Gratiana’s Author’s Note:
I hope that you don’t think I’m being derivative—of myself. Ha! But, I sometimes find that my comments to other people’s blog posts sparks an interesting essay out of me that I want to explore further with you. And so it was with Judiang’s Confessions of A Watcher blog yesterday. For the last several Mondays, Judiang has had a guest blogger—mutual friend Fitzg—who has posted some very interesting Richard Armitage related essays on leather, the Byronic hero, and now on Fine Dining. In “Fitzg’s Journeys: Fine Dining with Richard Armitage” (found here at http://www.jagrant.com/watcher/fitzgs-journeys-fine-dining-with-richard-armitage/ ) essay post, she asks her readers to describe their ideal dining experience with Richard Armitage. So, my essay below describing my fantasy dining experience with Mr. Armitage are my two comments to Fitzg’s Watcher blog post that I’ve added some pictures to, and such. I had already provided some of the venue and music web links in my comments to Fitzg. I am a thorough girl. Ha!
A note. I urge you to visit Judiang’s Watcher blog and read Fitzg’s essay on Fine dining. Fitzg does a lovely job with it–I provided the link above. A general link to Judiang’s Watcher blog—which I visit and enjoy reading daily–appears to the right of your screen in my blog roll (and is also found here at www.jagrant.com/watcher ). Then if you feel moved to describe your own ideal dining experience with Richard Armitage, please comment over on Judiang’s blog with the Fitzg Fine Dining post. That way Fitzg is collecting people’s ideas as they respond to her essay post. However, if you want to also comment with your thoughts here on my blog, or make general comments here, by all means comment here as well.
I enjoy hearing what you as my readers think about my blog post essays. And your comments let me know in a concrete way that people are reading my blog. Oh, the site stats tell me that people read my essays. But, when I actually receive a comment from someone about one of my essays, it makes my readers seem more real to me. And, sometimes, you indirectly give me ideas for future posts. So, I greatly thank those of you who have made comments so far on my various essays. And my readers make great comments and contributions to the discussion that enhance—or even surpass–what I was trying to say. So, if you have read some of my essay posts here in my little blog, but you haven’t commented yet, please consider leaving a comment on one of my essays if the spirit moves you to do so. I think I have the settings such that you may make a comment on any of my essay posts up to two weeks after it is published here. Though I think that I will just go ahead and open that up to allow comments at any time after an essay post is published. Since Word Press fixed my blog’s technical glitches last week, it is now easier for people to find my blog and they might have missed out reading and commenting on my essay posts earlier.
Just so you know, Part 1 of my fantasy Fine Dining essay comment to Fitzg that I’ve expanded below took the form of my written acceptance to Richard Armitage to dine with him—with me describing my fantasy dining experience that I had “arranged” for Richard and I. So, my letter essay is somewhat formal in its writing and tone—as etiquette suggests be the form in gracious eras past. And, I have italicized these “letters” since they would be hand written, of course. The location for our dining experience—Ewing Manor (http://ewingmanor.illinoisstate.edu/manor/)—is a gracious estate that I have visited many many times over the years for meetings, weddings, Shakespeare festival plays, and such. Part 2 of my fantasy Fine Dining essay is a follow up letter to Mr. Armitage that is in a more “familiar” writing style. It refers to how we will enhance our dining experience by our sharing music with each other, etc. I hope you enjoy my essay post today and that you might be able to put yourself into the story.
Cheers! Gratiana ;->
P.S. All pictures of Ewing Manor are courtesy of Illinois State University (http://ewingmanor.illinoisstate.edu/manor/).
P.S. The picture of Mr. Armitage is from the July 2011 Captain America Premiere in NYC, courtesy of RANet (www.richardarmitagenet.com)
P.S. The picture of me is from 22 years ago at my wedding rehearsal dinner. Hey, this is my blog and my fantasy. Ha!
Gratiana Lovelace Fine Dining with Richard Armitage — Part I: Our Evening Plans
Richard Crispin Armitage
Dear Mr. Armitage,
I gratefully accept your kindly solicitous invitation to dine with you on Friday next. I so appreciate your thoughtfulness in making time to spend with me during your stopover in our fair city. It has been some time since I’ve enjoyed an evening out–and rarer still, spending an evening out with someone whom I feel that I know so well, yet not at all, you. So I look forward to getting to know you.
I hope that you will like the venue that I’ve chosen–Ewing Manor (http://ewingmanor.illinoisstate.edu/manor/). Ewing Manor is a large castle like home in the Channel-Normal style built in the 1929 by Hazel Buck Ewing. She later donated Ewing Manor to Illinois State University to be used as a cultural center. And various conferences and special events occur there throughout the year. Its grounds also contain an outdoor theatre venue where Illinois State University’s Shakespeare Festival is held every summer (left).
We two shall be dining privately in the formal dining room (right) of Ewing Manor via a catered meal of chicken crepes with portabello mushrooms, salad with vinaigrette dress, baked cinnamon apples, and chocolate and raspberry cheesecake for dessert with our coffees. After dinner, I thought that we might repair to the living room and enjoy music on the grand piano. Though my playing is very rusty, I have been practicing again of late since I knew that I would be seeing you. Or, we might peruse the hundreds of books in the adjacent burnished woods panelled library (left) with floor to ceiling bookshelves. Then after that, we might take a stroll on the lovely grounds (right) of Ewing Manor. They have recently relandscaped the grounds installing more formal gardens to the south front of the large property through a sizable endowment labeled Genevieve Green Gardens. The ivy arbors have not completely overgrown the steel arched walkway (left). So, we shall be able to see the stars and moon if it is a clear night. Even if it is a cloudy night, I shall at least be able to see one star–you.
I await your attendance upon me at 7:00pm on Friday evening next–whereupon, we will make our way to Ewing Manor for a lovely evening of fine dining, amidst fine furnishings, and with newly found friends in each other.
I remain your faithful and devoted admirer and new friend, Gratiana Lovelace
Gratiana Lovelace Fine Dining with Richard Armitage — Part 2: Music
I was grateful to receive your note stating that you were looking forward to our evening dining together at Ewing Manor (the grand central staircase is pictured right). I am looking forward to it as well. I should, perhaps, expand upon our planned after dinner music activities for you since you are a musician yourself and you might wish to bring your cello or flute with you. I promise you that our sharing our somewhat rusty musical talents with each other will be in good fun since neither of us claim to be Franz List (a great pianist as well as a composer) or Yo Yo Ma (the amazing cellist). We will just be two friends enjoying music together–with no critics allowed. Ha!
Let me give you a bit of background about my own musical training to set you at your ease. Growing up, I took piano lessons for 10 years–although about five of those years were spent with a lovely lady whom I had “outgrown” musically, but I didn’t realize that she didn’t challenge me. When I did realize I needed to be more challenged musically, I switched mentors and for two years focused on the classics with great joy–with a man whom we addressed as Mr. A, as it happens. Ha! Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, Telemann, DeBussy and others–I love and play them all! Though, my skills are not concert worthy by any stretch of the imagination. My final recital piece in high school was Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca–memorized and with all of the repeats. Though I did not play Mozart’s music as well as this–my hands are small and fingers short–here is a sampling of that lovely music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geER3iQDO5k
After dinner, we will move to Ewing Manor’s comfortable and spacious living room (right) which contains a baby grand piano for us to use and enjoy.
For our first musical selection of the evening after dinner, I would begin with Robert Schumann’s lilting Scenes from Childhood, as played quite nicely by someone else in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3vLj8_T7fE
Then, I might seque into a somewhat more romantic piece, Beethoven’s Fur Elise–as illustrated here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mVW8tgGY_w&feature=related
Of course I welcome any cello selections that you might wish to play for our mutual enjoyment. No pressure! Ha! Here is an example of Yo Yo Ma playing one of my favorite musical selections, the Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1:
And, we might close the musical portion of our evening by playing some show tunes that we could sing to together. One of my favorite songs is the love song from Lancelot to Queen Guinivere in the timeless musical Camelot– If Ever I Would Leave You–because it describes a faithfulness to one’s beloved so complete that you must surely know how sincerely I admire you. And your deep velvet baritone voice will no doubt capture the essence of Lancelot most stirringly. Here is a link to that lovely song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsSnNk0CSh0
And then, you and I might take a stroll in the moonlight through the lovely and gracious formal gardens of Ewing Manor, speaking to each other from our hearts as newly acquainted and dear friends. Because I am married to a wonderful man who is the love of my life, I offer you my friendship–now and always. And my fervent wish for you, Richard, is for you to find the love of your life someday and be happy in your personal life as I am in mine. And you can be assured that the confidences we will share are only for we, two–to be cherished in my heart forever as a poignant memory of a dear friend met in you.
I close this note to you referencing two other favorite musical selections of mine that are about moonlight–because moonlight will illuminate our hearts and souls during the brief time that we will share together in friendship:
1) here is a link to DeBussy’s lilting, Clair de Lune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LXl4y6D-QI
2) here is a link to Beethoven’s stirring Moonlight Sonata: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQVeaIHWWck&feature=related
I look forward to our evening together. So, until we meet on Friday next, I remain your faithful and devoted friend.