Hilltop Diary, Dec. 29, 2020

Welcome to my last blog of 2020. Wishing you a Happy New Year! We had a lovely Christmas Eve and Day, with my wife Crystal’s parents visiting at our house. It was actually the very first year of our 10 ½ year marriage that we were in our own home on Christmas Day. It’s always been traveling to other family homes. We had a simple meal of Honey-baked Ham and Turkey slices with vegetables on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day evening a great Italian pasta and salad Crystal made from the cookbook of Patsy’s Italian restaurant in New York, one of my favorite places to eat out. As usual we received all kinds of sweets from friends and students, for me to try and resist while trying to diet over the holidays. Those will remain as a storehouse to eat gradually over the winter, as a chipmunk has its storehouse of acorns.

Nutcracker TeaOn Saturday, Dec. 26, we stayed overnight at Nashville’s historic (and posh) Hermitage Hotel, with a fancy dinner of lobster tails and then breakfast at their Capitol Grille. (A highlight for me was my beloved seared foie gras as an appetizer, which is hard to find at restaurants, and a bit of a splurge to afford, but thanks to BMI for some nice guaranteed minimum royalties.) We could walk a block from there to Mass on Sunday at St. Mary downtown, then back to the hotel for their “Nutcracker High Tea” at 2 p.m. Here is a photo of Crystal enjoying the elegant table, as a live pianist played music from the Nutcracker ballet. (Never fear, we wore masks except while eating and posing for this photo.)

Back home to the kitties on Sunday late afternoon, and some days of rest before hitting the normal work days again. We have been blessed during this time through New Year’s Eve and Day to have some friends over and to be the guest of others (max of four people together) and enjoy their company and some tasty meals.

I am preparing what might be my next Epoch Times article for January with a “new start” theme, including an exploration of what it’s like for classical composers to have premieres of their new works, complete with horrible (and funny) reviews some of the great composers received upon the premieres of their now-classic, great symphonies. Will the “premiere” of 2021 turn out better or worse than our initial “reviews”? Only time will tell.

It’s back to editing parts for the last movement of my new symphony, which I had put off for a while to do various chores around the house that had been long awaited. It should not take more than a couple of weeks to finish that up, and then I begin composing music for our planned ballet, which I have discussed in previous entries. I’ve also done a demo recording and proposal for a radio show, hosted by yours truly, about the appreciation of classical music, designed for the Catholic radio networks. I’ll write more here about that, if it pans out.

My favorite Christmas Cracker joke: 

Question:  What to you do when you see a spaceman?

Answer: You park in it, man!

20201229_115627Finally, this year I made my famous “Bourbon Balls”, aka “Kentucky Colonels”, after not making them the last couple of years. In general, you blend powdered sugar with butter, chopped pecans, unsweetened cocoa powder, powder from processed Vanilla Wafers, and plenty of bourbon. Form them into ping-pong size balls, chill, then dip into melted dark chocolate and chill again. If you want the specifics, write to me or post a comment. A couple of these is pretty much equal to drinking a shot of bourbon, because you don’t cook them, but with a chocolate bonus. My grandmother’s old recipe calls for creating dipping chocolate by blending paraffin wax with the chocolate (yuck), but now they sell it, of course. And it calls for spearing the balls with a “hat pin” to dip them! Not too many of those lying around, these days, though Crystal, lover of British hats, naturally does own one. See ya’ in 2021!

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