Wednesday, June 28, 2006

One good cause among many

A coworker of mine has a daughter with leukemia. This will be their third year walking to raise funds for blood cancer research. I'm in on this because I've seen what my coworker has been through as her daughter has endured too many trips to the ER, too many long hospital stays (the chemo makes her more susceptible to germs and when she gets sick, she gets very sick indeed), and of course the chemo itself. The Light the Night Walk is not a cure in and of itself, but every dollar raised gets us closer to a cure. Please check it out.


Chief and I are spending the weekend in the Heart of America - the clan is gathering to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary! Quite an accomplishment and a remarkable milestone, especially given that, with all my dad's health problems 2 years ago, we weren't too sanguine they'd both make it to this day. Yes, lots to celebrate and lots of festivities, chief among them being the clan portrait and the party. Of course. Gotta have a party! You don't stay married for 50 years, raise 5 kids, start and then sell your own business, and survive some life-threatening medical problems without killing each other and then not honor the achievement! So congratulations, Mom & Dad, and everyone else who's managing to make a go of it. (This is my 2nd marriage, so I certainly don't take staying together for granted.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Enough, already!

We've gotten twelve inches of rain just since Friday, with more on the way! According to this morning's paper, our little town (now a suburb of the big city) had 15 houses condemned due to flood damage. The area as a whole has gotten an average of 13 inches of rain since Friday; we usually get 39" of rain all year. That means we've gotten roughly 4 months' worth of rain in 4 days. We're setting rainfall records all over the place; this is far and away the most rain the area's ever gotten without the aid of a hurricane or tropical depression.

Methinks the drought may be over...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rain, rain, please back off!

We don't want it to go away entirely, as we were headed into a serious drought a week ago, but it sure would be nice if we could get all this rain spaced out a bit more. We've had perhaps 10 inches of rain since Friday night, with more on the way! Really messed up the morning commute for a lot of people today (the Chief's usual 30-minute commute took over 2 hours!), what with all the road closures and train cancellations due to flooding and even a mudslide! Power outages closed some buildings, and of course there were more than the usual number of accidents, despite all the folks who stayed home because getting to work would have taken more time and aggravation than it was worth. No to mention the ones who stayed home to deal w/ flooded basements and defunct sump pumps. We were lucky; we only lost power for about 20 or 30 minutes last night, and the water in the basement was minimal.

Anyone got Noah's e-mail address?

We're under roof!

Chief & I went out to the cabin this weekend and were pleasantly surprised to find it's under roof! No doors on the entryway yet, just heavy plastic, and nothing but framing inside, but it's under roof. Nice, big windows on 3 corners (the 4th corner is the bathroom) and an entryway with plenty of room to remove muddy or wet things before coming into the cabin proper. Chief & I took a marker and signed our names and the date on the inside of one of the exterior panels. I hope that will be covered by drywall (maybe even painted drywall!) the next time we get out there, but I took pictures of our signatures, and it'll be fun knowing they're there.

We spent most of the weekend at (one of the 2 big home improvement centers/HICs; they don't get named unless they pay me for the endorsement!). We stopped at HIC #1 on the way out Friday night to get dimensions for the pedestal sink going into the new bathroom. Our contractor came by Saturday morning, answered some questions, and gave us some "homework". As soon as we got a bite to it, it wasback to HIC #2 (different store, same franchise) to look for the sink (no luck), arrange for a vanity & top for the rehab of the back bathroom, check that the flooring we'd liked in our local HIC store was also available out there, and similar errands. Got most of the rest of our errands done, then back to HIC #1 to get the sink, which they had. We also ended up getting a medicine cabinet to go above it; darker than I'd have chosen, but we liked the style. The Chief found some lights for the new basement but the few on the shelf were not exactly in pristine condition, so we just scribbled down the item info and left. Sunday we went back to HIC #2 for the errands we'd forgotten on Saturday; getting the info on both floorings ("slate" for the entryway and engineered hardwood for the bedroom), deciding whether we wanted flat or textured ceiling paint, and picking paint colors for the 2 colors for which we had paint chips from other stores (now our contractor or the painter can get all the paint in one place). We also found that this store had 3 of the lights Chief wanted for the basement, and we also picked up a ceiling light for the utility room and pairs of "sconces" to go either side of the mirrors in both bathrooms.

Before we left the cabin yesterday, I wrote out notes for the contractor (item & model numbers for the flooring, paint colors with names & color numbers for the new & rehabbed rooms, number & placement of electrical outlets & light switches, etc.) while the Chief took everything we've bought to date (lights, door handles and locks, exhaust fans, the medicine cabinet & pedestal sink, ceiling fan...) and piled them according to room, with each box tagged. Unfortunately, in the process, we realized that one of the sconces didn't match the others! We had to go back to our local HIC anyway (paperwork for a rotted window at home that desperately needs replacing), so Chief grabbed the offending sconce and the relevant receipt and was able to exchange it last night. And as if he hadn't seen enough of the inside of this HIC, he stopped by on the way home from work tonight to pick up brochures for storm doors for the cabin. That's six trips to three different stores of the same HIC franchise in only 4 days! =:o

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

*$%^#@!*%^! asthma!

After 2 weeks of perfect weather, our luck finally ran out. Sunday was hot and hazy; summer weather. Monday was a Code Orange day ("moderately unhealthy" air quality) and yesterday was Code Yellow ("moderately unhealthy for sensitive groups", such as those of us w/ asthma). I'd been off my maintenance inhalers for so very long that I was out of the habit of using them, so I spent yesterday feeling that all-too-familiar chest tightness. I managed OK at work, but by the time I got home, I was tired and a bit crabby from the effort. As I pulled up, a neighbor's daughter was cutting the grass for her elderly dad. I'd've gone over to say hi, but knew the grass "fumes" would only make my asthma worse, so I had to restrict myself to waving and going straight into the house. What really ticked me off was that I was supposed to go w/ the Chief to his parish council end-of-year picnic but because they'd probably be eating outside, I had to stay home. Poor Chief - he listened patiently (or maybe just pretended to) while I griped about having to limit what I do and miss out on stuff just because of the wretched asthma. I shouldn't have to choose between fun and breathing!

Today was another Code Yellow and the cumulative effect has been no fun at all. Wheezing and coughing, and wouldn't you know, I had to give a short briefing at a big-deal meeting. As we were going in, my boss asked if I wanted a cough drop or some water; when I told him it was the asthma acting up, he knew enough to stop. (Some people have some pretty curious ideas about what might help an asthmatic.) However, my asthma did ease up enough that I was able to get through my presentation without coughing. Thank heaven for small favors, I suppose.

Everybody sing: "I hate New York"

Chief and I were in the NYC area to visit his family. I found myself, yet again, thinking that I'd hate to have to live there - the traffic, the crowding, the concrete, the grime & trash, the crazy drivers (even worse than here! =:o), and the way you have to drive for what seems like hours to get away from all that. Even the Chief says he wouldn't want to move back to the area. And the prices! Gas there was running $3.4x/gallon, vice $2.8x in NJ. Yes, there's lots to do and see, but not enough to entice me to live there.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Antiquing we will go...

If you like browsing antique stores & second-hand shops, it's great to be married to someone who's similarly inclined. I sometimes find myself saying yes when the Chief asks if I feel like hitting an antiques mall (e.g., when we were in Cape May) rather than having to persuade him to go with me. This weekend we were in NYC to visit his family (we were relieved to see his brother looking well just 2 weeks after surgery for kidney stones) and swung by the neighborhood second-hand store. I've previously found a large-ish cameo brooch at a very reasonable price, which will come in handy should I ever need it for a costume. (That's what I mean when I refer to "costume jewelry".) I've also found a few nice, soft handkerchiefs for a dollar each. However, yesterday was the most productive trip to date: the Chief spotted this charming Victorian chair in excellent condition for less than half what a "real" antique store would ask. The carving is well defined, with no bits broken off or even split. The upholstery is recent but inoffensive, and the construction is quite solid - barely creaks at all when you sit on it. This latest acquisition will probably end up in the bedroom we're adding out at the cabin, as it's a perfect height to sit on when donning or doffing shoes & socks.

Fun with English pronunciations

One of the listserves I subscribe to, Savoynet, includes anglophones from several different countries, so the subject of pronunciations recurs often/frequently. The latest iteration of that thread has been mentioning English-language names with pronunciations that aren't exactly what one might expect. One contributor refered us to - fun stuff! One thing makes me a little nervous, though - you can edit this page. I can't help but wonder if there's someone at Wikipedia who edits the edits for accuracy.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

That was fun, if too short

We have a small, informal chorus at work that I sing with when my schedule permits. Today they had a SummerFest and asked us to sing. We did a 20-minute program of patriotic favorites, ending w/ all four verses of the Star-Spangled Banner. (Take a look and you'll see why verses 2 thru 4 are almost never done - doggerel!) We were crammed onto a stage barely big enough for us all to stand, and it had a canopy low enough that folks standing more than a few yards away probably couldn't hear much, but it was fun.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Theater weekend

Ushered opening night on Friday. I doubt I'll ever become a fan of Princess Ida but the company did a great job - wonderful choral sound and very funny in all the right places. The costumes were lovely, the set worked well, and lots of interesting stage movement in the big numbers. I thought the female principals as a body were stronger than the men, but the men were hardly bad singers; I just liked many of the women's voices more.

Sunday I went to see another local company's How to Succeed in Business... Boy, is that a dated show! All the women, and I mean every single one in the show, are secretaries, and all the men are executives. The female lead's big number is "Happy to keep his dinner warm" - definitely very much a product of its time. Not an A-list musical, but the company did a great job, as I've come to expect from them: good voices, good costume design, and the thing that keeps me coming back - the production numbers! Only a couple of them in this show, but they were great; the company gets some real dancers (as opposed to singers or actors who move really well or dance a little) so the choreographers can do some really impressive stuff - lifts, tosses, backflips, all kinds of stuff that is impressive on tv but really impressive when it happens 20 rows away from you.

Back to working on my 06-07 season spreadsheet...

Friday, June 09, 2006

It's officially summer.

For all that we've been able to turn off the a/c and leave the windows open all week (most unusual for the first week of June - we're enjoying this special treat!), I know it's summer - I saw my first firefly last night.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's the little things

Finally finished (I think) sewing for this show. Today's project was a small one - headgear for the 3 women dressed as maids in Act I. I used an oval relish dish as a template to cut out 3 ovals, attached white lace around each to create almost a pillbox-hat effect, then used the last little bit of lace to make a rosette for each little hat. Worn far enough forward on the head that the front lace hangs over the forehead, they should be quite fetching. I wasn't too sure about the rosettes so I only attached one, but when I delivered the finished products to the Costume Goddess and "modeled" the one hat w/ the rosette, she seemed delighted with the result. From her, that's high praise!

She also told me that, after seeing M in his sash, the lighting guys dubbed him "the French Ambassador". :D

I'm ushering the show tomorrow, Opening Night. I'm looking forward to seeing the whole thing straight through, as well as seeing how my home-made accessories look from the back row. Those little touches can make a big difference. And if the two hems I did in a hurry last night aren't perfect, well, as long as they aren't as wildly uneven as they were before I redid them, I won't worry about it.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Bragging on myself

Yes, I know it's a tiny thing, but indulge me. I made a wide sash for one of the principals - 2" strips of red, white and blue sewn together to make a 6-inch-wide sash. I fitted it on M the other night to get the proper angle at the shoulder, see how it needed to cross at the hip, and check the length. Yesterday I sewed the fringe on the ends and made a rosette to be sewn onto the hip, then got everything fitted on M last night (rosette placement, tacking the sash where the front & back cross to make sure they hang well). I was very pleased with the result; the sash and rosette "read" very well, at least from halfway back in the audience, the trailing ribbons on the rosette lie exactly in line with the ends of the sash (pure serendipity but I'm not complaining!), the decision to double up on the fringe was a good one, the sash doesn't shift around or ride up on M's suitcoat - much more rewarding than straight hems or solidly-sewn fastenings that no one will ever see.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Someone else's Hell Week

Yesterday, despite interference from the universe (broken sewing machine needle and both local sewing shops closed, for starters), I got my costuming "homework" mostly finished and delivered to the theater last night. I also stayed long enough to finish the tenor's Act I jacket (hem the lining, attach a lapel carnation, and sew on too many buttons) and collect more homework for today. The Costume Goddess and her second-in-command have planned things well and been very successful in recruiting slaves, um, acolytes to do their costume bidding. The first dress rehearsal is tonight and all the major pieces are finished. (In shows where, as in this one, a majority of the costumes are new rather than from stock, people often don't have their costumes until the final dress, or even opening night!) Now it's down to tweaking; dressing the ladies' Act I hats, securing hems and fastenings, etc.

While I really miss being part of a show, I don't miss having to make the nightly Tech Week rehearsals, which tend to be exhaustingly long and tedious as the cast adjusts to working on the set instead of in a rehearsal hall. As a costume flunkey, I can come and go as I please and the costumers are grateful for my contribution to the cause. But after seeing some of the ladies' dresses, I do wish I were in this one. That's one of the things I love about community theater - playing dress-up! :D


Quote of the day (on the subject of anagrams), from "If you torture words enough, they confess to anything." To play with anagrams, go to and have fun.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

That was fun!

Last night we went to see a community theater production of The Wizard of Oz which was based heavily on the movie. The cast was enormous - 40 children, and a total of 52 castmembers! It was also very much a community theater production: several siblings among the children, and many of their parents either on stage or backstage. In some respects it resembled a recital by the local school/dance studio, but in general it worked quite well.

It's been a long time since I saw the movie; I had forgotten how very much music there is in it, so the music director certainly had his work cut out for him. There were one or two slightly ragged places, but given the amount of music the cast had to learn, I thought they did an excellent job. This production even added at least one bit (The Jitterbug) that was cut from the movie and another number the director wrote to cover a costume/make-up change during Dorothy's return to Kansas. That extra number worked quite well and I'm sure was helped by the littlest singer, who repeated the refrain several times (surprisingly big voice for such a tiny child!) while the others exited.

The audience was full of families with small (perhaps 10 and younger) children, which was good to see, as community theater audiences, at least at the shows I attend, seem to have an ever-increasing median age. The director had the actors make several entrances and exits through the house, not just the wings, which both involved the audience members more and solved what had to be some pretty hairy traffic problems backstage, with all those cast members.

The music sounded good, the "crowd scenes" on stage generally worked very well, and the costumes for the principals were quite good. I was particularly impressed with those for the Tinman, Scarecrow and Lion. The Lion's suit looked quite good (in that small house, you can't get away with too many shortcuts), moved well, and allowed the Lion to move well. The Tinman's suit was an impressive reproduction of the movie version, and I was amazed at how much the poor guy inside was able to move (though he seemed to do more kneeling than anyone else, which had to be difficult in that suit).

The hall has new mikes, which have a wire that comes around the side of the face. I found them a visual distraction and unnecessary. Unless the quality of their sound reproduction was extraordinary, I didn't hear anything that sounded like it was being picked up on a mike. (The performing space is a concert hall, not a theater, so I'm assuming it's designed for optimal unmiked acoustics of what's on stage.)

All in all, a fun show full of laughs; just what I needed after the past couple of weeks. (Friend2 needs a mastectomy, but the Chief's brother had his surgery and is home recuperating.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The prayer list is growing by leaps and bounds

Where to start? Let's see:
  • Friend1's husband had reconstructive foot surgery back in March. Friend is helping husband relearn how to walk while still working full time.
  • Friend2, stationed overseas, had to return to the States for needle biopsies about a week ago after a suspicious mammogram. Scheduled for surgery next week, type of surgery to be determined by the biopsy results. Her family, of course, is still overseas because they couldn't afford that many plane tickets.
  • Neighbor's daughter (also a friend of ours) just moved in w/ our neighbor because of his failing health. However, she won't be there for the next couple of weeks, as she's having major abdominal surgery next week and will be recuperating someplace where she won't have to deal with steps.
  • Friend3 had facial reconstructive surgery which turned out to be much more painful than she was prepared for. Couldn't sleep because everything was so tender, and the swelling and bruising were also much worse than expected.
  • Friend4's 90-ish mother fell, went into the hospital, had a heart attack while there. Was finally moved to a nursing home over the weekend.
  • Friend 5's mother died unexpectedly last Thursday.
  • Chief's mother called the other night to say his brother was in the hospital with kidney stones. This is day 3 and we're still waiting to hear the test results, and whether he'll have to have surgery or they'll be able to zap the stones w/ sound waves.

Today was the capper. We were all herded to together for a "mandatory" meeting. Turns out someone who had been working in another section of the office (I didn't know him) was found yesterday, had apparently died over the weekend of gunshot wounds that appeared to be self-inflicted.

I'd really like to hear some good news for a change. Please? Pretty please? Or at least no more traumatic news for the rest of the year; I've already had my fill!