Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rain, rain, come and stay

Rain in the forecast, to start sometime today or tonight, with "risk" (why "risk"? what happened to "chance"?) of thunderstorms tomorrow. I can already feel the front moving in; I woke up w/ a migraine that came on like a freight train. In the 15 minutes between the alarm going off and bringing in the morning paper, it went from "migraine imminent" to "lie down before my eye explodes" - never good! I took my imitrex as soon as I got up, followed it w/ a can of Dew, but quickly realized that my usual procedure of going to work and doing brainless things while waiting for the meds & caffeine to kick in wasn't going to cut it. So instead, I cut my losses - called in sick, then went right back to bed.

TW called (and woke me up) around 7:30 but quickly got off the phone with a promise to call back a few hours later when I told him I was down w/ a migraine. Smart move - he's seen just how pointless it is to try to talk to me when I can't bear to open my eyes.

The migraine isn't helped by the pollen-induced sneezing fits and other miseries, which is why I find myself cheering on the weatherman when he predicts rain. "Rain, rain, come and stay - wash this pollen all away!"

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pollen poisoning

Friday we finally got some wonderful weather - sunny, cloudless skies and temps in the 70s, after not seeing the sun since the previous Saturday and enduring highs only in the 40s. Gorgeous! And the beautiful weather lasted right through the weekend - the joggers, gardeners, walkers and stroller brigade were out in force. The dogwoods, azaleas and other late-spring flowering trees and shrubs have really popped out - looks wonderful.

Unfortunately, the tree pollen was out in force, too. Monday's pollen count was 2000 and yesterday's was even higher - two thousand two hundred! To put this in perspective, the non-allergic start feeling it when the count gets to 150-200, and the allergy sufferers start feeling miserable when it's as low as 50. As a result, I've been walking around with what feels like the granddaddy of all head colds, eyes that are swollen and itchy, a sore throat that extends halfway down my sternum, I've been sneezing my head off, and I even ache all over. This is the time of year I want to move into a nice, sterile bubble until the trees quit spreading their pollen indiscriminately over all & sundry.

I just hope and pray the pollen count backs off a bit by the time we open next Friday. I always lose my voice for a day or two around this time of year; the last thing I need is to have laryngitis on opening night! =:o

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Chipping away at the backlog

So this is what back-to-back tech weeks is like...

Saturday I had a day off!, so I caught up on some dishes & laundry and even stole some time to play in the dirt - watered my impatiens and dumped several bags of topsoil in the eroded spots in the driveway and the spot by the basement steps where the clay settled after the sewer reconstruction of a year and a half ago. Saturday night a fellow Birdie cast member and I went to see Thoroughly Modern Millie and absolutely loved it. Good show, well cast and well performed - wonderful!

Sunday started the marathon - from work I went straight to Murder rehearsal. Costumes are not where I'd like, but given the time constraints I was working against, well, I'll have to live with the results. (Poor little theater company - they're getting what they paid for.)

This week might as well be tech week, as we have rehearsals every night except Friday (opening night for Murder; guess where I'll be that night)! Saturday is our last "normal rehearsal"; Sunday is load-in and run-thru w/ tech. Gonna be a long one; call is at 1, and we're scheduled to run until 9. It'll be interesting to see if we actually do a cue-to-cue, or if they'll still be pointing lights and such. Tuesday is when it'll start to get real - that'll be our first rehearsal w/ costumes & orchestra.

Not even tech week and I'm already tired. I may leave work early on Friday and go home to take a nap.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Enough already!

When I called home Sunday, Dad answered and obviously had a very bad cold. Serious head congestion and at one point he had to hold the phone away while he coughed. Long and hard. At which point I told him I'd get off so he didn't have to try to talk. Mom took him to the doctor yesterday (with her immune system still recovering from the chemo, they weren't taking any chances) and called me later to say Dad was in the hospital w/ pneumonia! Apparently they took him off the IV (meds & rehydration) earlier today and, if all goes well, he'll get to go home in the morning.

Sounds like it was never all that serious, but Dad's 79 and not in the best of shape, so when Mom told me he was in the hospital, well, I was a wee bit worried.

The Illness section of my prayer list is getting so long, I may have to subdivide it - parents, breast cancer, other cancer, other illness...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Happy anniversary

... to us! TW sent me an anniversary present, which arrived Friday. However, because it was insured, the carrier left me a pick-up slip instead of the package. Saturday I was at the post office and had just given one of the staffers my ticket when TW called. He was surprised I'd gotten the package so quickly and told me he'd call back in about 10 minutes, once I got home and had opened the box! When I told him he'd better give me more time, as I'd only just given them my slip, he stayed on the line until I actually got the box. I had only just gotten home and pulled out the scissors to start opening when he called back (he doesn't know the meaning of the word "patience" when he's giving presents). Turns out he'd sent me a set of pearl jewelry - necklace, post earrings, and bracelet. Freshwater pearls, very white, and small, so they're subtle. Very pretty, and I really like the bracelet because it has a section, set off by a gold spacer bead on either side, with graduated pearls, so that the centermost is nearly twice as large as the "regular" pearls.

TW also very generously solved my dilemma of an anniversary gift for him by buying himself a set of 4 woodworking DVDs. I didn't have to shop, wrap or mail - all I have to do is pay for them when the credit card bill comes in. :D

Garden update

The daffodils are pretty well spent, the tulips are starting to open, yet I still have crocuses in the driveway! For all that I planted them all at the same time and to the same depth, I got a few new purple ones popping up last week.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that some of the mazus I planted in the driveway last year is coming back. Not very thick, but it's making an effort, and yesterday I noticed that the one closest to the street actually has a few flowers on it!

Yesterday I stole some time to run over to the nearest nursery and get my annual "fix" of impatiens. Three colors this year - white, pink & purple, which I planted in the bed under the mailbox, where they always do so well. Instead of mixing them up, this year I planted the white in the back and along the front steps, the purple along the front of the bed, and the pink in the middle. Very conveniently, it started raining yesterday evening, so I didn't have to water the new residents. (Although I will have to water the one little impatiens which is so sheltered by the house and a corner column that it got almost nothing from the drenching we got.)

Thanks, I needed that!

Ooh, just had 2 wonderful shows in 4 days! My voice teacher & I went to Merry Widow Thursday night. Some quibbles about the costumes & make-up, and some of the blocking wasn't as lively as I could have wished, but the music was absolutely GLORIOUS!!! I love pretty much every note in the show, and hearing it live had me blissed out every time they got to one of the hits from the show. Work had been particularly aggravating that day; knowing I had Merry Widow to look forward to helped me get through the day, and the music most definitely did not disappoint!

Then this afternoon we saw a Condensed Mikado - no chorus, most of the chorus numbers and verses to all the remaining songs cut, Pish-Tush' material given to Go-To, so the show fit into an hour and a half. I was surprised at how very much I liked it. Perhaps because it was in a black box theater and the players were therefore that much closer to the audience, the actors' faces seemed much more mobile. It was certainly one of the most playful Mikados I've ever seen, and I've seen plenty - the actors were obviously having a lot of fun, which made it fun for us in the audience. I loved the characterizations, which might have seemed over the top in a traditional production but which were absolutely perfect in this context.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tax time

With Birdie & Murder eating my evenings & weekends, I had to take a day off work to do the taxes. With TW deployed, we're eligible for a 6-month filing extension, but that doesn't mean an extension if you owe the IRS any money, so I had to at least rough in the numbers to learn whether we'd have to pay.

Lotsa problems, mostly because for some reason a few key things weren't in the "2006 Taxes" folder. For starters, if TW printed a copy of last year's return before e-filing, I couldn't find it. And the softcopy was lost in the Great Computer Crash of September 06, so in the morning I'll mail off the forms to request a "transcript" of last year's federal return (free, whereas a copy of the actual forms runs $39!) and a copy of the state return. I also couldn't find a couple of our year-end statements. Had all the documentation been where I expected to find it, this would have been pretty easy. As it was, a padded cell was starting to look pretty good...

It didn't help that it took me at least an hour and a half to get the miserable computer ready to start; seemed as if every time I tried to do something, I'd get a pop-up telling me I needed to update one application or another.

I can't help but wonder how much it'll slow things down that TW isn't here to sign the forms. I've got copies of his orders and hold power of attorney, so I can always submit copies to the IRS and the state, but - correct me if I'm wrong - doesn't that sorta seem to defeat the point of e-filing?

Not again!

We got yet another Birdie rehearsal sked yesterday! That's it; I'm gonna hafta tell the Murder director & producer that I just can't do it. When I can't count on off days staying off days and I'm therefore not able to plan thrift shopping, I don't see how I can finish costuming Murder. Not if I want to stay employed or avoid booking a room at the local mental facility. Although, now that I think about it, it'd probably be nice & quiet there, no responsibilities... Nah, the other inmates would probably get on my nerves. ;)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Now there's a stage direction I never expected to get!

Running one of the Act II scenes Wednesday night, the director was trying to get me to play a particular exit ever bigger and told me "Try to steal the show"!!! Talk about a stage direction I never expected to receive! After all the years I've spent in the chorus, where pulling focus is a capital offense, I just had to laugh. I can play big, I just have to unlearn that "never pull focus!" habit.

I must be starting to get it, though. When we ran the scene Thursday where Albert tells Mae he doesn't need her any more, I played Mae in what I thought was a ridiculously melodramatic, over-the-top way and the director didn't bat an eyelash. This is gonna be fun! :D

May have to bury "Murder"

We got yet another Birdie rehearsal sked on Wednesday. This one has me called for rehearsals almost daily - that's right, evenings and weekends - until we open, including all of tech week and opening night for Murder Takes the Stage. I had to e-mail the Murder director & producer to warn them that I might have to pull out, and I've just spent time assessing what costuming I have and what I still need. I was dismayed to find I'm not nearly as far along as I thought or as I'd like to be, 3 weeks before opening. However, I do have several pieces for people to try on; if those work, we'll be much closer to complete costumes.

I hate bailing on a commitment, especially given that they open soon, but I signed on for Birdie first. If I ever try to do concurrent shows again, somebody PLEASE stop me!

Halfway home!

TW hit the halfway point of his 6-month deployment earlier this week. We're counting down to the day he gets on that homeward-bound plane - can't wait!!!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Feeling ever so slightly crazed

Now that it's April, I'm realizing that Murder opens 3 weeks from Friday and I've only clothed half the cast. One of the women just e-mailed me that a skirt we were planning to use for her character doesn't fit after all, and would a linen one be ok? Sure - do you have one that fits and is a late-50s cut & length? Please say you do!

And our poor Birdie director just issued yet another rehearsal schedule update - this must be at least the 6th or 7th version. The church where we rehearse and will perform keeps changing the schedule on us, which means having to redo the sked again. It's a wonder poor Frank isn't completely bald from pulling his hair out in frustration. So now I have to figure out if I can still go grocery shopping & thrift shopping when I'd planned to or will need to change because of the rehearsal changes.

Saturday, which I'd earmarked for baking (and taking a friend to Easter Vigil services), is now on the schedule as a choreography rehearsal day, numbers TBD. If I'm lucky, they won't work the one dance number I'm in (except I don't really dance; I'm one of the 6 standing on blocks ), so I won't have to reschedule my plans. If I do have rehearsal, though, my baking decision is made for me - rum cream pie is faster & easier than either apple or carrot cake, and much less messy.

Work's been nuts - what with spring break, broken pipes, ailing parents or kids, and vacations (the nerve of some people!) all happening much too close together, those of us left to hold the fort are perfecting our one-armed paperhanger imitations. I racked up an extra 6 hours last pay period without even trying, and I'm already well on my way to doing the same again this time. A collateral duty I picked up when someone else left is trying hard to become a full-time job all by itself; if it doesn't slack off soon, I'm gonna hafta ask for some help because I'm spending barely 10% of time on what's supposed to be 80% of my job. And won't that wreak havoc w/ my year-end performance review! =:o

TW called this morning and asked if I'd send him some cold meds. Poor baby, he sounded horribly congested. So after not getting out of work until it was much too late to get anything in the mail today, I stopped and got him his cold remedies. Had to ask the pharmacist for one of 'em (pseudephedrine in it). Poor guy looked pretty harassed about the process and was apologetic when, after I gave him my military dependent's ID, he had to ask for my driver's license because that's what the new regs require. Now to box it up so I can mail it off tomorrow. That'll be my excuse - "I have to leave on time today - gotta get to the post office before it closes." Never mind that it'll be a week before he gets it, by which time the cold will be in decline.

Waiting for the MVA to send the registration stickers for my car. I shoulda had 'em by now, especially since the old ones expired Saturday. Until then, my car sits in the driveway while I take TW's to work. (And one of these days I gotta get those bags of dirt outta the trunk. The way gas prices are going up again, I can't afford to schlep that stuff around for no reason.)

And I still have to do the taxes! Rehearsing one show & costuming a second is devouring my nights & weekends, so I guess I'll have to take a day off work to get the tax job done. At least with all the comp hours I've worked, I won't have to take "regular" leave. :p

But when, oh when will I get a chance to play in the garden? I haven't even shopped for impatiens yet, let alone bought any, and I have all that vinca to be planted (if it hasn't died by now), and dirt to spread, and...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A nice dilemma

Hmm, what to fix, what to fix? I'll be joining friends for Easter dinner and am supposed to bring a dessert to go with the coconut cake someone else is baking. I submitted a lengthy list of "candidates", which the hostess narrowed down to three: apple cake, carrot cake or rum cream pie. There'll only be 7 or 10 of us around the table (one family of 3 may or may not attend depending on the health of fragile parents) so I don't need to make a big dessert.

I have a fleur-de-lis cake mold and a mini-Bundt mold; I might make a dozen minis instead of a single full-size cake. But that would mean washing & re-prepping the pan between batches, not to mention that one recipe makes one full-size cake (12 slices) but only 9 minis. That's fine if there are only 7 of us, but if there are 10, I'd have to abstain. Or I could make 2 cakes - one apple and one carrot - have far more than enough minis to take to Easter dinner, and still have enough to share with our neighbor.

And then there's rum cream pie. This has been a Christmas tradition in our family for as long as I can remember, in no small part because an old family friend (he's known my 50-years-married parents longer than they've known each other!) loves the stuff. As do I. We've also made it for other occasions; it's always popular. Might be a chance to introduce it to a new audience.

I could make rum cream to take to dinner and a cake (or a batch of minis) to share, since the rum cream is a refrigerator pie, not a baked variety. Mix up the cake, slide it in the oven, then make the pie. (I haven't baked since right before TW deployed; I think I'm going thru baking withdrawal.)

Care to weigh in? Feel free to vote. :)

Mom's energy level...

... must be almost back to normal, at long last. When I called home today, Dad said Mom was busy in the kitchen, fixing brunch for the local contingent of the family (3 of my siblings, their spouses, and 7 of the 10 grandchildren). Dad said this is the first time in probably a year that Mom's felt up to doing this - a very good sign indeed! Mom absolutely thrives on having family around her and loves feeding us, so she must really be having a good day. She'll probably crash & burn once everyone leaves (don't worry, no one will let her clean up afterwards), but I'm sure she's delighted that she's back in action again at last.