in cast-iron spiders with hot coals on top (the gingerbread looked delicious, but they were not allowed to give samples), and then to the blacksmith shop, where someone was still at work at the forge, and finally back to the history center for some hot cocoa. As we sipped the cocoa we listened to the folk instrument group play "Jingle Bells."

And then it was almost time for them to close down, so we left and came home through the residential streets of Buckhead and also those nearer home to check out Christmas light displays.

Watched the last two days worth of Ellen and then a segment on Jimmy Fallon's show where Ben Stiller and Jimmy played charades against Ben's parents, one of my favorite comedy acts, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. Between the latter, Jimmy nearly hit the floor laughing. He always looks like he's having such fun.

No comments: