Happy Old Maid’s Day

Nora Bertogg, Soprano, Swedish Opera, The Old Maid and the Thief, Photo by Dersu Huber, 2017.
Nora Bertogg, Soprano, Swedish Opera, The Old Maid and the Thief, Photo by Dersu Huber, 2017.

Old Maid’s Day is a joyous occasion for spinsters around the world to get together and rejoice in one-another’s claim to the merry, carefree lifestyle and the complete independence which come with singlehood. And it should be, because marriage, childbearing and child rearing are enough to gradually rid a woman of all the spare time, money and vitality she may have had in those early years when she was as averse to men’s advances as a fox is to a porcupine sting.

I love the summation above which appears on the Days of the Year website concerning Old Maid’s Day.

I am not quite an Old Maid. I did marry but was widowed very early on and still young. I was not able to have children so it was a miracle I ever married at all. Most men disappeared when they found out I was not a “breeder”. My husband however couldn’t have cared less. He loved me and was determined to marry me.

I took my husband’s death very, very hard and grieved quietly for many years. Losing my husband after such a short time seemed particularly unfair as I had a tragic childhood and thought at long last I was going to have a happy life. Despite it all, I was a jolly child. I evolved into a jolly adult but grief still overtakes me now and again as one might reasonably expect.

Then I woke up one day and for all intents and purposes, the grief, pain, regrets and angst of the past were over. I suddenly wanted to start living life fully again. And live it to the full I have. Sometimes it takes time to resolve certain fears to the degree we feel prepared enough to go out there and take risks again.

I have reinvented myself career wise numerous times, moved countries whenever I felt like it and have basically done whatever I dreamed up I wanted to do. Some call me lucky. I suppose I am.

It is art and music — especially Opera — that has given me the safe and beautiful environments I require where I can feel all sort of emotions which I might otherwise bury. For this I am eternally grateful. I adore the people who make it possible — but not in a starstruck way. They are like family to me. We share something quite intimate, meaningful and unique even if we are never to meet.

My life would certainly not be the same without the animals that have coursed their way through it. I am so grateful to the wonderful horses and cats I have given homes to over the decades. They have given me someone to love who loved me back and never hurt me, and  opportunities to “parent” that I would otherwise not have had. Sidenote: Today also happens to be “Hug Your Cat Day”, but I do that everyday.

They say old maids are cranky. Perhaps some are. However, my guess it has more to do with the old part than the maiden part.

As for me, I am not as cantankerous as my great hero Giuseppe Verdi but I am working on it. It’s definitely something to aspire to. And great fun!

Here is a quote regarding women Verdi wrote in an 1857 letter: “Horses are like women. They have to please the man who owns them”. Many, too many, men are vigorously nodding their heads in agreement right now. See what you escaped Old Maids!

Oh, by the way, I go by Mrs Farrell because that is what businessmen have called me over the years and it kind of stuck and become a part of my day-to-day identify — not because I am married. Sigh!

Love you.

The Old Maid and the Thief is a radio opera in one act by Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti. The work uses an English language libretto by the composer which tells a twisted tale of morals and evil womanly power. Menotti writes in the libretto “The devil couldn’t do what a woman can — make a thief out of an honest man.”  

Jeez Menotti! Tell us how you really feel.

Updated: Correction of 1857 Verdi quote.


Dream bass René Pape

Image from RenePape.com.
Image from RenePape.com.

I love deep melodic voices. Operatic voices. A beefy baritone sends me. A thunderous bass? I am gone.

René Pape is my dream bass. He sings. I dissolve into a puddle. Pape can sing anything, but his repertoire consists mainly of Verdi (my numero uno) with a huge helping of Wagner.

Pape by the way is pronounced Pah-peh. I had to learn that the hard way, per usual. No one can butcher the pronunciation of a name quite like I can and Opera offers me continuous opportunities.

I know a lot of people stay away from Opera because of things like that, all the different languages and seemingly unpronounceable names. They are all pronounceable. You just have to learn how. Like anything else in life.

So forget about that. You will learn as you go. Enjoy the journey. The snobs — I haven’t met that many actually — they had to begin just like anyone else. Who the hell cares anyway? It hasn’t held me back!

Let’s take a look at René Pape in action. Then most importantly of all — listen!


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German operatic bass Rene Pape performs at a concert marking the 90th birth anniversary of famed soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, at the Bolshoi Theatre. Artyom Korotayev/TASS (Photo by Artyom Korotayev\TASS via Getty Images)

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Pape as Filippo performs during the general rehearsal of the opera ‘Don Carlo’ at the State Opera in Vienna on June 12, 2012. The first performance of ‘Don Carlo’ at the State Opera was held on June 16, 2012. AFP PHOTO / DIETER NAGL (Photo credit should read DIETER NAGL/AFP/GettyImages)

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Pape (as ‘King Marke’) performs during the final dress rehearsal prior to the premiere of the Metropolitan Opera/Mariusz Trelinski production of ‘Tristan und Isolde’ (by Richard Wagner) at Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera House, New York, New York, September 22, 2016. The performance was a co-production of the Metropolitan Opera, Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera, Festival Hall Baden-Baden, and China National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA). (Photo by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)

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Pape as Filippo performs during the general rehearsal of the opera ‘Don Carlo’ at the State Opera in Vienna on June 12, 2012. The first performance of ‘Don Carlo’ at the State Opera was held on June 16, 2012. AFP PHOTO / DIETER NAGL (Photo credit should read DIETER NAGL/AFP/GettyImages)

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Pape as Mephistopheles with artists of the company in the Royal Ballet’s production of Charles-Francois Gounod’s ‘Faust’ directed by David McVicar and conducted by Evelino Pido at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London. (Photo by robbie jack/Corbis via Getty Images)


René Pape, Don Carlo, Giuseppe Verdi

Spanish King Philip II (Pape) has fallen in love with his son Don Carlo’s intended bride Elizabeth, the product of a typical politically motivated match, and marries her himself estranging himself forever from his son who had also fallen deeply in love with her. Elizabeth, who fell deeply in love too, is desolate and never forgets her true love.

Fast forward to the last Act. The King is old and lonely, and as he ponders all he has done he realizes that the innocent bride he robbed his son of has never cared for him, has never loved him.

Ella giammai m’amò (she never loved me).

Sorrowfully he seeks the counsel of the Grand Inquisitor (Eric Halfvarson). Yes. You guessed it. The Grand Inquisitor’s response will be a deadly one.

Visit this link for the full cast of characters and synopsis at The Met website.

René Pape = Das beste!

Favourite Hat at the Royal Wedding

Hello my friends. Hope this finds you happy and well.

I cannot believe how far behind I am. This is my personal blog and it takes a recurring backseat to the other blogs I run and manage for my businesses and clients. Oh well. What’s a girl to do? Smile!

Remember these two?

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave from the West Door of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. WPA Pool—Getty Images.
Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave from the West Door of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. WPA Pool—Getty Images.

Thinking back to the royal wedding the hat that lingers in thought remains the one worn by Lady Kitty Spencer. Lady Kitty’s hat was made by royal milliner Philip Treacy whose work was everywhere.

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That dress! Dolce & Gabanna. How divine.

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Lady Kitty Spencer is the daughter of Charles, 9th Earl Spencer, the younger brother of the late Princess of Wales, and therefore Diana’s niece.

My oh my those Spencers are a pretty bunch. Good breeding always shows, and the Spencers are very well bred indeed. Some say even better bred than the current English royal family so-called including The Queen herself.

Going to publish this and then blog a few royal wedding photos.

P.S. Never got around to posting wedding photos. Heaven knows there are enough about, and you have seen all you care to! Love ya. Bye.

Met Gala 2018

Rhiannon at The Met Gala 2018. James McCarthy / Getty Images.
Rhiannon at The Met Gala 2018 wearing Maison Margiela Artisinal. Image: James McCarthy / Getty Images.

I know I am late on this. It was several days ago. The Met Gala that is.

I have nothing unique or clever to say so will quote others who pretty much echo my sentiments. I didn’t expect to see much I really liked and I didn’t, though there were a few entertaining attempts. Except for Rhiannon, pictured above and below. That woman can rock anything. I mean anything. 

Before we see a head-to-toe shot of Rhiannon, here is what it is about in case you’ve not heard of The Met Gala or seen the movie “The Devil Wears Prada”.

HIGHSNOBIETY quoting Lia McGarrigle of In Style writes:

The Met Gala is the most prestigious fashion event of the year. Its exclusive guest list is filled with “IT” models, designers and industry big-hitters, all personally approved by Vogue Editor-in-Chef Anna Wintour.

Ms Wintour please retire.

The event was full of people I could care less about. I also found the theme just…. yuck.

Oh, yes. The theme. It was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” which yielded a host of fashion so-called which was anything but heavenly. The few beautiful dresses there we have seen done already elsewhere.

Surprisingly I am not alone in these sentiments. I found the comments to the article more amusing than the article itself which was predictably unctuous.

My favourite two are as follows.

jtrevino79 writes:

Every year it’s the same overexposed group of people that make TMZ news daily over their twitter comments. they’re that type of celebrity. The guest list doesn’t change. Year after year it’s still Rihanna, 3 Kardashians, Perry, Gomez, Lively, a bunch of rappers, and Jaden Smith doing something embarrassing that he mistakes as performance art. Remember when this event had the coolest names from their industry? Now, it’s just the east coast version of the Grammys for the ones that didn’t win. Beyonce skipped out just like she skipped out on NYC before everyone else realized the scene was starting to suck.

Brockton writes:

This is a shameful display of cultural appropriation and a complete mockery of a religious institution. None of these people would be caught dead mocking traditional garments found in Islam or Judaism like this. Disgusting.

Not sure about the latter. I think these people would be willing to mock anything even God Himself. Um, did we just do that? Well, kind of.

Here’s the full length Rhiannon. I love it for the hat of course. Who doesn’t want a jewel encrusted Bishop’s Mitre? I know I would. But I am probably not tall enough to carry it off.

Rhiannon at The Met Gala 2018 wearing Maison Margiela Artisinal. Full length view. Image: Variety/Rex/Shutterstock.
Rhiannon at The Met Gala 2018 wearing Maison Margiela Artisinal. Full length view. Image: Variety/Rex/Shutterstock.

Oh, you must see this. Jared as Jesus. From a post lovingly and appropriately entitled, “Jared Leto Runs to the Corner for a Pack of Smokes and Powerball Ticket“, by Tom + Lorenzo. Click image to see more. Do you think that’s his mom’s blouse?

Jared Leto channels his inner Jesus. Photo Credit: INSTARImages.
Jared Leto channels his inner Jesus. Photo Credit: INSTARImages. Click to see more at Tom + Lorenzo.

Updated 7:25 am.


A lesson in rejection and betrayal

Solar System. Google research result. Credit not given.

I feel a fool. An utter fool.

I have been betrayed by a person who has been a nearest and dearest friend, someone I have known for decades.

There is no point wondering how and why this person would do such a thing. Perhaps I am still too stunned to wonder, and it is just as inexplicable to the perpetrator as it is to me.

I am not angry. Just sad. I do not feel stupid. Just stupified.

How odd that this event brings to mind an encounter long ago and far away.

I had a meeting with a man arranged by a great old friend who sought out and delighted in finding unlikely people with unusual ideas. Always fun, sometimes exciting, but never dangerous.

This man happened to be a defrocked Catholic priest. Do they even do that any more — “defrock” priests?

This former priest had taken a little detour from religious avocations to astrology at which he had become highly knowledgeable and adept. He was going to do our astrological charts.

When I met him, he told me that through his study of the planets and deep meditations he had learned many fascinating ideas, some of which he related to me.

How I wish I had a better memory of that meeting. I remember only a fragment of what he said, but what I do is eerily poignant.

The essence of what he said is this.

As we reincarnate our souls travel from planet to planet. Each planet teaches us a particular life lesson. The life lesson we learn about on Earth is rejection and betrayal.

Rejection and betrayal. Think about it. Fascinating.

Well, I am too mired in feelings of rejection and betrayal at the moment to feel much fascination.

However, it certainly encourages me to never, ever make anyone feel in any way, shape or form even an inkling of the way I do at the moment, which I suppose is the point of the “exercise”. Perhaps.

My feelings of rejection and betrayal will pass in due course. Or at least the sting of them will begin to lessen over time. They typically do. For most of us.

In the meantime, boy do I wish I could remember what the other planets are out there to teach us. Hmmm?

Ten Commandments of Hats

Two men wearing fedoras. Source not cited.
Two men wearing fedoras. Source not cited.

Hats are fabulous and impact an individual’s look like few other accoutrements.

You often notice a hat before you notice a person. What else can you say that about?

Whether you wear an expensive bespoke hat or a ready made off the shelf, it will last you a lifetime if you treat it right. And why shouldn’t you?

Look at this wonderful thing I found at the Headwear Directory website.

Ten Hat Commandments

I. Never handle your hat or anyone else’s by the crown. It leaves fingerprints and breaks down the fabric. Always pick up a hat by the brim, and adjust it on your head by holding the front and back of the brim.

II. The safest place to keep your hat is on your head.

III. Anytime you take it off, set it upside down on its crown. Otherwise it’ll lose its shape and all your luck will spill out too.

IV. Never leave your hat in a hot car, closet, or anywhere else that gets hot. It’ll shrink.

V. If you get caught in the rain and your hat gets wet, let it dry out slowly. Same reason as above.

VI. Never put on anybody else’s hat, and don’t take it kindly if they put on yours.

VII. If you’re handling somebody their hat, give it to them upside down, back towards you. Otherwise, if they don’t look, they’re apt to put their hat on backwards. This is bad luck and you’d look bad too.

VIII. When you meet a woman, tip your hat to her.

IX. Take your hat off if you sit down at a table to eat. Leave it on if you’re at the counter.

X. Once a week wipe your hat with a sponge, and when it starts to get loaded with trail dust, have it blocked and cleaned by a professional.

Source: Headwear Directory