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Annie in Austin
Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.
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Monday, December 01, 2008

"Can I Recover Christmas?" ~ Our New Song

Christmas Tree midsection,Annieinaustin The unplanted bulbs and falling leaves will keep for another day!
Last year I wrote a Christmas song for Roots In Austin, using my power as the author to break up the character Caroline's romance shortly before a Christmas season began. That may not have been kind of me, but the breakup let Caroline sing a holiday song as the approach of Christmas reminded her of what's been lost rather than what she expected.
The song was recently finished and I think it will work well for her lovelorn situation in the play. But undertones in the lyrics told me they had deeper meanings, for other situations. Over this long Thanksgiving weekend Philo and I added photos and turned the song into a video for our Station Kaefka on YouTube. So far the reception for our latest musical child has been very kind - thank you to all who have already watched it. To the rest of you - get out your handkerchiefs!

"Can I Recover Christmas" music & lyrics copyrighted. If the screen won't play, try this Link to YouTube.

Although "Can I Recover Christmas?" wasn't ready last year, another of our copyrighted songs was finished by the beginning of December 2007. It's a happy song about the lovely annual tradition of Spinning Under the Tree of Lights at Zilker Park in Austin. This year the tree will be lit at 6 PM on Sunday December 7th, with the rest of the Trail of Lights festival beginning on Sunday December 14th, running nightly through December 23rd. The Trail hours are 7 PM to 10 PM.
Zilker Tree of Lights,Annieinaustin
A few days ago I had a conversation with Laura Esparza from the Cultural Affairs Division of the Austin Parks Department. Laura told me that the Trail of Lights festival will be more environmentally friendly this year. The change over to LED lights is in progress and food service now emphasizes recycling. She also noted that the power for the lights comes from wind farms. I loved the tree and like having another reason to think Austin is cool! You can go to the Austin Parks Department if you'd like to find out more about Spinning under the Tree, or Walking the Trail of Lights. Now here's an encore of our Spinning Under the Tree song to get you in the mood. Either click the screen or try this link to YouTube.

The safe and general antidote against sorrow is employment. Samuel Johnson, The Rambler


  1. Hi Annie, thanks for getting us into the mood property. Austin is for sure way cool.


  2. This is a sad song Annie but I have felt it many times. I have recovered Christmas. Maybe your song will help some recover Christmas by letting them know what they feel is real. Christmas isn't always a happy time.

  3. I think your song touches a chord in all of us, who at one time or another are sad at Christmas time. It's true--as the Beatles said--"All the lonely people. Where do they all come from?"

    Thanks for balancing it with Spinning--very cute!

    Have a Merry Christmas!

  4. A sad song, yes, but for me the pictures were uplifting!

  5. Good morning Annie,

    A sad song with wonderful photos~~it makes me wish my family was a photo taking one when we were kids. Then I got to spin under the tree! That is exactly the right kind of tree for the kid in all of us...


  6. I liked what I could make out, I had my speakers up all the way so either I need new ones or my hearing is going. The melody did convey sadness. You know me, the family pictures were fantastic and enjoyable whether I can hear or not!

  7. Yes, I couldn't pick out all the lyrics, either. But I enjoyed the photos. Picked out a couple of people that seemed to resemble you; knew they were family!

  8. Boohoo, snif, BwwwwwwwrrrrppFFFFFtt (blows hanky)that was remarkable and truly sad, Annie. Although the pics were uplifting and fun! It was nice to hear your sweet voice again.

  9. Luckily, I could make out all the lyrics...although they were sad through most of the songs. I hope the story continues to a happy ending of one kind or another but in the meantime this song spoke to the sadness many people feel this time of year. I loved seeing the photos too...it made me want to do some sort of a Christmas collage of my own.

  10. I love your videos & songs, they're so wonderful! I had to laugh during the sad Christmas song because of the photo of the kid with the Santa wearing a creepy mask. My grandma had a Santa costume with the same mask & the photo brought it all back.
    Spinning beneath the lights is a great tradition. It looks like a lot of fun.

  11. I'm so sorry, Annie, that your still-recent loss has robbed you of feelings of contentment and joy as the season begins. Your family pictures speak of happier times, and I trust you will find them again, with time.

  12. My thanks on behalf of Austin, Frances!

    Thank you for understanding, Lisa at Greenbow - this has been a rough year for many people among our friends and family. The paradox is that writing sad songs can make the composer feel better.

    Hello Morning Glories in Round Rock - I'm glad you commented and also glad you enjoyed Spinning. A quick peek at your blog told me you have had an early, furry gift!

    I'm glad you like the photos, Entangled. And hope it didn't make you personally sad!

    Hello dear Gail - I wish you had more photos, too. I have very few original photos but my extended family has taken to scanning and sharing photo files. It's like the kid's book Stone Soup - no one has enough to fill the bowl, but everyone has something to add.

    This is very upsetting, Apple and Kathy! I don't know if this is happening to other people or if it's just in New York State?
    I'm related by blood to some of them...by love to others.

    Glad you trusted me and had the hanky ready, Yolanda Elizabet. Making the recording and video was a pretty emotional experience for us.

    The singer knows she'll recover eventually, Leslie! I love sad Christmas songs like "Blue Christmas", but didn't want Caroline to just yearn for the guy and wail. I wanted her to be more of an Elinor Dashwood woman, one who would keep moving forward no matter how torn up inside.

    You've made my day, Mr McGregor's Daughter- thank you so much! When I first saw that Santa photo the mask thing creeped me out! It may have been taken at a Mother's Club party in the fifties.

    Thanks for the sympathy, Pam/Digging- and your hope that not only the character but the composer can recover some day.

    Thanks for all the comments!

    If someone is having a problem with the audio, please let me know and maybe we can find help.


  13. I can empathize with the character's and composer's feelings ... I'm having a few of those feelings myself this year. Here's to finding moments of Christmas joy, however fleeting. I believe those are how we find our way back.

  14. I can see how the stage might be set for the character Caroline to sing this song... dark and shadowing with a soft spotlight on her, while in the background, family and friends both past and present bring in various Christmas decorations... a tree, lights, ornaments, wreath, presents... then a fireplace comes into focus with a warm fire and by the end of the song, the stage is lit in a soft light, bespeaking how one might have their home lit for Christmas eve night. Toward the end of the song, Caroline moves to a nearby chair and sits down amongst it all, perhaps not overjoyed, but certainly realizing that even though gone, family and friends are always present in our hearts and minds, especially during the holidays.

    Thanks for sharing this song with us, it is so full of meaning and emotion.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  15. Dear Annie,

    Thank you for both songs.

    The first reminded me so much of the first Christmas after my father passed away when I was 10. It was very difficult, but as your song implied, if we act the part, we might start to feel the spirit of Christmas again, even when we're very sad inside.

    The Spinning Song is great fun, of course. I must take Mr. Q to do The Spin under the Zilker Park Tree this year, just so we can say we've done it. :-)

    Let me know if I can help to make your Christmas Merrier, my friend.


  16. I'm in agreement with Apple and Kathy - I couldn't make out the lyrics either, Annie, and was disappointed about that. Perhaps you could write out the words and post them. Are there a lot? Maybe it would be too much trouble if there are.
    Nevertheless, I enjoyed the photos and also noticed some family resemblance in a few faces.
    Spinning under the Zilker Park Christmas tree sounds like a fun tradition!

  17. I hope you find those moments, Cindy from Katy - and find your way back to Christmas joy.

    Please write a play someday, Carol and include a scene like that, but it won't work for Caroline.

    Although I swiped Caroline's song and used her words for the video, in my play her character is not sad about her family. She's longing for one guy who is gone. Rather than sit in a chair, Caroline soon considers moving and starting over in Austin. Then she gets to sing her next song: "Can I be a Transplantable Rose? Can I be a moveable flower?"
    This Christmas song is not at the end of the play... it's near the beginning!

    Dawn, thank you so much. I can't imagine losing a parent at such a tender age as 10 - the way you've come through is inspiring. And I sure hope you get down to Zilker Park!

    Call me suspicious, Kerri, but isn't it a little weird that the 3 people who can't hear the video live in upper New York State?

    Philo wants to know if this happens on all YouTube videos or just ours? He also suggested that sometimes you have to reset the YouTube volume control that is displayed at bottom right of the YouTube player. He found out that even when the computer's volume settings are turned up, if that little slide has moved down, it overrides your other controls. Any chance that would help?

    Thanks for commenting!


  18. Annie, I had a little trouble hearing the lyrics to the first song, too, but it did help to watch it through YouTube and adjust the volume setting there. (And you know I'm in Illinois, not in New York State--I think it's my computer that's the problem, though.)

    I loved your collage of photos for this video. Christmas is a time of happy memories, but also a sense of loss for all those who are no longer here to share the holiday with us. I hope that the Christmas spirit fills you with more gladness than sadness this year, Annie.

  19. Life is full of ups and downs. Glad you left us with the ups! Spinning was more fun when I was a child. Now I just feel nauseous! LOL :)

  20. Hi Annie.
    We really enjoyed your "Can I Recover Christmas" song and picture show here at the ESP.
    What a great way to capture Christmas, and family past and present.
    This is a really good song.
    Keep them coming!

  21. Annie, that was very poignant. I think everyone feels that way a bit. I'm glad I have the munchkins to bring the spirit of Christmas back into my heart.

    I loved the photos, and it was a wee bit difficult to hear some of the lyrics, but I heard most of them.

  22. Hi Annie,
    I swear I left a comment here the other night, hmmm, Blogger strikes again, I guess.

    Anyway, I really like this song, so much that I gave you a bit of publicity over at my place the other night. :-) (Ok, so I was in a strangely referential mood then....) Keep us posted on the evolution of your work in progress! I have so many unstarted writing projects, but work keeps me so busy that lately I can barely keep up with the blog. Now, if I had the energy and 48 hr days, I might get a lot more done, lol.

    Hope you don't take this the wrong way, but when I listen to your songs, I always think you'd have made (or still make) a great torch song singer ... yes, that was intended as a compliment.

    Again, not to make any implicit comparisons, but did you know that Marianne Faithfull has a new album of "standards" recently released? The French radio station I listen to online all the time has been playing it heavily in rotation for a while and they even interviewed her live one night (her French isn't so hot, lol).

    Wasn't Pushing Daisies wonderful this week? I'm already getting teary eyed knowing that there are only 5 more episodes to come.... *sob, sob* Very clever how they got Dwight Dixon out of the picture ... but Dad sticking around? Ouch.

  23. Sorry the words didn't come through, Rose - and don't really know why some people can hear it so loudly and others can't.
    In the last few years our extended family has lost many members of "the greatest generation" - it does hit hard at Christmas.

    When I took that video Philo was holding me up, Layanee - I'd rather watch someone else do the spinning!

    Thank you so much ESP. I'm glad you liked the song. What I need right now is to find someone who'd like to play banjo or mandolin for the song called "Fig! Fig! Fig!"

    Hi Jo - always glad to see you, and sometimes am jealous your munchkins live where you can see them without a 2200 plane ride or 1200 car drive.
    We'd better get this sound thing corrected before the next recording session!

    It's become apparent lately that Twitter can disappear words too, IVG, not just Blogger!
    I was quite thrilled to see that you'd embedded the video on your blog since I was there. I haven't been reading many blogs this week - it's not only holiday season, but we're still in drought and now the leaves are falling!

    My husband thinks I could have been a real singer, too - have some old voice tapes from the seventies that still sound pretty good. I didn't know that Marianne Faithfull's new album was already released, but since she's in my cohort group a comparison is not only flattering but relevant. I always loved her singing with the Chieftains on their "Long Black Veil" album - a favorite. Did you happen to catch Marianne F in Marie Antoinette playing the mother to Kirsten Dunst's Marie?
    And Pushing Daisies will be so missed! I hope the wonderful actors show up in other things, even though this show is leaving.

    Thanks to all who have listened and commented-


  24. Annie, this is IVG's evil twin here, :-)

    Glad you took the Marianne reference the right way, because I hesitated to say that, given some people's immediate aversion to her work. No, I haven't seen Marie Antoinette, but if you say it's good, I'll record it next time I see it show up. I have to confess, I'm not particularly impressed with Sophia Coppola's films, despite the pedigree. And that one got such mediocre reviews, I've avoided it. Maybe her brioche is worth seeing after all? I hesitate to say it, but I thought Lost in Translation was insufferable dreck, and I generally admire Bill Murray's work, but that one was too contrived for me. (Broken Flowers was much more to my tastes, lol.)

    Do you ever listen to Elizabeth Welch's work? Just another example of a woman d'une certaine âge who still could make great music!

  25. Both songs were very nice. The second one being a good upbeat one to kind of counter the melancholy of the first. Very nice. Spinning seems like fun!

  26. Annie, I think that this one is your best yet. Most of us have had a Christmas like that before and can feel sympathy in the lyrics. Thanks for sharing your talents with us.~~Dee

  27. Hello Jeff - wait a minute! Please don't think that asking you if you've seen a movie means I'm saying it's good. Even not-good movies can be enjoyed if certain moments speak to you, or if it takes you somewhere you've never been and if you like the actors. I have no idea what your reaction would be to Marie Antoinette.
    So should I even tell you that Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day is set in London right before WW2 begins, stars Frances McDormand, a soundtrack of thirties music, lovely sets and costumes and Lee Pace plays a nightclub piano player who gets to sing a little?

    Thanks for listening, Tina - and I agree the two songs balance each other. Pam/Digging and her family went spinning over the weekend and posted about how much fun it was.

    Thank you very much, Dee - I liked learning to add a bass line and percussion...old dog keeps trying to learn something.
    Yes, most people have some years when a song about loss speaks to them - only way to avoid the pain of loss is to never allow love in the first place - can't do that, can we?

    Thank you from


  28. Thanks for sharing your sweet sweet voice with us! Very touching song, I'm gonna go blog now:)

  29. I just feel terribly behind! This new song, and your 'Roots in Austin' blog (which is great) - I am just impressed. First, the song is quite sad, and for obvious reasons (loss) - it felt quite pertinent as I listened. I really liked the lyrics - and the images associated were haunting and begs one to ask a number of questions about 'who' and 'where' and the like. It really is a beautiful song Annie.

  30. Annie, "Can I Recover Christmas" hit home. Feeling your words and song, I needed a Kleenex...

    Thank you. It's a lovely voice to hear. I'm not alone...

    Merry Christmas to you and those you love.



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