Sunday, December 30, 2007

OK, so let's ring in that new year already!

I know a lot of folks who've had a really rotten 2007. There are the families & friends of those who've lost loved ones prematurely or watched them die a painful death, my ex (who had not one but two friends die too soon of nasty cancers), the ones who've had jobs yanked out from under them, and all those who've just had a whole bunch of little things start piling on until they amounted to one helluva big thing.

I've got a lot to be grateful for, and we got some lovely news last week, but I sure hope the folks around me who haven't been so blessed have a better time of it soon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

0 for 3

Got a group e-mail today from the director I auditioned for the other night. She's scheduling callbacks: "The following people are called back for the following roles..." Try as I might, I just couldn't make my name appear on the list.

I was one of three reading for the mom. For some reason, I ended up reading a different scene from the others, one in which "Mom" had very little to say. So I just tried to look engaged in what the other 2 characters were saying and hoped for the best. The only other person who was a contender (the 3rd woman was much too young) is a big wheel in the company and, probably more to the point, has appeared on stage with them before. Her name is on the callback list where I'd hoped mine would be.

I don't know whether to be cynical and think "She & the director know each other, may well be best friends, she probably meant to cast her all along," blah blah blah. Or to be charitable and think "her reading must have been closer to what the director wanted." Naturally I think I gave a good, solid reading but I'm hardly in a position to be objective. It's easy to be catty about the situation, but I haven't worked with the company yet and don't know how close X and the director are, so I'll reserve judgment.

This makes 3 auditions this month and no callbacks, let alone roles. Ah well, there are 3 or 4 shows auditioning next month that I'm interested in. Hope springs eternal...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Peter Pan syndrome?

As the 2 or 3 of you who read this know, I recently hit the half-century mark. (Sounds more impressive that way, don't you agree?) Not something I'm ashamed of or try to hide, but I don't exactly advertise it when I go to auditions.

After years of performing in G&S choruses, in which the women's chorus are nearly always girls (The Mikado's chorus singing "schoolgirls we, 18 and under" is only the most flagrant example), I think I've developed a rather distorted view of how old I "read" on stage. This despite all the gray in my hair. Among other things that says about me, it should tell you I don't spend a lot of time gazing, enraptured, upon my reflection. ;) There's also the fact that, being fair-skinned and freckled, I've long since grown accustomed to people underestimating my age. Hence, I'm still adjusting to the fact that apparently I no longer read in my 30s.

I think the wake-up call was when I auditioned for Bye Bye Birdie. I asked to be considered for Rosie (realizing that was a long shot), Mrs. Macafee or Mae Peterson. The only role the director had me read for was Mae, easily the oldest of the three. The demographics of the audition pool (only 2 or 3 women who looked older than their 30s) probably figured into his decision, but I guess auditioning with my hair down doesn't outweigh the gray and the crow's feet. :D

Sure, I could cover the gray; I've done it before. However, it's messy and a pain in the rear to do it myself, expensive if I go to a salon (can easily run $100; more if I want a trim as well), and has to be touched up every month or so. I'm cheap, I'm lazy, and I'm rather proud of the gray - kinda like hashmarks.

So I'm trying to resign myself to playing moms and grandes dames - I fully accept there are no more sweet young things in my future, but had hoped for the occasional sadder but wiser girl. Ah well, a Lady Bracknell (Importance of Being Earnest) or Desiree (A Little Night Music) would be fun to sink my teeth into, or Dolly in The Matchmaker. Now if I could only get cast....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

On a lighter note

Found the Daily Coyote in someone's blog roll. It's all about one woman in Wyoming raising an orphaned coyote. Fortunately for the blog-reading world, she's a good storyteller and gifted photographer. The photography is gorgeous, Charlie is adorable, and the tales of Charlie and his feline "big brother" are always fun.

Public service announcement

I've been enjoying Dooce's blog for quite some time now. It can be very funny, but today she gets serious. If you have ever suffered from mental illness or love someone who has or does, you need to read today's entry.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

More FreeRice and other good sites

I checked in at again today. I got all new words, and it seemed to remember my vocab level from last time. The words were a lot harder this time; I got 40 out of 42, but only because they give you 4 fairly different options for each word, making it easy to rule out at least 1 or 2 right off the bat. Some of the words I'd never even heard of before - delict and hyson are just 2 examples. I'll have to go back every so often and play again, if only to collect new words and stretch at least my recognition vocabulary. And the fact that I can help donate rice is a nice perq, too.

I think I've already mentioned the site where you can click to help fund mammograms. Turns out there's a related site that works similarly, but this time you click to fund food programs. This click-and-donate stuff seems almost too easy and painless to be for real, but says they're legit.

And of course Locks of Love is another unusual charity in that it takes donations in the form of hair. I'm about due to make another donation, probably after the holidays when things slow down a bit.

Looks like I'll be 0 for 2 this week

Two auditions at the beginning of this week. At the G&S were the 2 mezzos I most hoped wouldn't show, as both of them have not only done leads w/ the company, but have been hand-picked for special chamber productions. Worse, they're both lovely people, so I can't even hate 'em! Anyway, they both got called back, I didn't, and as I specifically said I wouldn't do chorus (I've already done chorus twice for this show), I won't be doing that show.

Monday was the new musical. The accompanist was having a difficult time settling on a tempo, though he generally erred in favor of too slow. I hope that was was the cause of the rather strained-looking polite smiles on the panel's face, and not my singing. I think I sang pretty well, given the accompaniment, but wasn't asked to last night's callbacks. I overheard someone say they would cast the show almost immediately, offering roles as early as this morning. I've heard nothing, haven't even been offered chorus, so I won't be surprised if I end up getting a "thanks but no thanks" e-mail. Hearing the woman ahead of me, and the guy ahead of her, both of whom had been in the ensemble of the last show I saw the group do, I wondered if perhaps I should hold off on auditioning for these folks until I can belt. Or maybe I just won't worry about it.

Auditioning is a funny thing. I look forward to it, perhaps because of the "hope" factor - "I hope they ask me to play X; she gets to sing all that great music", "I'd love to do this show", "I want to break into this company"; that sorta thing. If I'm less than satisfied with how I did, I start with the "shoulda woulda"s. If I think I did well, then I start dreaming about getting this or that juicy role, only to be disappointed when they don't cast me, or offer me chorus when I was hoping for something meatier.

Not getting cast also makes me wonder how my voice sounds to others, how I come across - is there something I still need to work on, or is it just a matter of taste or something else out of my control. Maybe they don't like my freckles, or they want someone who's older, younger, thinner, fatter, taller, shorter...

New stuff!

Mission accomplished! I set out with no particular expectation of finding much clothing that would fit me, but came home w/ three pairs of trousers and 5 tops, with 2 silk-blend turtlenecks to be shipped to the house (from another store in the same chain). The process was relatively painless, too. Only found one sweater in Macy's, found nothing in Nordstrom's for which I was willing to pay designer prices, though I saved myself a lotta money when I tried on a sweater that was perfect, except that I learned that my skin won't tolerate cashmere, no matter how cuddly soft it is. Talbot's was where I hit the jackpot - all 3 pairs of trousers, 2 of 'em on sale, and 4 sweaters, also on sale.

The Chief & I will still hit the outlet mall tomorrow so I can fill a gap or two, but I can no longer complain that I have no decent winter clothes to wear to work. Whew!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Snow: a 4-letter word? Discuss

Got our first snowfall of the season today. It was snowing when I left for work around 6:15 this morning, it snowed lightly or not so lightly pretty much all day, and it's finally tapering off at 9:30 at night. It was quite a while before it started to stick, at least where I had to drive, so we aren't buried, but a few schools let out an hour early, just about everyone's cancelled evening activities, and the evening traffic reports were twice as long as usual because of all the weather-related accidents.

And why so many accidents? I once heard someone deride the way the idiot factor seems to skyrocket whenever we get any form of precipitation: "They see a drip, they drive like one. They see a flake, they drive like one."

And from a friend's blog:
From "Ancient Music" by American poet Ezra Pound (Lustra collection,

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damm you; Sing: Goddamm.

Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing goddamm,
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

Are you a Cosmo girl?

Wonder if she's drinking a cosmopolitan...?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

To every season and all that

This weekend I finally managed to pack up my summer clothes and put them away, replacing them in the dresser with winter clothing. I also realized that every single item of is at least a coupla seasons old and looks it. Sigh; I really hate clothes shopping, but I'm gonna bite the bullet and do a bit of shopping Thursday and see if I can find a few decent things to wear to work.

This weekend I also put away the everyday china and put the Christmas china in the cabinets. I won't do much decorating, since we'll be out of town for Christmas, but we still enjoy using the Christmas china for a month or so every year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Remembering why I married him

This project for work took me to a much warmer clime. When I got on the plane to come home, the high there was near 80; when I got off the plane here, the temp was unseasonably cold, only in the upper 30s - brrrrr! TW, bless his thoughtful little heart, was waiting at the gate w/ both a sweater and my winter coat, knowing that the fleece jacket I'd packed wasn't going to be nearly warm enough. I can definitely recommend marrying a man with a "mother hen" streak. :)

It's the most wonderful time of the year

No, not that - auditioning for the winter shows. I've got 2 auditions coming up for very different shows - an 1885 Gilbert & Sullivan on Sunday, and A New Brain on Monday, which premiered only 2 years ago.

The G&S audition is going to be a bit different from the usual routine; in addition to a song, they want a monologue! I've done cold readings at some G&S auditions, but this is the first time I've been to one where they warned you to prepare a monologue. Since I'm auditioning for one of the contralto roles, I plan to work up Katisha's monologue about being an acquired taste, appreciated only by the educated palate. I've never (what, never? that's right, never!) memorized a monologue for an audition before - wish me luck! Not that I expect to get the role, given the caliber of the folks who audition for this company, but maybe I'll get as far as callbacks.

A New Brain is being done by a company I've auditioned for a few times before; haven't been cast yet, but I'll keep trying. Only 2 mezzo roles, but both are older women (the contral character's mother and a homeless woman), so if the G&S doesn't work out, maybe I should hope that no other mezzos audition for Brain. (Oh, and bring your ice skates - we're going to Hades.)

The timing could get interesting - the G&S is auditioning Sunday & Monday, w/ callbacks on Tuesday. Brain is auditioning Monday & Tuesday, w/ callbacks on Wednesday. If I have very good vocal days Sunday & Monday, I could conceivably have callbacks on both Tuesday and Wednesday, making for auditions on 4 successive nights! What an ego boost that would be, even if neither company offers me a lead (though of course I hope they do).

Reminding him why he married me

After a month on the road, then Thanksgiving dinner out of town (in other words, no wonderful leftovers), I was going through cooking withdrawal. Sunday I fired up the crockpot and made some chicken & vegetables; not bad, but nothing to write home about. Yesterday it was pot roast in a mushroom sauce. That was a resounding success! A bit salty but falling-apart tender, and the aroma was to die for. TW was raving about it and even suggested having another dinner party w/ that pot roast as the entree. Tomorrow I plan to try a pork & cranberry sauce recipe. The crockpot is getting a workout and TW has been going on about what a great cook I am.

And I have not yet begun to bake! :D

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Free rice and free vocab

Found on Shelly's blog. She's a librarian, so we share a love of words. FreeRice is a funny little site - you take a vocab quiz which keeps feeding you questions as long as you want to keep answering. For every so many you answer correctly, you donate 10 grains of rice. I don't know how many questions I answered (I got 'em all right; it pays to read a variety of genres set in different historical periods), but I donated 500 grains.

Check it out - have fun testing your vocabulary and do good while you're at it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fabulous Fifty

Turned fifty on Sunday - happy birthday to me! We had a multi-birthday dinner out Saturday (my 50th, the Chief's July 60th, and Dad's pending 80th), but Sunday Mom & I fixed dinner. Started out simple - "I'll just slide a chicken into the oven" - but got more & more involved. Not to mention the fact that we trotted out a nice tablecloth, linen napkins, silver, good china, crystal - all the "good stuff" that makes for a fancy, festive table. I made a nice apple cake, too. Mom teased me that having to make my own birthday cake reminded her of my comment once that one of the drawbacks of being a grown-up is having to make your own chicken soup when you're sick. Not in this case, though. I'd been meaning to make this particular cake for a while, especially as our neighbor E, who loves it, had his birthday on the 7th. Sort of a "mutual" birthday cake, I guess you could say. That, at least, is what I told him when I took some over on Monday. :)

Watch this space...

Finally getting a little blog time after the pre-visit cleaning and the visit itself. Trying to pack for this trip (I am going to be missing so many friends' shows while I'm out of town!), but should have time to catch up a bit here before heading to the airport tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Is this October or August?

Sheesh - not only are we in the throes of a drought that threatens to set records, but the past week or so has seen August-like heat & humidity. Upper 80s most of last week, 97% humidity on Saturday (no wonder we were so wiped out after walking around the festival all day!), and highs around 90 yesterday and today! Can't wait for the promised cooling front to move in and bring more seasonal temperatures. And rain. A nice, slow, soaking rain would be lovely. Please?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Stages of clean

TW and I managed to get the house to "friend clean" before my friend arrived Friday night. Today I got started on taking things to the next level - "parent clean". Didn't get too far, since I spent most of the day on laundry, iPod feeding and turkey soup, but we did get the guest bed stripped so TW and I will have clean sheets to sleep on when my folks get here. (They'll get our bed, which is larger.)

Harry Homeowner and Susie Homemaker

TW has had a busy weekend! He's spent most of the weekend building new doors for the shed out back. Those things are solid as Gibralter now! They don't look very pretty, but they'll keep the elements out; with luck, they'll keep out most of the local fauna, too.

I spent the first part of the weekend with my visiting friend, but today I've been making up for lost time, running 4 loads of laundry, folding it with frequent breaks to change CDs being fed into iTunes (38 discs!), and fixing turkey soup from the carcass of the bird I roasted for my friend's visit. (My favorite part of the turkey? Leftovers!)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Some good times to balance against the bad news

More bad news last week. My ex forwarded an e-mail from a friend from college. His wife, also a friend from college, was recently hospitalized for other serious problems and the doctors found she was full of cancer - the list seemed to include half her internal organs! When she flippantly asked the doctor whether she had days, weeks or months to live, the doctor reportedly replied sthg like, "well, unless you get hit by a bus, not days." !!! In other words, the prognosis is grim indeed, and the woman's only in her late 40s or early 50s.

Another woman my ex had told me about as being diagnosed w/ stage 4 earlier this year was also hospitalized recently. He said that while no one was saying anything, he got the impression they didn't expect her to go home again. And this one's only in her early 40s.

Then there's my friend who's barely in her 40s and so crippled w/ rheumatoid arthritis (RA) she's routinely faced with the imminent threat of having to retire on disability.

Then there's the good stuff. A friend who moved out of the area 10 years ago (can't believe it's been that long!) is in town this weekend to visit a few of us. I got her first, we visited our friend w/ the RA this afternoon, then I handed her off to yet another friend of hers before she heads back home again. It was lovely getting caught up on each other's news & families and swapping stories, then doing more of the same with our other friend. I think I laughed myself hoarse. Thanks, ladies; I needed that!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Don't have someone else pack your shoes.

TW & I were getting ready to go out to the cabin last weekend and were planning a nice dinner. While I pulled things together in the bedroom, I gave him my outfit & shoes for said dinner and asked him to put them in the suitcase. When we went to get ready for dinner that Saturday, I looked in the suitcase - no shoes. Rummage, rummage, dig, dig - still no shoes. TW had a vague memory of putting them in a plastic bag so as not to get anything else dirty, but into the suitcase? No such luck. I had to make do w/ sthg that didn't look too bad w/ sneakers.

Which is why it's best to pack one's own shoes.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Making the most of it

What was I just saying about having bits of business to do to make yourself noticed in a show? A theater friend & I went to see a Birdie friend of mine in Dearly Departed last night and I saw a perfect example of this. Delightful, a character who is on stage for quite a bit, has all of 2 words to say in the entire show. However. I don't know whether this was in the script or was a product of the director's or performer's imagination, but Delightful was played as slovenly and food-obsessed.

When we first see her, she's sitting very sloppily, stuffing her face w/ Cheese Nips. But not just eating them; at one point she was positioning them under her upper lip to resemble fangs, then making growling, biting and clawing motions. During the funeral scene, she had an ice cream bar to eat and at one point brought the show to a screeching halt while Delightful experienced a prolonged and apparently quite painful brain freeze. At the bows, she easily got the biggest appaluse.

Which was not to say that the rest of the cast were less talented. There were a few thankless roles, but I thought everyone did a good job. My friend was very believable in her role (funny how Lucille rather resembled Mrs. Macafee; both peace-makers), and I thought the cast worked very well together.

On the road again

Found out about a week ago that work is sending me on the road again. Only for about a month this time, but the timing could be better. Mid-October into November means I had to drop out of Christmas Revels, after only 2 rehearsals - wah! I've already told them I'm willing to help w/ costumes, make-up or some such thing so I don't have to go thru total withdrawal, but it's a pity this project couldn't have waited until January. (Will the world ever learn to arrange itself for my convenience?)

But when I e-mailed the Revels powers that be that I'd have to pull out of the cast, I was amazed at the response. I had showed up at one more rehearsal because I hadn't gotten a response to my e-mail and wanted to be sure the director had gotten the word. Well! Not only did I get an apology when I showed up, but the MD e-mailed that night to apologize and encourage me not to give up on the group, the chorus manager e-mailed me, the stage manager called me at work on Monday to apologize and say a few kind words, and my "husband" called and left a message on our answering machine. A friend of mine in the group had told me that the group was more like family than theater, but I guess I thought that her experience with them in time of need was because she'd done so many shows with them. But when a newbie gets that kind of response, I can't help but realize just how right she was!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

One of the challenges of being in the chorus

Driving home this afternoon, I was pondering life, the universe and everything. Didn't come up with "42", but did realize a pseudo-logical connection between a performer's insecurity and the hunger for bigger, better roles. It's all about being noticed - when you're the 3rd lovesick maiden from the left, 2nd row back, and all of you are dressed in aesthetic pastel gowns, about the only people who'll notice you are the audience members who know you. If you're the character whose only function is to answer the phone in 2 or 3 scenes and tell the ingenue "It's him again", you're likely to feel more like a piece of the set than a member of the cast.

On the other hand, if you've got lines, or a big scene, a solo or a bit of special "business", the audience is likely to notice. Mae Peterson is remarkably nasty to Rosie; it was fun to hear the audience gasp at some of the vicious digs she made. ("What does Rosie need a job for? In a year or two she'll be on Social Security.") When I played Pitti-Sing, I could be more of an individual than when I've been a chorister. No worries about pulling focus; as long as I shared it with the other leads on stage, I was "legal".

I've almost never gotten comments on my performance when I've been a chorister or had a minor role (although "Sr. Mary Velcro" was a lot of fun!), and then it's been along the lines of "you moved well in the choreographies" or "you were always so engaged in the action". Which is certainly complimentary, but my performer's ego wants more. It's greedy - it wants to hear how funny or moving or just plain wonderful my performance was. ;)

And the fewer people you share a curtain call with (20-person chorus? the other 2 members of the household staff? you & your chief foil?), the more likely you are to get a hand from the audience. Lee Adams had it right - "the sound that says love: applause!"

Monday, September 24, 2007

iTunes don't know from Mozart

I've been loading some CDs into my iPod and was amused to see that iTunes assigned my Mozart chamber music to the Electronica/Dance genre! Wooing the Lorelei got an Unclassifiable for a genre. Can't wait to see what it does with my Hungarian folk, Bonnie Raitt, doo wop...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Was that Elvis?

Earlier this week, I was driving down the highway, minding my own business, when I happened to glance over and realize that the driver next to me was sporting a perfect "early Elvis" do - pompadour, sideburns, the works. An impersonator on his way to a gig? I'll never know...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Back to being a TW

Today was the first (marathon!) rehearsal for the Christmas Revels' chorus members, so the Chief is back to being a Theater Widower, poor thing. His day got off to a rather early start, too. I woke up at 4:30 this morning w/ a migraine, which despite meds was still with me as I was trying to get ready to be at rehearsal for a 9 a.m. call. TW, bless his heart, offered to drive me, which offer I immediately accepted. (Driving w/ a migraine, even one that's finally backing off, is not fun, and not a very good idea.) So instead of taking his time over his morning coffee and the Business section, he got dressed and ferried me to rehearsal, then packed up all his toys, um, power tools before coming to fetch me home again in the afternoon.

However, this rehearsal schedule isn't nearly as bad as most I've had - Wednesday nights and one or two weekend rehearsals a month (unlike Birdie, when everyone was called every Saturday, Sunday or both), and no rehearsals at all over Thanksgiving week.

Of course, once I start my bellydance class next Monday and change my voice lesson to Tuesday, only one weeknight rehearsal won't seem quite such a light schedule to TW - I'll still be running out on him for one thing or another.

Today's rehearsal would have been a lot better had I felt better, but I still enjoyed it. Looks like we'll have a cast of 80+ once you add up the adults, teens, children, musicians, Morris dancers, and any other folks I'm forgetting at the moment. I sure am glad I don't have to ride herd on this horde! We never got around to doing any dancing today, but we did do a lot of singing (I can't believe how well most of these folks sight-read!) and were divvied up into "families". I'm a henwife (i.e., I keep chickens) married to a farmer and we have a lovely daughter who takes our eggs and wheat to market. (My husband sells the barley & hops directly to the tapster.) Many families, probably including ours, will get at least one young child once the director finishes her casting decisions.

Sounds like we're going to get our costumes comparatively early in the rehearsal process - we get our first "dress" rehearsal a week or two before Tech Week so we can see just how much they affect our movement. Even though I'll have a fairly plain costume - brocade's just not right for feeding or plucking the chickens - I'm still looking forward to seeing what I'll get to wear, as it sounds like our costumer is striving for as much authenticity as budget and modern skeletons will allow.


After much thought, and with the help of some of the Chief's deployment money, we just replaced the french doors in the kitchen with spiffy new Pella version - better weather seal, more solid, the Chief decided we'd splash out on the in-glass blinds, but best of all - screen doors! (Ignore the power tools populating the fringes of the first picture.)

I came home from rehearsal this afternoon to find the front & back doors wide open (we didn't want to the leave the old kitchen doors open - no screens). SO nice to have both back doors open, and the screen is such a fine mesh that you don't notice it. At least not yet; I'm sure that'll change once we've had it a while and it starts filling with insects, tree trash, and such.

Today was a lovely day, the first that's felt cool enough to be fall rather than late summer. We ended up eating dinner in the kitchen, with the breezes circulating around us; worth every penny we spent on those doors! (Now if we could just loosen the spring on the screen doors so they don't whack us every time we go in or out.)

Oh, and those boxes out on the deck? The Chief made those today to help us climb into our very tall bed in our new bedroom out at the cabin. He used bits of 2x4s and 2x8s left over from redoing the deck, so those things are solid as rocks, and almost as heavy!

Friday, September 07, 2007

My kinda quiz

Finally, a quiz I can believe in. :D I don't disagree with my results, but do wonder if my answer to the last question might have skewed them. Looking at the other possible results, I'd say I also have a lot of cabaret and folkloric dancer in me.

What Kind of Belly Dancer are You?

You are a Classic Belly Dancer. Your idol is Samia Gamal, and you long for the days of the Cairo greats. You're saving up for your first Madame Abla, and after that it will only be a matter of time before you star in your first Cecil B. DeMille style epic choreography. Your one regret is that the photographer they hired for your student recital wouldn't shoot you in black and white.

Take this quiz!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Cabin progress - slow but getting there

Well, so much for installing that window a/c - turns out the little slider things on either side are the wrong shape for our windows, the unit is too wide for the other sash windows we have, and apparently you need a completely different style for sliders (windows that open from one side to the other instead of bottom to top). The unit is now back at its original store, where they took it back w/ very little fuss. "What was wrong with it; didn't it work?" "Don't know; it was the wrong shape for our windows so we never even plugged it in."

We pulled into the driveway Friday evening to find a deer downhill of the driveway, probably nibbling on some of my poor ferns. At any rate, it took off at speed as we pulled in; I'm always amazed at how quickly they can disappear!

I was right that the flower on my impatiens wouldn't last, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it's got another bud. Maybe the deer will let it bloom before they eat it. Of the plants I put in, only the pachysandra seems to be doing well. Some of the euonymus couldn't take the drought, the deer devoured the lilies of the valley and keep munching the new fern fronds, but the pachy just hangs in there. Come October, I'll probably go back for more of the stuff, now that I know how well it does despite the clay, rocks, deer and other adverse growing conditions.

The weather was lovely (though we still desperately need rain!), The Chief managed to find someone to come clean out the gutters (our ladder's not tall enough) and I finally got the last of the towel bars installed. Well, except for the handtowel-size one we bought when we took the a/c unit back. That one needs a very tiny - perhaps 1/8" - hex wrench for the set screw. We'll have to buy one, just for this job, and I think it's gonna take some finding. After all, who uses hex wrenches that tiny (except perhaps railroad modelers or dollhouse makers)? Why on earth couldn't that manufacturer have gone w/ a normal set screw; we have a flathead screwdriver that served quite nicely for the other towel bars' set screws.

We saw that the contractor hadn't made much progress upstairs since the previous weekend; replaced the dry wall where they had to open up the wall to remove the old shower and bring in the new one, plastered a coupla places (and got plaster all over the shower stall), filled the hole where the old, broken heater had been removed, and that's it. However, even the patched, not-yet-primed walls look better than the old, yellowed, crooked wallpaper that used to be there.

That's going to be the moose bathroom. The Chief recently developed this interest in moose things. One of his Christmas presents was a pair of moose-print flannel pajama pants. When we were in Cabela's over Christmas, he bought a stuffed moose, a moose toothbrush holder (holes in the antlers), and a switchplate w/ a moose in one corner. I was subsequently able to find him another switchplate and outlet covers in the same design for his birthday. He also bought a smaller stuffed moose while we were in Montreal. So this bathroom will have the moose outlet & switchplate covers, a wallpaper border at about chair-rail height with moose & bears on it and the moose toothbrush holder, and we're trying to find a moose shower curtain that doesn't cost an arm & a leg.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Not a recommended way to bond w/ the neighbors

The Chief got home from work yesterday, all psyched to finish painting the deck, to find that the neighbors' old, enormous Bradford pear had dropped a huge branch on said deck. So off he went to buy a scissor-shaped chainsaw sorta thing, then spent most of the daylight cutting up branches. The Chief managed to reach H from next door, who came over to help and to fill his pick-up w/ branches. They got everything cut up last night, but the branches didn't all fit into the pick-up bed, so H came back today to finish up.

Miraculously, the only damage was to the flower boxes (the wire brackets were badly bent but the Chief managed to get them almost back to their original shape) and the 6 pots of portulaca sitting on the railing. All of the portulaca were knocked clean out of their pots - I found one dangling, pot-less and upside down, from one of the branches of the downed limb. Poor things - I took the 5 I could find and planted them in the patch out front; with luck, they'll recover. The Chief found the last portulaca this afternoon, tangled in the cut-up branches, and stuck it in one of the flower boxes with the geraniums.

Good thing we get along w/ the neighbors!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nice (and cheap) while it lasted

It's the height of August - we knew it couldn't last. Tonight after dinner we closed up all the windows which have been open since Saturday and turned the a/c back on to kill the worst of the humidity. The forecast for tomorrow takes us back into August weather - hot & humid. We'll be spending this weekend at the cabin; installing the window a/c unit we bought last time will definitely happen before bedtime tomorrow night!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Easing back into things

Having nothing to rehearse or perform from May until mid-September has been tough, so I'm finally doing something I've been meaning to do for quite some time: A few weeks ago I started a bellydance workout class to help build up my stamina a little preparatory to rejoining my last teacher's advanced class after a hiatus of over 10 (!) years.

We were barely halfway thru my first class when I remembered how very much fun middle eastern dancing is and realized how much I'd missed it. The Chief's been encouraging me to keep at it, seeing how much fun I'm having, but he doesn't realize how dangerous that could be. This hobby can eat even more time than theater - first it's class one night a week, then the occasional weekend workshop, then saving up for a weeklong dance camp, plus any time spent rehearsing and performing with a troupe, going to see other dancers perform... It's not cheap, either - in addition to the classes, the workshops can run into some money, especially those out of town (meals & lodging), not to mention the cost of costuming, props, dinner at those restaurants which have dancers, and of course music.

That could be a big expense - right now nearly all my stuff's on vinyl. I'm not eager to buy all those albums all over again! On the other hand, if I duplicate my vinyl & cassette collection on CD, I can load it all into my iPod, and I can also use iTunes to make my performance compilations - MUCH easier than taping my albums onto cassette, then recording select bits of each onto a performance tape, and it's bound to be less time-consuming. And of course CDs have the timings of each cut - no more guessing whether all those "about 3 minutes"es will add up to something too long for a 'gram, or longer than the time alloted for my slot in the workshop show. Fortunately, I've still got a stock of performance tapes to keep me going while I duplicate (and add to) my collection.

I also realize that when I was doing this fairly seriously (classes, out-of-town workshops, bellygrams, the occasional restaurant gig), I was single and unattached. This time I've got a husband to come home to, who might want me to choose my dance workshops based on other things to do in the area (such as antique shops or historic homes to visit). Or maybe he'll find a weeklong woodworking class that runs concurrent with a dance camp I'm interested in. I can just see it; each of us loading up our respective togs and toys, exchanging goodbye kisses and telling each other "Have fun at camp, sweetie - see you next week!" :D

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Yes, definitely August

... because the local one-act festivals are in full swing. The Chief and I went to one last night; we know the director of one of this weekend's pieces and both performers in another. The weather was already starting to moderate, the traffic wasn't too bad, and we ran into one of my friends in the parking lot & persuaded her to join us for dinner. The evening was a success overall; the Chinese restaurant was up to its usual standards, we liked 2 of the 4 pieces offered last night, and both of them involved the people we knew.

Is this August?!?

After 2 or 3 weeks straight of temps in the 90s, we got a gift - the temperature only got up to the low 80s, the humidity was negligible, and the insects were dining elsewhere, so we turned off the a/c and threw open the windows. This never happens in mid-August!

After feeling too drained by the heat & humidity all week to do much more after work than eat dinner & go to bed, we were very domestic today. While the Chief ripped out rotten deck boards, scrubbed some of the support structure w/ sealant, then installed & painted new boards, I ran a few loads of laundry, dumped the pics from my memory card into the computer, used the lawn sprinkler to water a few of the larger plants (the lilacs & azaleas looked so pathetic, poor things!), even started the sheers for the cabin foyer.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Two contrasting deaths"

I subscribe to a couple of theatrical listservs in addition to getting theater-related notices from people I've done shows with. They're usually relatively run-of-the-mill, the bulk of them being announcements of performances or auditions, or the need for tech people or additional male cast members. Today I got an audition notice, though, that's the most unusual I've seen to date: a local company will be auditioning for 3 Grand Guignol one-acts and are asking prospective cast members to "prepare two contrasting deaths (props are allowed but please, nothing that will make a mess or stain)"!

Hmm; I could see a baritone bringing a tenor, soprano and "kindly chorus" as his props (probably should include an accompanist, too) and doing Jack Point's final scene from Yeomen of the Guard as one of his 2 deaths. Odds are good there wouldn't be too many others doing that one. Perhaps said baritone could also do the "Die, thou!" scene from Sorcerer...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

With leap year coming up...

A very important word, especially for those born on "Leap Day" (Feb. 29th):

bissextile (by-SEKS-til) adjective Of or pertaining to the leap year or the extra day in the leap year.noun Leap year.[From Latin bisextilis annus (leap year), from Latin bissextus (February29: leap day), from bi- (two) + sextus (sixth), from the fact that thesixth day before the Calends of March (February 24) appeared twice everyleap year.]

Today's word in Visual Thesaurus:

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Catching up

Didn't last long at the cabin last week - too hot! The Chief went to visit his mother, who'd had another fall, but we were getting furniture delivered Friday evening, so off to the cabin I went. Temps in the 90s, high humidity, and no a/c - whew! I woke up Saturday w/ a migraine, my imitrex was back home, and at 7 a.m. the indoor temperature was already up to 80, so I did the bare minimum to close up (i.e., packed up the trash & locked the doors) and fled home to the air conditioning.

This weekend we both went out to the cabin, to weather that was much nicer than last weekend's - highs only in the 80s and much more reasonable humidity. We did go out & buy a window unit for the bedroom and a small fan for the guest room, though. I was delighted to find a bright-pink surprise, in the form of a "volunteer" impatiens that was certainly not blooming last weekend. The flower is fuchsia and the plant is only a few feet from the driveway - no missing it! I can only assume that the seed was in the pot of lilies-of-the-valley near which it's now blooming. I don't know how long the impatiens will last, as everyone tells me that deer find them very tasty, but I still enjoyed seeing it there.

We also had our contractor back out for a chat. He's going to redo the upstairs bathroom (replace the vanity, shower, drywall, paint & put up a border) and remove the dead a/c cum heating unit in the upstairs bedroom, remove the (ugly, crooked) wallpaper, and paint the bedroom. With any luck at all, that job will be finished by the time my parents come visit in about a month.

Decided not to buy a car right now after all. Between the latest cabin improvement project and the fact that the Chief wants to redo the front bathroom at home, I've got lots of incentive to hang on to my paid-for car another year or so.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

At a restaurant near you...

Much too hot to cook, so I tried a new Middle Eastern cafe nearby. Got there to find a drummer & oud player setting up, and a dancer arrived as I was partway through my meal, so I started eating more slowly. There was a family seated nearby with 3 small children; the oldest looked to be no more than 4. The 2 older ones, the 4-year-old and her perhaps 3-yr-old sister, were fascinated - the dancer, her sparkly costume w/ its dangly bits, the music, all had them bouncing in their seats. Even the baby in his high chair was entranced when the dancer stopped briefly near his side of the table.

It's a very small cafe - only 10 or 12 tables at most - and the dancer really only had perhaps 5 or 6 square feet near the front door in which to perform. The family w/ the little ones was seated at the tables right next to the musicians. So close, in fact, that at one point, when the dancer made a sweeping, bowing hip circle, the older girl reached out and tried to grab or at least flick the dangling fringe on the dancer's costume, which swung tantalizingly at the child's eye level. I'm sure the dancer had to be wondering what we were all laughing at!

As the dancer wound into the final section of her routine, her drum solo, the 2 little girls couldn't contain themselves any longer; they jumped to their feet and started to approach, dancing all the while! The older one was doing about as well as you'd expect from a 4-year-old, but her sister really seemed to have the hip thing down! As soon as the dancer turned and spotted them, she reached out and pulled them into the dance, tried to get the older one to do a few moves, while the younger one stuck with what she knew. It was adorable, and the audience loved it. (And I'll bet the parents were wishing for a camera!)

The dancer wasn't bad, given the circumstances. Forget traveling steps, floor patterns, working the room - she was pretty much stuck in a small space. I was therefore pretty impressed when she actually managed to swing a cane in those close quarters without hitting anyone or inadvertently clearing a table. She mixed both cabaret and folkloric styles, but seemed to have more fun w/ the latter. I'd love to see what she can do when she has some room to work.

Her costume was mostly what I'm used to, except that it included a belt that tied loosely at her waist, beaded, jeweled & tasseled to match the rest of her costume. At first I thought her hip work wasn't all that sharp, until I realized that the belt was playing up what her torso was doing and distracting from her hips. A shame - once I realized the distractor, I could see she had some nice hipwork. I hope she has a friend to tell her that belt commits what in theater is the cardinal offense of "pulling focus".

And to think I'd almost opted for carry-out!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Nice to have him home

What a sweetie! I was planning to go see Assassins this past weekend only because 4 Birdie cast members were in it. The Chief decided to pass, given the premise and that he's no more a fan of Sondheim than I am. Friday night, however, he decided to go with me after all. "Let's make a night of it and go out to dinner first." The show was well done, but I wasn't surprised to learn it only ran about 3 months on Broadway. The Chief didn't think much of the show at all - not the story, not the music. Fortunately, my friends did well so I didn't have to tell any "lobby lies", and the Middle Eastern restaurant right around the corner was very good. We plan to go back several times to try all the other things on the menu that sounded good.

Another perq to having him home again - he picked up a few groceries for me after work today.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Silly spam!

Just got some spam with this entertaining subject line: Long live your august personage as soon as you have assumed the throne. Until that time, I suppose, you could walk in front of a bus and they wouldn't turn a hair.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dr. Destructo

Today was my first day back at work; however, the Chief doesn't go back until Monday, so he has the rest of the week to spend on his Harry Homeowner projects. Today I got home to find him ripping boards out of the deck. By dinnertime he'd backed the screws out of several boards, cut up a few more, and pulled out one of the deck steps. He was having a great time, playing with his drill and rip saw, hauling up those rotten old boards. We may have a new deck floor by the end of the weekend. (The railing just needs a new coat of paint.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lotsa fauna at the cabin

The last couple of times we've been out at the cabin, we've probably seen as much wildlife activity as we ordinarily see in an entire year. We've seen lots and lots of deer, including 2 or 3 does with fawns (twins, in one case). We had several small groups of deer go tearing past, come by to browse on what the gypsy moths didn't eat, or just pass through.

We also had a visit from a turkey hen and 8 chicks. Not that I was able to count the little fluffballs, between their very effective protective coloring and the way they alternated between utter stillness and surprising speed. Our next-door neighbors, who are full-timers, have seen the family several times and have had more opportunities to count the chicks (poults?); they confirmed the number for us.

Friday we had an unexpected visitor in the form of some sort of woodpecker (a female downy?) which spent several hours resting up on the swing out on the deck. Just sat there, first on the seat, then perched on the back, before flying off again. I also spotted a pileated woodpecker - they're pretty hard to miss, between being at least a foot tall and having that bright-red Woody Woodpecker cap.

What else? The usual squirrels, along with a coupla ground squirrels, several rabbits, and several different kinds of birds. Yep, the wildlife has been out in force this month.

Welcome to geezerdom (geezerhood?)

The Chief and I got our new military IDs last week to reflect his fully retired status (his Reserve pension kicks in Aug. 1st), which had him boasting of his new status as an "old fogey". Then he turned 60 the other day and seems to be rather proud to declare himself an "old geezer". I'm trying to make him realize that he's only a young geezer and pointed out that the 96-year-old I sing with at church could teach a 60-years-young whippersnapper like the Chief a thing or two. :)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Car payments in my future

Sigh. I like my little 1999 Saturn, but now that it's up to 91K miles, I'm starting to look for a replacement. I bought this one in a hurry (had just returned from overseas and the meter on the rental car was ticking over at an alarming rate) and would rather not have to make another hurry-up purchase. I paid it off years ago and it hasn't given me any trouble to speak of, knock wood, so whatever I find is gonna hafta have something special to make it worth taking on car payments before I absolutely have to. I'm not the type to name my car or otherwise anthropomorphize it - as long as it's reliable and big enough to haul occasional loads of props, costumes, bedding plants, cabin supplies or whatever, I'm satisfied. That rules out anything "sporty", and I certainly don't need a minivan or SUV. Availability in a not-boring color is a plus, but hardly a sine qua non. (The Latin is for my Latin-scholar godson.)

I picked up the 2007 Consumer Reports car issue and just started wading through it (it wasn't nearly this detailed the last time I went thru this exercise - I feel like I'm doing a research paper!) but would also like to hear from folks who've recently bought a car. Are you happy w/ what you bought? If you had it to do over, would you get something different? Any horror stories you'd like to share, if only to get a sympathetic ear? ;)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Baking binge ahead...

The Chief and I hit several farm markets between Tuesday and yesterday - July is dangerous for that! We ended up buying 2 dozen ears of corn (and have already gone through nearly half of it, with the help of some neighbors), 1 peck of peaches (that works out to 3 dozen or so), 4 pts of blueberries, a small watermelon, and a pt of late strawberries. The first 1/2 peck of peaches was the trigger for the fruit-buying binge - they smelled so good, I wanted to smear them on my wrists and behind my ears! However, I showed admirable restraint, only bought 1/4 peck, and made one heckuva glorious peach pie. Improvised, too, since I didn't have my spiced peach pie recipe out at the cabin. Oh, and when we stopped for the second dozen ears of corn yesterday, we also got a peach-blueberry pie. I wouldn't buy another - I prefer my peaches straight - but not bad at all.

I picked up a small peach recipe book at one of our farmstand stops; the spiced peach pie recipe is wonderful, but I thought it might start to pall after the 3rd or 4th pie. So I went through my new peach cookbook and today I made a peach cake recipe - definitely one I'll make again, perhaps tomorrow, since a single recipe only fills one 8"x8" cake pan. I made a double recipe (took one cake over to a neighbor) and only used 8 peaches. That leaves me probably about 20 peaches to use up. Three guesses what I'll be putting on my cereal tomorrow.

I've already measured out blueberries for a pie and will probably use the rest for muffins, some of which will go next door. (We divvied up the newspaper/mail collection among our neighbors.)

Not sure what'll happen with the strawberries or the watermelon, but the Chief bought himself a new juicer today...

Monday, July 16, 2007

He's home at last!!!

The Chief got home July 3rd so I've been spending precious little time near a computer. I had orders to take him straight out to the cabin when I picked him up at the airport. The weather out there was absolutely perfect, and we finally found a dresser and nightstands for the new bedroom. We stayed at the cabin until just a day or two before we left for a week's vacation in Montreal. Home long enough to do a load or two of laundry, then back to the cabin so he can start digging into his list of projects. First up - scrubbing down the front & side deck and giving it a new coat of stain.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Talking plants!

NPR's Ketzel Levine has a new blog called Talking Plants. Today's entry has an interview w/ one Kati London, co-founder of Botanicalls. Funny interview, about a concept that's just a bit eerie - sensors in your houseplants to tell you if your ficus needs more light or your spider plant needs more water. Imagine your african violet IM-ing you to beg you to move it out of that too-sunny window...

Very punny

When I told TW about buying myself my spiffy little tiller, he came up w/ a new nickname for me which he thinks is particularly clever: A-tiller the Hun.


I've been trying all day not to hyperventilate or break down - TW gets home TOMORROW!!!! I've got a million things I want to get done around the house before then, very few of which I can realistically hope to accomplish, but it doesn't matter - no matter what does or doesn't get done, he'll be getting off that Freedom Bird tomorrow afternoon!

Tonight's checklist includes packing things for the cabin (he wants to go there straight from the airport), cleaning the bathrooms, changing the sheets, shoveling the clutter off the kitchen island, getting the trash out for tomorrow's pick-up, watering the flowers so they don't shrivel up & die, getting the last of the laundry folded & put away... Far more things on that list than I can realistically expect to accomplish tonight, but it'll help me burn off the nervous energy. Maybe I'll even wear myself out a bit so I can actually sleep tonight.

Methinks I might not be at my most productive at work tomorrow...


Teeny bit of background: our home computer is right next to window, from which I can see our next door neighbor's driveway and front garden, and I mean "garden" in both the American & British senses of the word, as it has two lovely flower beds that flank the front walk. Just yesterday I saw a bright yellow goldfinch(?) enjoying the flowers. I looked out just now to see what the birds were going on about and saw 2 robins in the driveway. I'm guessing one was a juvenile, given its fairly muted coloring, though it was nearly as big as its parent. It was cheeping at said parent, who eventually gave in and popped sthg into its mouth. Junior gulped it right down, quieted immediately, and both of them hopped off.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Progress of sorts

Made one last trip to the cabin this weekend to pretty it up before the Chief gets home on Tuesday (HALLELUJAH!!!!). I had hoped to mount a toilet paper holder & 5 towel bars in the downstairs bathrooms and hang all 6 cellular shades, in addition to giving the place a thorough cleaning & vacuuming to get rid of the usual accumulation of dust, cobwebs, and insect carcasses. (Still no evidence of mice moving back in - hurray!) I got all the cleaning done, except for sweeping down the deck, which did need it. The gypsy moth caterpillars have either died or become moths by now, but their mess lingers on. Bleah!

I managed to mount 2 out of 3 towel bars in one bathroom, and one towel bar out of 2 and half the toilet paper holder in the other. Couldn't get the last towel bars up in either bathroom because I kept running into studs and the stud finder I made a special trip to get doesn't work on exterior walls; it kept reading the entire exterior wall as a joist. The problem with the toilet paper holder was that the installation instructions gave a distance for spacing the two brackets that puts them at least 1/2" too far apart (I can't help but wonder if that's a typo). My first thought was that I'd just back out the screws on the one bracket & remount it. Then I realized that I couldn't back out the plastic thingies the screws had to go into, so I can't remount the bracket until I get another pair of plastic things.

The cellular shades were the project I most wanted to get finished, as we have yet to put up any window coverings of any sort in the new bedroom, and with six big windows, that bedroom gets sunny early at this time of year, making it hard to sleep much later than 6 or 7 a.m. I got all the mounting holes for the brackets marked, then proceeded to get them all pre-drilled. All but the very last hole. Wretched battery pack on the driver drill ran through its charge, the inconsiderate, uncooperative wretch! I did go ahead and screw in the brackets on one window by hand, just so I could get one shade mounted and see what it looked like, but because I had been cautious and used a fairly small drill bit for the pre-drilling, cranking in the screws by hand was slow going - a good 10 or 15 minutes for just 4 screws into pre-drilled holes. And because I needed to get back home, I couldn't stay to do them all. Good thing the shade snapped into place incredibly easily, so I could get one shade mounted.

While I continue to be frustrated at how very much time this simple little project is taking, I was very pleased with the results when I finally got that lone shade hung. Not only does it look nice and hangs just as I'd hoped (though it could stand to be 1/4" wider), but it darkens the room beautifully. Once I get the other 5 in place, the room will be so dark with the shades down that I could probably sleep till noon on the brightest day of the year.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bloomin' mazus!

Checking on my flowers this afternoon, I was surprised to see that some of the new mazus I put in a few weeks ago have tiny new blooms! I've been pleased to see that, perhaps because it's been unusually mild so far this year, they've all managed to avoid "transplant shock" despite getting planted so late in the season that they were almost solidly rootbound. However, even though some of them still had a few very late blooms on them when I bought them, I never expected new blooms in late June on a plant that typically blooms in April! One more unexpected pleasure to add to the list - several days so perfect I could have the windows open for 2 or 3 days running, seeing that last year's mazus are starting to take hold (though they aren't spreading very quickly at all), and now the new mazus not only aren't protesting their transplant, but are putting out new blooms.

The other things I put in last week with the tiller are also busy establishing themselves. The cayenne seems to have discouraged whatever was knocking over the potted portulaca, and the portulaca in the ground look like they're going to do well once they get over being rootbound. The mountain laurel and royal fern seem to be settling nicely into their new spots, and the rambling fern is already starting to to do just that - it's already put out a few new fronds, and has laid down several of the older ones so they can start spreading.

I've never tried to grow ferns before, so I'm enjoying the process. Next week I'm going back out to the cabin, so I'll get to see how the ferns out there are doing. That rambler was also starting to spread; can't wait to see how that's worked out, and how the other types of ferns are doing. Not to mention how the euonymus and pachysandra are doing, and whether there's anything left at all of those lilies-of-the-valley I planted.

Can anyone explain to me...

With the weather so brilliantly mild the past few days (low humidity and temps only in the 80s), I've had the front door and all the windows open. The ice cream trucks are on their summer rounds and their little recorded music "mixes" have been drifting in my open windows. What I'd like to know is, why on earth are they playing Christmas carols in the middle of summer?!? I'm not talking "Frosty the Snowman" either; they're playing "Silent Night" and "God Rest ye Merry, Gentlemen"!

TW's now a "single-digit midget"!

In other words, he's down to 9 days and a wake-up before he gets on that homeward-bound plane! YEE-HA!!!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Going places

My new passport finally arrived yesterday, 14 weeks to the day after I mailed off my old, expired passport and my renewal application and less than a month before I'll need it. I thought applying in March for a passport for a July trip would be plenty of time; now I'm really glad I told them my travel dates were in June, not July!

Now that I have that taken care of, I'm starting to get excited about our trip to Montreal. We've got our plane tickets and B&B reservations, and now I've got my passport. (TW's is still good for another few years.) TW gets home in only a week and a half, whereupon I start 3 weeks of time off work - YEE-HA! We'll be bopping around a bit - some time at the cabin, our trip to Montreal, a day trip or two, even staying home to work on whichever home improvement project he decides to tackle first - but at last we'll finally be together, instead of two continents apart!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Nice surprise

Management had an impromptu "awards ceremony" in the office this afternoon to announce the names of those who were getting promoted this year. One was a surprise, even to the awardee; he admitted himself that when they told him, he was completely taken aback, as he'd gotten his current GS grade just 3 or 4 years ago. He was already flourishing the Exec parking permit to which his new grade entitles him; we were joking that for most people going to that grade, the reserved parking permit is more important than the money.

Once the promo announcements were made, they started calling up people who'd gotten a cash award, of which I was one! Turned out management had scraped together a team award for those of us who were regulars on the "weekends and holidays" rota. Not a huge amount by the time they divvied it up, but enough that, as I e-mailed TW, I can easily afford to take him to the Ritz for dinner to celebrate his birthday, and can even afford to spring for coffee & dessert. ;)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Still decorating

Stopped by the fancy-schmancy "home design" sibling to one of the 2 big home improvement chains today. I was looking for a pair of 18" double towel bars for the new bathroom at the cabin; no luck. You want 24"? You've got your choice of at least 4 different finishes, in a huge array of styles. But 18"? They had single towel bars only, no doubles. So when I got home, I searched on the computer and within half an hour had a pair of 18" doubles (discontinued, so they were half price) and a matching toilet paper holder. Lordy, I love shopping on line - you can find anything!

If I'm really lucky, they'll arrive by next Thursday, so I can take 'em out to the cabin and get them installed next weekend. My dream is to get all the blinds (excuse me, "cellular shades") up in the new bedroom, hang the towel bars in both downstairs bathrooms, and get them all "dressed" with towels so they'll all look a bit more lived-in and less like the contractors just left.

And if I get to my sewing machine now, maybe I can run up the sheers for the front & back foyer doors. We already have the curtain rods for the doors & sidelights; just need the curtains.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Feeling crabby

Reasons I feel entitled to wallow in grumpiness today:
- One of our senior folks moved to another office and his replacement is gonna need some time to get up to speed on the project and her new managerial duties. Another of our senior folks is out of town on extended leave, helping his brothers wrap up their dad's estate. Which means that those of us still in the office have to cover for them. See me do my "one-armed paperhanger" dance...
- Maybe it's just the temporary uptick in the workload, but at the moment I'm not too crazy about my job. It's nice to be someone whose opinion is valued, but some days I just want everyone to leave me alone so I can get one thing finished without interruption.
- The idiots on the road in this area seem to get worse and worse. Just on the way home tonight, I had at least 3 people fly around me on the right before I could move right myself to get out of their way and get them off my bumper. Then there was the twit who anticipated a green and made his left turn early, and the one who was out in the middle of the intersection waiting to make his left, then, when his light turned red, decided no, he was gonna go straight instead.
- Got home to find that some blasted neighborhood critter (probably a cat, though I have no proof) had once again knocked over one of the flowerpots I just put on the front steps 2 days ago. (The same flower pot got dumped last night, too.) I generously cayenned the steps and the area around the steps; we'll see if it does any good.
- TW is due to come home 2 weeks from tomorrow! Now that it's finally close enough to be worth counting down, all the weight of missing him is coming back in a rush and the house seems a whole lot quieter than usual.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


My mini-tiller came a couple of weeks ago, but first I had to get another wrench to put it together (we only had one of the requisite size, but needed two), then yesterday I finally carved out a bit of time to put it together. Once I did, though, I put it to use immediately. I worked a couple of bags of topsoil into a corner of the yard that's on a short but steep slope and planted the last of the portulaca I bought a while back. (And replanted a few crocus bulbs that got thrown to the surface in the process.) I'm hoping they'll serve as a nice ground cover until next spring, when I can get some creeping phlox for that spot to keep it from washing away and generally looking barren.

I wasn't able to do the patch on the north side of the house where I want to plant the mountain laurel and 2 ferns; my tiller's electric and I didn't have quite enough extension cord to reach. But that's easily remedied - I picked up a 50' (neon green!) extension cord after church and now just have to decide if I want to run out there right after lunch and get to work, or wait until later in the afternoon or maybe even after dinner, when the temperature is no longer in the 90s. It'll be a tough call - I'm itching to get those plants into the ground and that side of the house is well shaded...

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I've been thinking hard about getting back into middle eastern dance, looking for classes (tons of beginner classes in my area, very few advanced ones, most of them either too far or on a schedule I can't manage), started browsing this one site and found THIS DRESS! I love the color, the "appliques" (those are squillions of beads & sequins, individually sewn on by hand), the swingy sleeves. I'd be happier with a dress that wasn't quite so fitted along the thighs (how can you travel in a hobble skirt?), but oh, what elegant lines! Wonder how close to a mortgage payment the price tag is?

I never fell in love w/ my wedding dress. As I told the woman who fitted it for me, it was "just a costume" (yes, those were my exact words), to be worn for a single performance. But this! This I'd definitely wear again, on the flimsiest excuse. And the way it's designed, I could even wear it to a fancy gala or black-tie affair; I just wouldn't stand like the model. :D And if I could get it in kelly green or royal blue, say, with gold instead of silver, my gold jewelry would look absolutely stunning with it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Social Sunday

Last Sunday I ended up at the local diner for dinner. A friend & I had very tentative plans, but when I hadn't heard from him by 6:30, I decided I was too hungry to wait. I'm used to seeing someone I know there, but this was unusual - of 4 booths I passed on the way to where they seated me, I knew people in 3 of them!

Well, just as I finished ordering, D called to say he was on his way. So we got caught up a bit, and he mentioned that a mutual friend was sitting on the other side of the diner with his partner. When they finished, P came over to say hello, then C joined us, and we all sat and talked for at least another half an hour. And since they're all professional musicians and performers, it was much more fun than the book I'd brought to read while I ate.

Purple fuzzies in the grass

Last weekend I was washing all the flannel sheets before putting them away for the summer (it had finally gotten hot enough that I just had to dig out the percales) and decided I might as well wash the washable-wool blanket too. Man, you never saw so much navy-blue fuzz! Forget dust bunnies, these were fuzz rhinos or elephants or something, and that was just in the washer. What really surprised me was the relatively little amount of fuzz I pulled out of the dryer's lint filter afterwards. When I went out to water my flowers later, though, I learned where all that lint livestock had gone - there was about a 2-foot radius around the outside dryer vent that was full of huge hunks of purplish-blue lint.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Binge gardening - update

Got out to the cabin again this weekend to see how all my plantings were doing after fending for themselves for a couple of weeks. Turns out they're doing pretty well, especially considering how little rain we got those 2 weeks. The euonymus isn't thriving, but it hasn't died, or even gotten dried-up-looking, so I'm satisfied. The poor lilies-of-the-valley seem to have ended up as deer snacks. Of the 20 pots' worth I planted, I could locate perhaps half a dozen, of which nearly all had been stripped to bare, pathetic little stalks.

The biggest success was probably the pachysandra; all of it seems to be looking as happy as when I put it in 2 weeks ago, and it seems to be very definitely not merely deer-resistant but deer-proof! How do I know? One patch of pachysandra ended up on the edge of a deer trail. Part of the patch looked rather trampled yesterday, and one of the untrampled plants had a bite or two out of it. But only a bite or two. Conjures up a mental image of a deer strolling past, deciding to sample this new plant, then deciding it wasn't tasty enough to warrant another bite.

The surprise, for me, was the ferns. Having never planted any before, or even had them in my yard (the ones growing wild near the cabin don't count), I was completely ignorant of how they propagate. I noticed that a few of my ferns had broken-looking fronds lying on the ground. When I went to pick one up, I met with resistance. Remembering the little spores I've often noticed on the undersides of fern fronds, I'm guessing the grounded fronds will soon sprout new ones. They're multi-talented, though; at least some varieties, including the ostrich ferns I bought, propagate from runner roots (if that's the right term). And I noticed that all my ferns - all 4 kinds - have new little fronds in various stages of uncurling. I'm delighted to see that they're already starting to spread, which is exactly what I hoped from them.

The two mint plants I brought out looked very lush and healthy in their nice, big pots. They'll provide some very nice flavoring the next time we fix iced tea, even if spearmint doesn't do a thing against ants.

The weekend wasn't a complete success - in addition to the eaten lilies-of-the-valley, the gypsy moth caterpillars had made a HUGE mess, and I couldn't hang the new towel bars because the driver drill had plenty of driver bits, but only 2, too-large drill bits. However, the weather was gorgeous, I managed to finish swapping the flannel sheets for percale on the beds, and I determined that the new antique store in town really is an antique store, not a junk shop or craft store.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Sunny, mild (mid-70s), dry, gentle breezes, the birds singing their little hearts out, no annoying insects - if this ain't a perfect day, I don't know what is. So perfect, in fact, that when I got home from work, I left the front door open and started opening windows to let in some of those nice little breezes. (It's safe to open all the windows now that tree pollen season is well behind us.) Tomorrow's highs are supposed to be in the mid- to upper 80s, and Friday is supposed to get well into the 90s, so I'm enjoying this gorgeous weather while it lasts.

I also, finally, swept out the front of the living room, shook out the entryway rug, and even swept the front steps, walk and sidewalk. Any excuse to be out in the lovely weather. If only I had my tiller...

I stopped to pick up some bags of topsoil on the way home, along with a pair of 4" pots of very healthy-looking mint. I think it's spearmint, judging from the smell. The little plastic label was almost as little help as no label at all; instead of a proper identification of the plant, all it says is "assorted herbs"! But they're definitely mint, and nice & bushy and lushly green. I'll take them out to the cabin with me this weekend to go into the two big pots I took out last year. The mint I had planted in them died when the contractor moved them to the back deck before starting demolition. Said demolition included the section of deck that connected the back deck to the house, essentially stranding anything left there (the 2 pots of mint, which withered & died; the BBQ grill; the deck swing).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

First sign of summer

Saw my first lightning bugs last night! Forget pool openings or the first 90-degree days; for me the first sign of summer is lightning bugs.

Not that hot today - we had some pretty torrential rains move through yesterday evening which cooled things down quite a bit. Only in the 80s today, and it's supposed to get down into the 50s tonight - I look forward to sleeping w/ the bedroom windows open, now that tree pollen season is well behind us for the year.

I think I'm gonna hafta bookmark The Onion

There on one of the blogs I read was a link to an Onion article that's funny if you've ever done (or attended) any kind of "updated" or "concept" show, but especially if you've done or seen updated or concept Shakespeare.

I may have to break down and bookmark the Onion's site. I see they have an article on the latest Harry Potter book, too...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Hi, Mom!

I was telling Mom last weekend about my unplanned gardening binge out at the cabin. She wasn't familiar with many of the plants I mentioned (e.g., the fern varieties), so I e-mailed her links to pictures of everything, along w/ the link to my blog. I think I have a new reader, as Mom mentioned the blog the next time we talked.

Hi, Mom! (waving)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Revels will be fun!

Went to my first Revels chorus meeting last night. The newbies among us have been assigned a "chorus buddy" to help us learn the ropes (mine sings alto, too; wonder if that's by design?), and the opening meet-and-greet, based on how many Christmas Revels people had done, tried to build a feeling of family or community. At the break, the one Reveler I knew going in confirmed the family nature of Revels, telling me that a few years ago, when first her husband and then she fell ill, other Revelers brought them meals, visited, and checked up on them every so often to see if they needed anything.

After we got introductions and administrative matters taken care of, we sat down to do some singing. We didn't have all 38 choristers but we had most of us, and oh boy, did we sound good! I've sung with some pretty wonderful voices, but this is the first time in ages that I've sung with so many wonderful voices. I loved it! I absolutely cannot wait until rehearsals start up in earnest in September - I am definitely looking forward to making music with such a large company of good, rich, solid voices!

One of the announcements for the newbies was that one of the many Revels traditions is that everyone gets a bit of "business" to do. Anyone who was interested in sthg in particular, wanted to read for a character turn, or had some unusual trick or talent was encouraged to let the ass't director know that. So when the crowd thinned, I trotted over to let her know that I'd like to read for sthg and also that I can dance w/ a sword on my head. They may not be able to fit that little party trick into their Elizabethan theme, but if they can, well, I'm ready to show off. :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Keeping my fingers crossed

...along with my toes, my arms, my legs, my eyes... TW is manifested on a return flight in the wee hours of July 3rd! Something could still happen to interfere with that (plane having mechanical problems, things heating up in theater, etc.), but being on the passenger manifest is a very promising sign. I won't rest easy, though, until I see him walking through the doors from Customs and into my arms.

Is this a problem?

I just realized that, with my fall season all sewn up, I don't have any excuse to audition for anything until companies start auditioning for their late-winter and spring shows. A shame. I don't know what it is about auditioning that I like, but maybe it's the possibility that I'll be the one they want, that they'll say "Wow, where has she been hiding?!" Or it could be I'm a touch wistful because I always enjoy the dance part, and it's fun when they let us read (although admittedly, with musicals that usually doesn't happen until callbacks). Maybe it's sizing myself up against the competition and seeing where I stand, or getting a chance to "perform" one of the pieces my voice teacher & I have been working on. And of course there's always the delightful prospect of a new toy to play with, in the form of a new show to do.

While it's nice to know already what I'll be doing this fall theatrically, that means of course that I won't be doing any of the other shows being performed this fall. However, I can always console myself w/ the same fantasy I indulged in when I was called back for Merry Widow earlier this year and had to turn it down: had I been able to audition, they would certainly have recognized immediately that I'd be wonderful in the role and have offered it to me before I left auditions. :D

Monday, May 28, 2007

Binge gardening!

Finally got back out to the cabin over the weekend. No frozen pipes, thank heaven, but the sink in the addition had sprung a leak. Seems that when the plumber installed it, he overtightened the drain pop-up sleeve. The plastic couldn't take the pressure and cracked, so now our contractor has to get him back out there to fix it. Good thing it's still under warranty.

Lovely weather the whole time I was there, though it did get a bit humid. I had planned to put up the blinds we ordered back in December, but stopped by the neighborhood nursery en route to the day's errands. I went in search of some ground covers for the hill where we put in the new septic tank & field to keep it all from washing down the hill. Turned out this nursery specializes in just what I was looking for. As a result, I ended up with 20 pots of lilies of the valley (averaging 4-6 pips in each pot), 5 ostrich ferns, 2 branford rambler ferns, 3 marginal ferns, a Christmas fern potted w/ sthg else, half a trash bag full of euonymus, aka purple wintercreeper, and half a trash bag full of pachysandra cuttings. Phil, the nurseryman, also gave me two 5-gal. buckets full of compost. I then spent the rest of the afternoon getting all the euonymus and pachysandra planted, as well as a few of the lilies and a couple of the ferns. I finally stopped because the gnats were getting so persistent; they shifted from "snack" to "feast" mode, as I told TW. I was shocked to find I'd been out there, not the 2 hours or so I thought, but 4 hours.

I only managed a scant hour for planting the next day, in no small part because our property in most places has just enough clay to hold the rocks in place. Because it's been so dry lately, that clay is baked solid, too. The only places I could dig down more than 1/2" were the places leaves had collected and started to decay. I decided to take Phil up on his offer to lend me his mini-tiller. Boy, is that one slick tool! Despite the rocks and hard-packed clay, I managed to dig holes for the remaining 17 lilies & ferns in less than an hour!

I've now got an electric mini-tiller on order, which I'll use to work 2 more buckets of Phil's compost into the clay on the north side of the house, where I'll plant a rambler fern, a royal fern, and a "keepsake" mountain laurel. That compost is so rich-looking, I'm hoping the ferns & laurel will finally succeed where everything else I've tried to plant there has failed. So far, the only things that have survived are the wood hyacinths that naturalized from the neighbor's yard and a few of the lily-of-the-valley pips Mom brought me several years ago but which have never bloomed. Oh, and the moss that fills the otherwise bare spots.

The muscles protesting my gardening binge are starting to forgive me, the clay stains on my hands are starting to fade, and my broken nails will grow back. I look forward to my next trip out to the cabin to see how many of these plants managed to take hold despite the wretched growing conditions. (I was very liberal with the compost, as if apologizing to the poor plants.) When I returned the tiller and collected more compost and the plants for the house, Phil offered to check on my plants and water them for me if we don't get rain out there! Bless his heart, I'm definitely recommending him & his nursery to our neighbors out there!

Bye Bye, Birdie

Birdie closed last weekend. Some shows you're sorrier to see close than others; this was one I was sorry to see close. Good cast, fun role, great audiences - what fun!

Our director's pre-curtain ritual includes what he calls a "circle of love". Before each performance, he singled out a few cast members to say a few words about their performance, dedication, talent or what-have-you. By the matinee added our last day, he'd gotten to all of us; what was left for our final performance? A lovely twist - he had each of us say something to and about the person on our left, passing the love around the circle. Some of the tributes had us awfully teary, but the love in the air was thick. It felt like one of our best, if not our very best, performance of the run. I know I sure had a good time pulling out all the stops, especially when I got to rant about Albert not needing me any more.

The cast party on Sunday was fun, and we got presents! Our director had a Birdie mug & magnet for each of us, our stage manager distributed 8x10 cast photos and photo disks, the company president handed out DVDs of the show, Ursula distributed cards & chocolates, and Ursula's mom had CDs of her photos for everyone. First cast party I ever attended where we went home w/ party favors. :D

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

TW may yet get extended

TW called this afternoon to say his deployment may yet get extended because his (insert vile imprecations here) agency still doesn't have a replacement lined up for him! His first thought was the B&B deposit and nonrefundable plane tickets for our vacation. He asked me to look into the travel regs to see whether he'd be able to deduct them or whatever on his travel voucher. The answer, of course, is no. Not that I'm particularly overjoyed at the prospect of paying high-season prices for tickets we might not be able to use, but what really upsets me is that it would be because he's stuck out there. We are both SO VERY NOT ready for him to stay any longer than he has to; a few days, maybe, but this could be an additional month or more!

Ooh, wow, drugs, man...

Yesterday I finally remembered to pick up the flexaril (muscle relaxant) Rx the work doc called in for me last week. They warned me and warned me about the drowsiness - "Don't take it until RIGHT before you go to bed, and be sure you can sleep a full 8 hours". Man, they weren't kidding! I took the stuff about 10 or 10:30 last night and still felt a bit groggy at noon today. I gotta find out if I can split these things or I'm not going to be able to do anything at work beyond keeping my head from hitting the desk.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Or maybe this should be Planning Ahead... Auditioned at 10 a.m. Saturday for the local Christmas Revels. (Apparently they always audition in May; maybe to lock people in and minimize cast members' conflicts?), ran home to change & inhale some lunch before heading off for a 1:30 call for our last two Birdie performances.

This audition was structured a bit differently from most I've done. First of all, they wanted 2 pieces, both to be sung a capella. They prefered you sing a "traditional carol" and another piece of your choice, but "preferably not opera or Broadway". They also specified they were looking for a "clear, straight" vocal tone; first time I've ever seen that much specificity. But then, of course, you wouldn't expect the panel to care about your coloratura if you're auditioning for Rent, or your belt if you're auditioning for La Boheme.

The dance piece was fun, and the first time I've ever done one where we danced with anyone else (i.e., looking at and making contact w/ them) as opposed to just dancing as a group of individuals. They taught us a fragment of a 3-couple set dance, very easy, and I got a partner who apparently was a Revels veteran, so he knew what he was doing.

This was very much a group audition, and not just because they took us in batches; I was in a group of 4. First they taught us the dance bit, then ushered each of us in to sing our solos. We all danced together (the choreographer and another staffer filled out our set of 6), then they had us sing together - first a round, then a bit of a 3-part song (set low enough that I could just as easily have sung the "soprano" as the "alto" line).

I left feeling satisfied with how I'd done. The group stuff was a piece of cake; I wore a "dance-y" skirt, which I played with during our little dance bit, and the group singing was fun. The only scary bit was singing a capella. I hadn't considered that working without an accompanist might be hard. After all, not having to worry about the pianist having trouble w/ notes or tempo is a good thing, right? ;) I quickly realized that the accompaniment hands you your starting note in the intro; I had to restart "America, the Beautiful" because 2 notes into it, I realized that if I didn't start again a little lower, I was going to top out higher than I wanted to sing "naked" notes at that hour of the morning. I could feel the nervousness in my voice, and boy, does that "exposure" force you to focus!

One of the auditioners commented on the dance section of my resume. I mentioned that, while I'd not yet seen a Revels, I'd auditioned once before, done another show w/ a Revels veteran, and 2 of the directors of a troupe I used to dance with had helped choreograph a recent Revels production.

To make a long story short, I learned this morning that I'll be joining their chorus. Yes, it's "just" chorus, but it sounds like the chorus gets to do a LOT of singing and dancing, which suits me just fine. Especially after doing a musical in which I got to do no dancing (unless you count backstage antics) and very little singing. So that's my fall show lined up. Now to start looking at what's going on next spring...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cervical radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy - that's the preliminary diagnosis. (I made the doctor spell it for me.) They changed my computer configuration on Friday; I now have 2 monitors instead of one, which meant they had to change where they sit on my desk. It's an old government-issue metal desk, not designed for computers. "An ergonomic disaster" is how I described it in my e-mail to my supervisors yesterday when I realized the pain & numbness in my neck, shoulder, arm and hand not only weren't going away, but were quickly getting worse. Now they're trying to find a way to either retrofit my desk with a keyboard tray instead of the shallow center drawer (at least 2 weeks to get that in) or replace it entirely with new desk with an electrically-controlled height, depending on how much that would cost and whether they have any in stock.

What's scary about this is how very quickly it came on - barely two working days after they changed my computer configuration! All of a sudden, my right arm and hand - my dominant side, of course - feel a little tingly all the time now, with a slight loss of sensation. I don't know that I can wait 2 or 3 weeks for that keyboard tray. Didn't help my confidence any that the guy who came to look at my desk and demonstrate my options (they've got some VERY cool mouse & keyboard variations out there!) was from the Disability Affairs office. All of a sudden I'm worrying about losing some function in that arm and hand. I'm not even 50 yet - I gotta get several more decades' use out of 'em!

It's a little embarrassing, and I kinda feel like a whiner, but I've put up with this crappy old desk for nearly 3 years without more than the occasional complaint under my breath about the annoying squeak in the center drawer. I think this desk design is essentially unchanged since its origin, long before computers were smaller than entire rooms. My sister the occupational therapist would have caniptions if she saw the desk I work at every day.

Lesson learned: design, especially ergonomic design, matters!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Another weekend under our belts

We survived another weekend. Friday was a little rough in places because we'd had 5 (!) days off, but still a good show. Our stage manager even told me the next day that she thought I was particularly "on" Friday night. One of the audience members was someone I'd done Ruddigore with and who is a good friend of Albert's. So I got a passing "you were good" and he got most of her attention, which is fine. After all, he's her age, good-looking, single and male, while I'm only one of those. :)

Saturday night we had an interesting diversion, if you will. Just as we came to the last chord in the Act I finale, it started raining on the musicians! Very literally raining - it had just started raining hard enough that water was sluicing down along the column in their corner of the nave, hitting the ornamental ring near its top and spraying all over them! We had a mad scramble to move at least the woodwinds and piano out of harm's way, then had a longer-than-usual intermission while the musicians (fortunately only 5 of them) were relocated and the floor mopped.

Also on Saturday, I knew 4 or 5 people in the audience. One was a woman I know from the chorus at work who also sings in the choir of the church where we're performing. She loved the show, kept telling me "You were great! You were great!" B, with whom I've done several shows, was there to see his niece and remembered only when I made my first entrance that I was in it too. :D He's Jewish and teased me in a complimentary way about my accent, putting on one of his own to do it. C is voice teacher to B, his niece, and several other people I've done shows with; she was there with her husband. Both enjoyed the show, but C complimented me specifically on my enunciation and projection: "I never lost a line, could hear every word perfectly." From a voice teacher, that's a rave review! And the best review to date of my characterization of Mae came by way of the mother of our "Ursula". Friends of theirs came to the show to see Ursula and, as her mother tells the story, "We'd been hearing stories about his mother for years but had never met her because she lives too far away. After seeing the show, our friend told us that 'Now you've met my mother!' " So now the reviews from the "native speakers" are trickling in - the ones I've heard are all positive. Gotta love it! :)

I don't know whether I had anyone in the audience Sunday, but I think it was another good performance. The audience certainly gave us our biggest ovation to date when we came out for bows. Especially nice was that Albert complimented me on my "garbage speech" (when Albert says he doesn't need her any more, Mae rants "Go ahead, get rid of me! Put me out w/ the garbage!") later; said it was especially good. What was funny was that after Albert sends Mae home, she rants & raves, then exits in a huff, and the band strikes up "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah", one of the cast members greeted me backstage with "By the way, happy Mother's Day"! Too funny!

Randolph Macafee gave his "mom" a Mother's Day card; charmed everyone who heard about it. Before he gave it to her, he told a group of us that he thought Albert should give Mae a Mother's Day card; everyone laughed, including me. When he followed up by saying Mrs. Macafee was going to get one, everyone thought it was very sweet. It may not have occured to Albert to give me a card, but that compliment makes a nice substitute.

The theater-to-church-and-back-again drill was faster this weekend because our Conrad Birdie not only was directing things in a very organized fashion, but had wisely mapped out the previous weekend which legs and platforms went where so he could direct "traffic" more efficiently. He seems to have an excellent eye for that kind of mechanical thing; you'd never guess he'd never done the "riser drill" before! I managed to get through without a single splinter or smashed finger, though I do have an interesting assortment of bruises on my forearms from moving chairs, legs, platforms, etc. Good thing that fur coat covers my arms. ;) I do have to wonder, though, at the number of people who showed up in skirts, flipflops, mules and other attire completely unsuited to tech. I can kinda see the younger kids doing that the first weekend, but the adults? And a second weekend, when they shoulda learned the first weekend what this was going to entail? Although, in their defense, they may have been helping haul props, costumes and set pieces (and their numbers are legion!) while I was stacking chairs, carrying platforms, and strapping riser legs together.

I learned that after our last show on Saturday, we not only have to take everything apart and reset the church; we need to get the props, costumes and set pieces out of the building! Can't put 'em back in the parish hall storage area, as the company is losing that space. I'm already starting to make a mental list of the things I need to remember to get back (the phone and wooden chair used as props, the 2 mirrors backstage, gloves for Rosie, tie tack for Albert...)

This has been a very social cast. Several of the adults regularly go out for a "sociable beverage" after rehearsals & performances, and the teenage girls seem to have bonded quite well. So well, in fact, that the oldest young woman who plays a teen has been talking about having them all over to her place for a slumber party. That same woman organized a group of nearly 30 of us to go out to dinner for Mother's Day after yesterday's show. This weekend will see 2 more get-togethers: the producer is organizing dinner at a local pizzeria between Saturday's matinee & evening performances, and the cast party is Sunday.

It's also been a physically demonstrative cast. The girls have been doing something my friends and I never did when we were that age. They spend their down time hanging on each other: sitting in each other's laps, wrapping their arms around each other, or lying on the floor like a pile of puppies, with this one's head resting on that one's tummy, who's resting her feet on someone else. Kinda sweet. Albert & Rosie are pretty chummy (not surprising, given the onstage romance), we've been teasing Harry MacAfee about fooling around w/ Mrs. Merkle (although he's just as affectionate with Doris Macafee), and everyone's generous with hugs. Our director has been such a delight, as both director & human being, that I'd audition for something just because he's directing it.