Ramblings 0427


Daffodil bloom nears

I had a call last week from Margaret Boyden, a Grange friend; she is secretary of White Rock Grange in Gorham. She inquired about the magnificent display of daffodils at Saco’s Laurel Hill Cemetery, which I report on each spring.

I then called Joan Ashley of Falmouth, who has a Saco friend who keeps her posted on the display – but Joan hasn’t heard from her yet this month. I then decided to call the cemetery. The lady in the office there reported that, on April 20, the daffodils were out, but not in full bloom. I checked my last year’s Ramblings and found that they were in full bloom on May 7. Margaret Boyden’s garden group was planning a visit on Tuesday, April 26. If it is not too rainy then, that might be a good viewing time. Daffodils in many front yards in our area are in full bloom now.

The Laurel Hill Cemetery, on Beach Street, about a mile from Route 1, is a popular place in late April, early May each year; we know many in the Portland area who have that location on their must-see list each Spring.

Slimmer singer still ‘terrific’

We read in the April 6 New York Times that the leading soprano opera singer, Deborah Voigt, was Amelia in the Metropolitan Opera’s recent production of Verdi’s “Ballo in Maschera.” You may recall that her appearance in London’s Royal Opera was cancelled last year, as she was considered too heavy to sing the lead in the production there of “Ariadne auf Naxos.” She was replaced by German soprano Anne Schwanewilma, who as the music critic of that opera wrote, “looked slinky in her swirling black dress with its skinny little straps.”

There were many comments from the June 2004 audience in London – “Why not just put Ms. Voigt in a sumptuous evening gown and let her stay?”, and one lady said she had seen quite a few productions with enormous women and small men, but it had never bothered her because “the music and singing are what matter in opera.”

Now Bernard Holland, the New York Times music critic, tells us the latest, which I had not read elsewhere. He wrote, “It’s over. The not-at-all fat lady sang.”

“The news item from her Monday night’s performance was Deborah Voigt as Amelia, reduced to a relatively waiflike state by surgical intervention. Weight loss is becoming something of a crusade in this country, and it was nice to see that grand opera is doing its part.”

“How does Ms. Voigt sound now that there is less of her? Absolutely terrific.”

However, I doubt if Ms. Voigt would sing at a production at London’s Royal Opera again, even if urged to do so. She is still the outstanding soprano singer she always has been.

Cross and flowers an attractive sight

Behind Trinity Lutheran Church’s parking lot, on the banking above the railroad tracks there, facing William Clarke Drive, you will notice a recent attraction, a large cross on the lawn and flowers planted around it. Right now the daffodils are in full bloom, and soon there will be tulips. It was a big job to clear out the bamboo growing there, but church members have made it into an attractive sight.

If you’ve waited for the light at Larrabee Road, look up the hill as you start along William Clarke Drive, and you’ll notice this nice arrangement.

Protestant Hospital Ministry’s Program April 30.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at Woodfords Congregational Church, the Protestant Hospital Ministry will have a program of music, open to the public. Bud Sawyer is to be the Emcee and Harold Stover, the organist. There will be hymn singing, and instrumentalists will also entertain.

The group helps out, visiting patients and their families at Maine Medical Center. Donations will be welcome.

The Westbrook Historical Society’s Meeting Room Is Open On Saturday Mornings.

Each Saturday morning, from 8 to noon, the many exhibit cases and displays at Westbrook Historical Society’s second-floor meeting room in the Dunn Street Legion Hall are open for viewing. Several members volunteer their time there. Last Saturday members present were Ellie Saunders, Suzan Norton, Diane Dyer, John Gordon and Nancy Curran. I stopped by, and was pleased to meet a young man, John Morgan, a 2001 graduate of Westbrook High School, now attending the University of Southern Maine, majoring in history. He has recently volunteered to help out at the society, and is keeping busy with Diane Dyer’s help. He is enjoying it.

Third-grade students in some Westbrook schools are to be at the Society this week, April 27 and 28, to see the exhibits, including clothing, toys, and tools, all of historical interest. Youngsters who attended last spring were eager, and full of questions. It is really an educational experience for them.

Letter from DaPonte Quartet admirers

I was pleased to receive a letter last week from Evelyn Orman. She and her husband Cliff are newcomers to Westbrook, but have followed the DaPonte String Quartet for five years and have a CD of their playing the piece of which I wrote admiringly, String Quartet No. 1 by Erwin Schulhoff (who died in a Nazi concentration camp). Evelyn graciously invites me to come hear it. She says DaPonte will give its full April 10 program in Carnegie Hall.


This recipe is from “Prize Recipes of West Baldwin,” printed by the West Baldwin Grange. It was submitted by Iola Greenwood.

Carrot Cake

2 cups sugar

1-1/3 cups cooking oil

4 eggs

3 cups carrots, grated fine

3 cups flour

2 tsps. baking powder

2 tsps. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup chopped walnuts

Combine ingredients. Bake in 350 degree oven in a 9×13-inch pan, about 1 hour. A 1/2 cup raisins can be added if desired.

Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting:

One 3-oz. pkg. Cream cheese

1 Tbls. milk

2-1/2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Blend cream cheese and milk. Add sugar gradually, blending it in well. Add vanilla and mix again.