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: http://visualthesaurus.com/?w1=bissextile+year

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!