Monday, March 26, 2007


Spring is getting into full swing here. The buds on the Bradford pears in the neighborhood started opening yesterday, the magnolias are just a day or two short of their peak, the cherry trees are starting to bud, the forsythia is coming out all over town, I had a miniature purple crocus pop its little head up in the driveway today, and the daffodils are coming into their own.

Had a lovely ride to my voice lesson today; in addition to all the flowering trees, seems like a few more medians have been planted w/ daffs. I love this trend, whether at the municipal, county or state level. It certainly lifted my mood today, stopping at one of the longest traffic lights and seeing a bank planted in a sea of yellow. My voice teacher even commented that I looked "sunnier" than last week. I told her it was all the "color coming back into the world". Because the winter gray sets in so gradually, I never fully realize just how much it affects me until the spring flowers start making their riotously colorful appearance.

Oooh, sparkly!

Got my wedding & engagement rings back today. The jeweler cleaned & polished them in addition to the repair, and boy, do those little diamonds sparkle! Maybe it's just because they're clean, but they look bigger to me now. Even better, the ruby looks wonderful when the daylight hits it, now that all the gunk's been cleaned out of the prongs. Even in incandescent lighting, it glows more. (Home jewelry cleaners just can't touch whatever it is the jewelers do.)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Gardening update

Picked up 6 bags of topsoil the other day to fill in holes in the "boxes" in the driveway and a few places in the yard; I'll probably do that tomorrow.

The crocuses I planted in the driveway last fall have come up nicely. Mostly yellow, a few white, but no purple ones; at least, not yet. And of the 4 mazus reptans I planted last year, only 1 seems to have survived. I've noticed a few tiny green leaves making an appearance; maybe this year it'll manage better. However, I went ahead and ordered some "walk-on-me" for a ground cover. With any luck, it'll live up to its advertising and spread quickly so the new dirt doesn't follow the old dirt down the driveway and into the street. Looks like it shouldn't interfere w/ the crocuses, and the few surviving sprigs of vinca and pachysandra TW planted there last fall should be ok there too. Maybe this will be the year that dirt between the concrete strips finally looks halfway decent, instead of the semi-eroded weed patch it's been for so long.

My vinca's looking a little peaked so far this year. Maybe it's just the way the temperatures have been changing so dramatically (lows in the 50s one day last week, followed by highs in the 40s the next day!), but the flowers that have appeared so far are smaller and paler than usual.

Busy week!

Been running around like a crazy thing this week. Work's been busier than usual (some sorta bug is making the rounds in the office at one of our busier times of year), went to a Murder rehearsal for some preliminary costume fittings, and of course had Birdie rehearsals too.

Saturday I hit some thrift & antique stores and came home w/ a purse for me to use as Mae; a fur stole that has the entire critter (heads, feet and all); a perfect pearl-trimmed hat for the "star" in Murder; and a tie, 2 dresses, a top, and a skirt, also for Murder actors. So far I've got one of the men completely taken care of; the sheriff needs a pair of trousers and some official-looking insignia; two of the women are completely taken care of, one has half her costumes, and I still have all the rest to do. There are at least 2 for whom I'm going to have to sew something, but if one of them can find 3 different tops, she'll only need another skirt. I'm starting to feel a tiny bit of pressure, but I know that'll escalate as soon as it gets to be April, since the show opens April 27th. Complicating matters is the fact that I'll only be able to make the Sunday & Tuesday before opening, as I've got 3 Birdie rehearsals during Murder tech week. If in future I'm ever crazy (or amnesiac) enough to think I could do 2 shows that open on successive weekends, please remind me that back-to-back tech weeks are NOT a good idea, especially if you have a day job!

Last night I went to a CD release party for Wooing the Lorelei. Great material - both the music & the lyrics are very intelligently and wittily written; the music is not at all predictable and rewards repeat listenings. The songwriter had written these for a cabaret act, and they remind me a lot of Noel Coward, Cole Porter, or the Gershwins. Very sophisticated "stand around the piano in cocktail-party wear while sipping martinis" sort of music. In a fun packaging gimmick, the CD has been pressed to look like an LP; nice touch.

Spent too much time on e-bay this afternoon searching for 50s hats and cats-eye eyeglass frames. I ended up bidding on some glasses w/ clear frames, a crinoline, and a hatbox full of 13 hats! If I win all 3 bids, I'll be able to provide hats for all the ladies in both Birdie & Murder!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


And when I'm too tired, I get irritable and prone to wallow in self-pity. Doesn't help that I noticed at work this morning that I'd lost one of the diamonds from my wedding band. Not a big one, but what looks at a glance like a schmutz on my ring is actually a hole. Makes me miss TW that much more.

Spent most of the day working on a quarterly bean-counting report. My mood wasn't helped by the fact that I spent a few hours on it Sunday, then learned yesterday that I'd been working on the wrong form. (They'd sent out the wrong one.) I wasn't surprised, though; I'd thought on Sunday that it was a whole lot less work than in the past. Royal pain in the tuckes, with some inadvertently (I hope!) unreasonable statistics requested. Wretched thing is due at noon tomorrow, but is gonna hafta go in with one section incomplete, since I ran out of time to get to it and will be busy with visitors tomorrow.

Another irritation: The company for whose Pirates I auditioned is already soliciting additional tenors for the chorus, while I have yet to hear whether they want me for the chorus. (I didn't get called back, so they're obviously not going to offer me a lead.) I've had a problem w/ this MD once before. I was one of 3 being considered for a role. One of the wannabes learned that night that she wasn't cast because she saw the MD at a concert. The wannabe who did get cast found out the following day that she was the lucky one when someone else in the cast congratulated her on getting the role! The MD called me at work the day after that, commenting that "I forgot we hadn't called everybody". You "forgot"?!?!? (OK, c'mon, take a deep breath; now let it out s-l-o-w-l-y.)

Beautiful day today, and most of the crocuses seem to have survived the cold blast over the weekend, but because I'm tired, these irritations still have me in a pissy mood. At least I don't have to be at rehearsal until about 8 tonight; can catch up on e-mail and my blog and still have time for a reasonably relaxed dinner.

Friday, March 16, 2007

"Duty-free" night

The rain that started falling last night had turned to sleet by late afternoon today, so instead of running errands and getting dinner out, I picked up some (wonderful-smelling!) Chinese food on the way home. I'm taking this execrable weather as a sign that I'm meant to do nothing, not one blessed thing, on my To Do list tonight. Instead, I plan to change into sweats or some such, put Singing in the Rain into the VCR, and curl up on the couch w/ my Chinese and a glass of wine. There'll be plenty of time tomorrow for all those To Do's...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cow video

Yes, I said "cow video" and a very silly video at that:
I think it's the trumpets in the chorus that really had me laughing, but some of the puns were pretty good, too.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Voice lesson in which I sang not at all

Since I probably won't audition for anything else before fall, today's voice lesson was a planning session - long-term vocal projects (picking things to work certain techniques, vocal color, etc.), reviewing the types of things in my repertoire (3 categories - Broadway, G&S, and opera), and picking a few things to prep "for future reference". She told me something interesting: some teachers, especially when they get a young student, will tell them to audition for nothing for at least several months or even as much as a year! I guess that's so the student will have plenty of time to focus on correcting bad habits, learning new ones, developing technique or what-have-you. That's my guess, at any rate, based on the fact that this arose in the context of our observing that we haven't worked long & hard on any one thing in my lessons lately because I've been doing so many auditions this season (13 since August, and 3 in a single week back in January!).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Last audition of the season?

Auditioned for Pirates of Penzance tonight. Didn't do badly, but not as well as I'd like, either. And there was another mezzo who I'm betting also has her eye on Ruth and has a better voice than I do, and I know she's not my only competition for the role. So I don't expect a callback and, given my other theatrical commitments, I may not take chorus. TW was funny when I talked to him earlier today: "When will they start rehearsals? ... So you'd be rehearsing two shows?!? You're gonna kill yourself!"

On the other hand, much as I love Pirates, if I pass on it, that'll give me more time to work on those curtains for the cabin, which I haven't even started yet.

Lotsa knife fights this weekend

On stage, that is. Saw Wait Until Dark last night and a version of Carmen: The Tragedy of Don Jose today. Both had people trying to kill each other. Last night's fights were very realistic; all the moves looked very real, the violence read as authentic, and the falls looked and sounded as if the person falling would be getting up w/ bruises. (The guy who got knifed and fell down a partial flight of stairs probably does have bruises.) Today's weren't so much fights as stylized knifings - "kill him quick and keep the plot moving" sorta thing. But Don Jose did seem to be pretty quick to solve his differences that way; he killed 2 or 3 of Carmen's lovers before he killed her.

Lots of obsession this weekend too. Friday night it was Rene Gallimard's obsession with his Asian "butterfly" (M Butterfly), this afternoon it was Don Jose's jealous obsession w/ Carmen. In both cases, it ended badly.

"Winter visitors"

Been seeing a lot of slate-colored or dark-eyed juncos lately. I don't know where they've been hiding all winter, that I didn't notice them until a few weeks ago, but it's fun to watch 'em hopping around in the snow. And since they always seem to travel in groups, they make quite a striking picture, with their dark coloring against the snow. (Or sleet, a few weeks ago.)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Flying solo

Back in December I "certified" to teach a day-and-a-half specialty class at work. The last step in the process was teaching with the course manager observing from a corner. Yesterday and today was the first time I taught solo. I think it went well; last time I had a few folks who really struggled w/ the material. I made some notes to amend what I covered and how; this time all but one of them sailed through everything. The one non-sailor struggled but is nowhere close to failing; it's simply a matter of determining how much above the cut-off that person's final is. Felt good - knew my stuff, was able to answer the questions, and best of all, they did really well on the final exercise (7 of them definitely scored in the 90s; the 8th may just pull it off too).

I did have to put in some extra time to prep for the class and get the "finals" graded this afternoon and will need to spend a bit more time tying up administrative matters, but success is a good feeling.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Good voice lesson

Last week's lesson, the first in nearly a month, wasn't particularly productive because we'd had another sharp weather change that filled my lungs w/ crud. This week's, however, was much better. Due to a bit of confusion, I showed up at 4:30 when K wasn't expecting me until 6:30. After some discussion, I headed off to a leisurely dinner, then returned for a 6:30 lesson. I don't usually like to sing so soon after I've eaten, preferring to give the digestive juices plenty of time to settle, but the burger, fries and hot tea didn't seem to hurt me. I walked into my lesson without warming up at all, yet in the vocalises my voice didn't crack at all until I got up to a high C (not bad at all for a mezzo!), then proceeded to go down to a G below middle C. Over 2 octaves, cold - I was pleased! We then worked on an audition piece for Sunday (Pirates of Penzance coming up). Listening to the tape in the car on my way home, I actually liked a fair amount of what I'd done, which was very encouraging. Now if only I can do that well come Sunday...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Calendar juggling

Thank heaven my voice teacher is flexible. I had to reschedule next week's voice lesson once because I found out about a mandatory meeting that starts just when I'd be leaving work for my lesson. Then I learned I've got a rehearsal that night, starting less than an hour after the start of the rescheduled lesson time, so I had to go back and ask for a new lesson time. Let's hope this third time works out, or I think my brain might explode!

The next week is pretty crazy - adjudicated a show last night, Birdie rehearsal today, seeing a friend's show tonight and another tomorrow afternoon, rehearsal tomorrow night for the show I'm costuming. Monday night rehearsal, Tuesday voice lesson, Wednesday friend's show, Thursday dinner w/ a friend (not a theater-related calendar item!), adjudicating shows next Friday & Saturday nights, friends' show on Sunday (w/ another theater friend), and an audition that night. Maybe I can reschedule my headshot session during the day on Saturday; heaven knows, I can't squeeze it in any sooner!

April & May will be more of the same: in addition to the show I'm costuming and the one I'm in, I have one to adjudicate, five that various friends are doing, and 2 others I auditioned for and would like to see.

Here it is, barely March, and I've already seen more shows than I often see in an entire year! Now I completely understand why my Theater Mentor color-codes her calendar! However, I'll drop it all like a hot rock once TW comes home in early July, and will be much more restrained when the next season starts in the fall. After all, one he's safely home again, I won't need to keep my mind off his absence.


Not to mention snowdrops, and even a clump of precocious daffodils! I had one lone brave, advance-wave crocus that popped up and bloomed about a month ago, when we were still in the throes of temperatures that never got up to the freezing mark. Then nothing but a few shoots until earlier this week. Our highs started passing the 50-degree mark around Tuesday, then into the 60s, so I'm not all that surprised that my crocuses have started popping up. Usually it's the purple ones that show first, but this year I've got at least half a dozen yellow ones and nothing else, aside from a snowdrop or two, and yesterday I noticed a house in the neighborhood had a clump of daffodils in full yellow glory. We've got a fairly shady lot so our bulbs tend to appear later than elsewhere in the neighborhood. The springlike temps have had everyone in a good mood after last weekend's snow, but the crocuses clinch it for me - they've always been my sign that winter is on its way out and spring is in the wings, just waiting for its cue to make a grand entrance.

Now I want to drive by this one house a few blocks away. It sits on a corner lot and every spring has a yard that's a sea of lavender crocuses. It does my spirits good to see it, even on the rainiest day.

My allergies hate spring (my lungs are already starting to fill with crud), especially once the trees start pollinating their fool heads off, but I absolutely thrive on those first signs of spring's arrival. Now I'm itching to run out and buy truckloads of soil for the vinca I ordered last month and to fill in the driveway so I can plant something there, too. I have no idea when I'm going to manage that, what with my own and other people's shows, but I'm definitely going to carve out some chunks of time to start digging into the garden, both literally & figuratively.

The importance of geography

For anyone who ever thought "geography - who cares? Why do I need to know how to read a map?":

One answer, obviously, is "to prevent hugely embarrassing international incidents"!