Tag Archives: Sous Chef

They Say The Neon Lights Are Bright – HAMILTON


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Hamilton

A funny thing happened on a trip to London… Sous Chef discover that she, The Cinnamon Girl and I could see Hamilton for a terrifically reasonable price, so reasonable, in fact, that we thought we might be being scammed as we purchased the tickets. They were ridiculously cheaper than the ones we had been looking at in the states (in New York, LA and Denver where we had opportunities, though not the cash to see the show). Adding to our suspicion was that these reasonable priced tickets were in Stall A – the first row – at the Victoria Palace Theater in the West End. It all seemed too good to be true and we did not trust our fortune until we were actually at the theater with tickets in hand.

Long story short:

So there we were, in London, seeing Hamilton for the first time from the front row.

It will not be any of our last time to see Hamilton, of that I can assure you.

Truth be told, The Cinnamon Girl was well ahead of the curve on this Alexander Hamilton business. As an AP US History teacher, she has been praising the story of Hamilton for as long as I have known her, well before the musical or Ron Chernow’s book. She was on top of this Hamilton thing way, way back and her students who pay attention have ever known who her favorite founding father is. Let us give credit where credit is due.

So I was very interested in what she would think of the show, of its staging and music, sure, but, more importantly, of its history. Would it capture the man and his story? According to The Cinnamon Girl, it did. Absolutely. While she pointed out to us the ways the show changed the story, skimped on the details and did an end-run around the facts, she could find very little problematic in the alterations.

And, as for the staging, the music, the pace and the book, well, just put us down with the millions of others who think Hamilton is an amazing, uplifting and remarkable experience. Put us down with those who want to see it again and again.

The particulars of the performance we saw: the cast was terrific and I was very taken by Giles Terera as Aaron Burr. Remember, we were in the front row and we could see every expression, every bit of sweat on the brow. Terera’s performance seemed absolutely effortless. His moves powerful, his voice insistent, his presence towering. He is, for the, the indelible memory of the show and that may not speak entirely well for Jamael Westman’s Hamilton himself, but he was terrific, too. I simply thought Terera was the outstanding part of an outstanding cast (Rachel An Go as Eliza Hamilton and Michael Jibson as King George deserve singling out, too).

We saw a wonderful performance and I will forever be moved by the idea that we got to see this quintessential American show in London! What a delight.

As for the show itself, the show that transcends the cast that puts it on and where it is performed, let us salute the genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man behind Hamilton and its first star. What an amazing production he has conceived. What a testament to what America is and what it can be. What a brilliant show.

I believe (and I am likely not the first to suggest this – and I am assuming the staging of the show does not vary overly from venue-to-venue) that the brilliance of the show and the message it conveys can be summed up in one moment: the curtain call. As we rose to our feet in standing ovation for the show, I noted with some surprise that the cast was going to be recognized as one. They were going to be recognized together. They were going to be applauded as a community. We were not going to single out Washington or Jefferson or Angelica or even Hamilton himself. Rather, we were going to put our hands together – wildly – for this overtly and intentionally diverse cast of women and men who had so well entertained and informed us for the past three hours.

Diverse. Strong. Together.

Thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda for this show, for making something as complex as the American Experiment so simple, for entertaining and informing and for making our spirits rise up.

You surely did not waste your shot.

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Filed under Broadway, Cinnamon Girl, Family, Hamilton, Music, Sous Chef, The Cinnamon Girl

19 Years of Sous Chef… Photo Essay


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Sous Chef is 19 years old today.

It may seem sentimental, but I thank God for every one of those 6,935 days she has been alive. Each of those days is a blessing. Each of those days is a gift. Each of those days is a grace.

She is a wonderful young woman, as likely to be volunteering her time with a marginalized population as she is to be having a raucous time with her many good friends.

That I am reluctant to see her grow up and beyond The Cinnamon Girl and me is cliched and obvious.

That I am more proud than words can express of her is, I hope, equally obvious.

That she is one of the shining lights of my life and one of the best people I have ever known is gospel truth.

Happiest of birthdays, Sweetheart. Many, many, many happy returns.

 

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The Passing of My Mother-in-Law


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In the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 6, my mother-in-law, Dora Thornton Durham, passed away in her sleep.

She was 84 years old.

Dora was a character in every sense of the word and her larger-than-life personality was in complete and delightful contrast to almost incomprehensibly small frame. Dora suffered from COPD and the disease took its toll on her, to be sure, but the twinkle in her eye and the edge in her wit remained until the end.

Dora and LBC

Dora Thornton Durham and Little Black Cat, April 2015.

Compassionate, intelligent and engaged, Dora had a saying for almost any occasion and many of them were wise, indeed. She was a life-long educator (her most important student being HJ jr who she taught to read) who valued knowledge and character development and she shared many, many stories about the children she had taught throughout her career. Dora married a man whom she first dated because she thought he was Don Meredith, believed in flying saucers and tried to always see the positive in negative situations. She became more liberal in her thought and politics the older she got. She was funny as hell.

There are so many things about my mother-in-law I will miss, but I will always associate Dora with how much she loved animals.

As she lay in our home in during the last days of her life, Dora was not alone. The incredible Cinnamon Girl cared for her night and day, ably assisted by first year nursing student Sous ChefHJ jr and I were around as well, and her son was by her side, too.

But I am not talking about the company she had from any of us. I am talking about our animals. We have cats and a dog and Dora loved them very, very much.

Dora shared many lovely “last words” with us when it was her time to go, but perhaps none were as precious as two directed at our animals.

As she was losing strength one afternoon, Dora saw our dog and lit up with a bright “Hi!” The wagging of the dog’s tail spoke for everyone.

Later that same day, our lovely Siamese cat Lulu crawled onto Dora’s bed. Dora looked down and said to her “soft.”

At that point, these words were an effort for her to form and they must have felt important to her.

I will cherish many memories of Dora, but, in particular, I’ll hold on to these two.

I did not have the luck to know Dora for a very long time , but I am blessed to have had 10 years with her.

I love her and I will miss her.

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Happy Birth”Day” – Sous Chef at 18


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Sous Chef turns 18 today.

18.

She is the last of the brood to reach “adulthood” but, in a great many ways, seems more adult than her brothers, her step mother or me.

Composed, compassionate and cute, Sous Chef has been, for The Cinnamon Girl and me, an almost perfect daughter. I don’t use that term careless or without consideration. As the youngest of 3 kids packed together in rapid succession, Sous Chef was the last to leave for college and The Cinnamon Girl and I had the amazing opportunity last year to spend Sous Chef’s senior year with her. Here’s what I learned:

  • Sous Chef is one of the hardest working people I know.
  • Sous Chef is quick, witty and funny.
  • Sous Chef is one of the smartest kids I’ve known (and I’ve known plenty.)
  • Sous Chef is beautiful in every way that term applies.
  • Sous Chef is consideration and kind.
  • Sous Chef is one of the greatest blessing I’ve ever been given.

Here’s another truth of Sous Chef – she is someone I’d like to have as a friend. We’re stuck with family, to be sure, but I would choose Sous Chef as someone to spend time in any circumstance.

 

I know she’s destined for great things as an adult.

I miss her now that she’s at school.

I love her, deeply.

Happy 18th, Sous Chef!

She got the pun in the title of this post even if you didn’t!

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Off to College (3 in 5 Daze) Part I: Sous Chef


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Board

Over the course of the next five days, The Cinnamon Girl and I will bid farewell to all 3 kids as they head off to college – within a 120 hour period! I love how small the world is and know that we’ll all be able to remain in contact far more easily and more closely than I was in contact with my family when I went off to school more than a few years back.

Still, it will be strange to have no kids in the house… strange and sad? Strange and wonderful? Strange and… we don’t know. It’s just a new chapter for us all.

What we do know is that Sous Chef and I get in the car early this morning to make the drive from Denver to St. Louis. She is off to St. Louis University to begin her college journey.

Board K

She is the first of our kids to leave for school and the first of her friend group to leave for school. Though she doesn’t know it, she is also incredibly ready for the transition. I hope that I am!

Hard to believe it’s time, but it is and she’s ready – more ready than she knows.

Kateri Portrait

From this…

SLU Photo

… to this in the blink of an eye.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…

 

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Yesterday, Sous Chef Walked Onto A New Road


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Yesterday, the youngest child in our household walked across The Stage after her full name (fours words in all) was called. We clapped. We laughed. We cried. We know things are changing, but we were overcome with pride.

Yesterday, before she walked across The Stage, the youngest child in our household gave the Valedictory Address during her graduation ceremony to her class and their families. She was cool and collected, warm and welcoming, funny and fascinating. She was everything her classmates know her to be – inclusive and loving. She gave a great speech.

Yesterday, before she gave the Valedictory Address, the youngest child in our household was volunteering her time at a local hospital, weeks and months after The Cinnamon Girl advised her that she could stop. She didn’t need the service hours. She did need more time in her schedule. She didn’t listen and continued volunteering because she didn’t want to let anyone down.

Yesterday, before she finally gave up volunteering, the youngest child in our household was in her bedroom hanging with “The Squad,” her inseparable group of friends with whom she laughed, learned and loved during her high school years. What a lovely group of young women they are – friends of Sous Chef who’ve become our friends.

Yesterday, before she was hanging with “The Squad,” the youngest child in our household was falling down – sans grace – in Belize. Ask her about it! Sous Chef is a closet klutz. It’s one of her most endearing traits.

Yesterday, before she was falling down – sans grace – in Belize,” the youngest child in our household was doing homework. At 7:30 at night. On a Friday. The Cinnamon Girl and I (and Stretch and HJ jr) are so impressed by her amazing work ethic and its results – straight As in school, lessons learner, knowledge gained. She is an amazing student, like one of the best I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen more than a few.

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Yesterday, before she was doing homework, the youngest child in our household was trying out for softball. Why is this a big deal? Because she gave softball her best effort and came up short, bravely learned from the experience and moved on. I have rarely been as impressed by her as I was in the moments after her very short high school softball career.

Yesterday, before she was trying out for softball, the youngest child in our household was delivering the Continuation Speech at her matriculation from middle school. For an eighth grader, she was funny and confident and irreverent. She remains those things today.

Yesterday, before she was delivering the Continuation Speech, the youngest child in our household was learning to cook at The Cinnamon Girl’s side. Sous Chef could drop the “Sous” from her name. She makes amazing food and will be able to wow and impress as she sets up the “little apartment” she and The Cinnamon Girl have discussed, many, many years from now.

Yesterday, before she was learning to cook, the youngest child in our household was excelling in Spanish acquisition, at a dual language elementary school. She has retained her command of Spanish and will study it in college and make it part of her life.

Yesterday, before she was excelling in Spanish acquisition, the youngest child in our household was smiling and giggling, laughing with her brothers, lightening our lives.

Yesterday, before she was smiling and giggling, the youngest child in our household was a fixture – her brothers had left for school and The Cinnamon Girl and I could look forward to seeing her at home, to hearing about her day, to listening to her make us a laugh with a joke or a story, to watching her grow into the amazing and confident young woman she has become.

And, soon, we will have to do all of that remotely. Soon our conversations will be electronic, completed via text or over FaceTime. Soon, she will take her full ride scholarship to college, her possessions and herself out of state.

Soon she will be far away.

But, we have Yesterday, we still have a summer of Todays and, Sous Chef, YOU have tomorrow. The Cinnamon Girl and I will always be a part of your shining Tomorrow.

Yesterday, before she looked into the shining sun of her tomorrow, the youngest child in our household was sitting on my knee…

2015-11-19 07.18.01

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A Mother’s Day With Cinnamon


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My wonderful wife, The Cinnamon Girl, is one of the most talented storytellers I know. This is not an exaggeration shared through love colored glasses, it is a fact. I have seen her take over a dinner party with this ability, making people laugh until they cry. I have watched her take over many a classroom with it, inspiring students and engaging them with her wit and smarts. Frankly, I love when she tells stories because she’s so good at it.

She fascinates and entertains our children. That’s another statement of fact and it’s also not something that I am exaggerating. She treats them as equals, as young adults and they more than appreciate that. They like being entertained by her, by her stories and her offhanded irreverence. They understand she has important things to say to them. They feel her love for them.

We have three wonderful kids, and that’s primarily because of what a wonderful mother she is. She has helped them grow and helped them find their places in the world. What a gift she is to them.

I simply couldn’t ask for a better partner in every way.

I couldn’t ask for our children to have a better mother.

I couldn’t ask for a better wife.

Happy Mother’s Day, Cinnamon Girl!

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