Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Don't worry - I'm not one to wax philosophical, or at least not at length. I just hope that all 2 or 3 of my loyal readers have a good new year. May you weather life's trials, may at least one dream come to fruition, and let us know when you can join us at the cabin! :D

We wish you a Merry Christmas...

Spent Christmas w/ the family and it was good. We got in late Christmas Eve, so getting up for 7:30 mass the next morning was tough, but it was worth it. I joined Mom (organist), K and her family (3 of them playing brass for prelude carols, one son singing bass) to provide the music and it was great. Best of all was closing with Joy to the World. Mom always - always - modulates to a higher key for the last verse, which I absolutely love because it adds to the joyfulness of the music. I'd been looking forward to it, and was already happy to be singing with family. K's voice & mine blend well together anyway ("that genetic thing", as another sister quipped), and her son, well, same genetic compatibility, which added to it. By the time we got to Joy to the World and that long-awaited final verse, I was singing away with tears running down my face - glorious!

The rest of Christmas Day was a bit crazed, partly because I still had to wrap all the presents we'd mailed ahead to avoid the baggage fee for the extra suitcase they'd've needed. H and her family arrived for the weekend that day, and the boys were SO full of energy after being cooped up in the car. And of course there was all the cooking and last-minute prep that needed doing for dinner for 26, since there's only so much you can do ahead. But it was fun, everyone was healthy, my nieces' nightgowns were big hits (though the younger one's was so big it dragged on the floor), and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Friday was only slightly less quiet, partly because we were having dinner at Mom & Dad's again, this time including J's in-laws, who got into town that day. Dinner was mostly leftovers, which was just fine - I happen to love left-over turkey and the carbs that usually accompany it.

I also managed to squeeze in a visit with a friend I've known since grade school, the Chief & I treated ourselves to a coupla goodies at Williams-Sonoma, and we even got a little quiet time with my aunt & uncle (who were putting us up in their guest room) despite spending a LOT of time at Mom & Dad's cooking & cleaning up afterwards. Our last day, though, as I was helping Mom assemble dinner, she commented that she'd miss her "kitchen buddy" when we left. I gotta admit, it was fun sharing a kitchen with her.

The only down side was the "plague" - my oldest niece was the first one to come down with a virulent stomach virus that also attacked both her brothers and one of my brothers-in-law, and which hit the Chief the night before we were supposed to come home. Fortunately, it didn't hit him very hard - he was able to get a halfway decent night's sleep, and it abated enough that he was able to get through the flight home without incident. (Thank God it was a non-stop!) He then went to bed almost as soon as we got home - slept nearly 6 hours over the course of the afternoon and evening.

He also came home with a cold, which I'm now getting. Bleah! I've already sent our regrets to the hosts of the New Year's Eve parties we had planned to attend, and it looks like our weekend at the cabin will be spent blowing noses, coughing, and dining on chicken soup. Good thing we have plenty of nice, cozy throws out there, as well as a decent stash of firewood

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Then shall the lame man leap as an hart..." *

Mom was telling me about a Christmas party they went to last week, which boasted a small combo playing music for dancing. My father, who has been so crippled up by repeated major back surgeries and several joint replacements over the past several years that he still uses a cane most of the time, actually managed to DANCE a little!!! Mom admitted he was a bit wobbly, but given that at one point the doctors weren't entirely sure he'd be able to walk again, this is wonderful news!

* Recitative #19, Handel's The Messiah, quoting Isaiah, IIRC (I don't have my score handy).

Singing Messiah and getting paid for the privilege!

When my voice teacher asked if I'd be interested in helping swell the numbers of her church choir when they sang pt. 1 of "The Messiah" for the 4th Sunday in Advent, I agreed almost before she'd finished telling me any details. I haven't sung any Messiah in years and jumped at the chance; and she was going to let me sing a solo too? Where do I sign! Then came the kicker - she planned to pay me for something I'd happily do for free. After all, while I know plenty of people with paying church jobs, I'm not one of them. In fact, the running joke in my church choir when someone is late to practice or makes a mistake is to threaten to dock their salary (of $0).

Yesterday was our Sitzprobe, if you will - our sole rehearsal with the full complement of instrumentalists (violins 1&2, a viola, and a cello in addition to the organ). We'd been rehearsing with the organ all along, and the 1st violin (the organist's husband) had joined us Thursday, but having all 4 strings really made a difference! And it was SO cool to stand up there and sing "He shall feed His flock" with them right off my left hip (it's a very small chancel)!

I found the service a little disorienting. It's a Methodist church (I'm Catholic), and this was a special service, I was sightreading 2 of the 3 non-Messiah hymns, and I was relieved when they put me at the end of the processional line. Not a problem - I knew it would be unfamiliar, so I just watched everyone else - but as I joked with Mom later on the phone, it can't have been hard for the congregation to figure out that I was a visitor. The Messiah, however, generally went quite well. The first soloist had to clear his throat a few bars into his first solo but recovered nicely and sounded quite good thereafter. The first chorus got a little off track when one section made an entrance in the wrong place, but we recovered within a few bars and after that, the choruses were probably the best I'd heard us do. I felt good about how my solo went, got some nice compliments on it, and was able to sincerely compliment the others. It felt a little weird to go to someone else's denomination of a Sunday morning, but somehow I don't think God will mind overmuch if my prayers occasionally emanate from a church with a different "brand" out front. ;-)

Party, party, party!

You can tell it's December - I attended 3 parties in as many days!

Thursday was the big day at my new office, and what a partying bunch! Secret Santa drawing, and the white elephant ("Yankee swap", present-stealing) game, a door-decorating contest, a most-festive-attire contest, and a vast potluck spread with beer & wine among the beverages.

Friday was the Chief's office party which they also made his retirement party. There were the usual serious presentations (including a certificate and poinsettia for me), as well as some pretty good friendly ("beers of the world") and gag gifts. They obviously have some bakers in the group, as the potluck included homemade fudge and Christmas cookies. They also played the gift-stealing game; I suspect my husband didn't know he had been included, judging from the look on his face when they called his name as the next to open or steal a gift. After the party, we then proceeded to prep for the next one, going out to pick up the ducks we'd ordered, then going home to continue cleaning, polish silver, start getting the table ready, etc.

And Saturday was our dinner party. The table looked lovely, the food was OK (how do I keep it from getting cold so fast even when I warm the serving dishes?!?), and the company was great. We had rather more glitches than usual (e.g., put the jellied cranberry and the Chief's homemade cranberry sauces in their dish, which we left in the fridge; loaded up the CD player then forgot to turn it on), but nothing major. It was lovely to be able to sit and talk uninterrupted for hours; if we succeed in getting them out to the cabin, we'll be able to look forward to more of the same.

Whew; chance to catch my breath.

My, but we've been busy the past week or two! I got my nieces' nightgowns finished Tuesday and all but a few presents boxed up & mailed by Wednesday. We've been cleaning and decluttering and even decorating a little for a small dinner party last night, I've had rehearsals for my voice teacher's Messiah this morning, a Merry Widow rehearsal or two, an audition (not cast but I may well tech), saw a friend's show last weekend, made a dent in our Christmas shopping, and the usual grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, etc.

Friday & yesterday were particularly busy, with all the last-minute prep for the party, complicated by a migraine-inducing front that chose this weekend to visit. (Not that there's ever a good time to get a migraine, but still...) But we still managed to clear the worst of the clutter, shoo away the dust zoo (forget dust bunnies; we were finding rhinos, hippos, giraffes and I forget what-all else!), polish silver and get the food cooked. Today we were too tired to do much more than finish the dishes and read the paper.

The party went well, for all that it was much more intimate than originally planned. Between scheduling and family emergencies, we ended up with only 2 guests. However, as we hadn't seen them in months and months, it was nice to have them all to ourselves.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Already checked out on Snopes.com.....it's for REAL! Doesn't take but a couple minutes, please send one! This is a wonderful site. Just takes a minute and well worth it!! XEROX IS DOING SOMETHING COOL

If you go here, you can pick out a thank-you card, Xerox will print it, and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services. How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! It is FREE and it only takes a second. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against the war, our soldiers over there need to know we are behind them. This takes just 10 seconds and it's a wonderful way to say thank you. Please take the time and please take the time to pass it on for others to do. We can never say enough thank you's. Thanks for taking to time to support our military!

More waiting

Another audition last night, for a company I'd love to work with. I auditioned for them once before, but this time I was able to say I'd take ensemble. (Ensemble in Thoroughly Modern Millie was out because my knees won't stand the punishment of tapdancing.) My singing wasn't great - tone not my best, though I thought my diction was good even at the brisk tempo I requested. The dance audition wasn't bad, though there was a novelty: when my group went in to learn the dance combination, the choreographer told us that it was 6 sets of 8 counts, but she'd been instructed to advise us that "anyone over 40" was not required to do the last set of 8! None of us opted out, though one of the men in my group did inquire jokingly a couple of times about an "over 48" option. I dropped or added a step at the end the 2nd time we did it for the panel so that I didn't finish in the right place, but on the whole I don't think I did badly.

Callbacks are tomorrow & Saturday; I haven't heard anything, so obviously I'm not called back. Not a surprise - I figure they had 80 or 90 people show up, so if I get ensemble I'll be pleased. And if I don't, then it's back to searching the audition notices. TW keeps urging me to audition for a straight play; that's definitely an option.

What do I want for Christmas? an extra week or so

Though I'd settle for a day or two. I think the problem is that, for the first time in years, I've got a show in rehearsal in December. And I'm learning one of the Messiah arias, and I'm making those gift nightgowns, and we're giving a dinner party next weekend and therefore have to clean, declutter and decorate. And for all that we really need to get the Christmas presents in the mail if we want them to arrive before New Year's, only about half of them are bought. Oh, and there's all those records I have to dig out for my new office. (Sure hope those last couple of things are in the safe deposit box, 'cause I can't find 'em around the house.) In addition to the usual laundry, grocery shopping, bill paying, cooking & cleaning that never go away, no matter how much I might wish it.

So, yeah, if you have a spare hour or two you can send my way, I won't even ask you to giftwrap it.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Nightgowns, nightgowns, nightgowns

This seems to be a nightgown year for me. First I had to make a nightshirt for my Modern Major General and a nightgown & mobcap for his 6' daughter back in May. Now I'm working on the first of 2 flannel nightgowns for my 2 youngest nieces. They'll be very cute - the nearby fabric store had some lovely flannel prints. I just hope they aren't too huge - I'm making them one size larger so they can grow into rather than out of them.


TW decided we should have a small dinner party in a few weeks, which means that not only do we have to do the usual cleaning and decluttering, but we'll decorate for Christmas, including a tree. (Since we nearly always spend Christmas out of town, with my family, we don't get a tree. Most years we don't decorate at all.) So we spent perhaps an hour this afternoon shopping for a Christmas tree. There's a tiny patch of parking lot between two mom-and-pop establishments near us where an enterprising soul is selling a small number of Christmas trees which he told us he gets from a farmer in the next state over. Unlike so many such lots, where the trees were cut a week or more ago, his trees are quite fresh - the needles on all the trees we looked at were soft and green, and there were very few needles on the ground. They were obviously freshly cut, and smelled soooo good! We settled on a nice little balsam fir, which is now sitting out on the back deck. We'll probably bring it in and put it in the stand tonight, and may decorate tomorrow.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

That high-priced organic pumpkin

In case you were curious, the pumpkin pie turned out very well indeed - the pumpkin filling barely separated at all. (Separating is an unavoidable problem with custard-type desserts.) The finished texture was every bit as smooth and even as the pumpkin puree, the top didn't get overbrowned - definitely one of my better efforts. Not sure whether I'd go out of my way to go organic again next year, but I did save some of the seeds. If they end up germinating and the critters leave them alone, next fall I may have all the pumpkins I could possibly want right in my own backyard. Not that I'd want all 10 seeds to "take" - I'd have way too many pumpkins then! On the other hand, maybe I could sell them at the local farmer's market and make a few bucks for the half-and-half and other pie ingredients. ;-)

Architecture and religious outlook?

While spending the holidays with the Chief's family, we took a day trip to West Point. Beautiful day for it - mild for late November, and not a cloud in the sky, which made for some very impressive views of the Hudson. We also stopped inside the Catholic and Cadets chapels. The Catholic chapel is rather small - seats maybe 150 or 200? The interior is wider than it is tall, with ornamented wooden beams, and an architectural style common in the late 19th century. The interior is painted white or cream, and they've got lots of traditional stained-glass windows (mostly saints, dedicated to the memory of this or that alumnus). The overall effect was of an airy, fairly bright, cozy sanctuary.

The Cadets Chapel is much larger - probably has room to accommodate a congregation of several hundreds. It's modeled on Europe's 14th-century gothic cathedrals, with the stained-glass windows in the upper half of the walls and done in a preponderance of deep blues and dark reds. The layout is more what I associate with Episcopal churches, with a railed-off, slightly elevated altar area, where you also find the organ and seating for the choir. The whole building is in local stone, of a fairly dark gray. Between that and the dark colors in the stained glass, the sanctuary was quite dark, almost gloomy (though the sun had started playing hide-and-seek by then; might be different in full sun). The Chief pointed out how precisely the Bibles and hymnals were arranged at each place. Wonder if the cadets leave 'em that way or if someone goes down each row straightening them after each service?

After seeing the Catholic chapel, we were both struck by the contrast between the two - the Catholic chapel well-lit and almost intimate, the Cadets chapel huge, dark and imposing. Made us wonder if they were designed to reflect a loving, personal (New Testament) God and a stern, Old Testament view of God.

The Cadets' organ was something amazing - the organist was working on something from Handel's Messiah, maybe setting stops. The console had a good 6 rows (that I could see) of organ stops, and there were ranks and ranks of pipes in the front section, with more down the sides and in the rear of the church. I really enjoyed hearing it in action, though I couldn't get any pictures of the console for Mom, as I didn't want to disturb the organist while he was so obviously hard at work. The Catholics, on the other hand, have a much smaller, more modest organ, almost entirely contained in the organ/choir loft. Probably perfectly suited to the smaller space. Pity that chapel was empty - I'd've liked to hear the organ in action.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pumpkin, take 2

The Chief, knowing how I feel about canned vs. "real" pumpkin, drove me to that fancy-schmancy grocery store to get a pie pumpkin yesterday. The fool thing cost $1.49 a pound! So it's organic; so what. That was a $10 pumpkin! More, when you add in the cost of the gas to get there, and maybe even the $2 I spent on the first one. And yet... When I cut it open, it was a lovely dark orange color, with nice, meaty sides. When I cooked & pureed it, I got lovely, thick, smooth pumpkin puree - if it tastes half as good as it looks, it'll make wonderful pie for Thursday, and pies, cakes and bread until I've used it all up. I even ended up saving several of the seeds to try to grow next year. I have no clue what I'll do with more than one pumpkin - this one alone yielded nearly 1/2 gallon of pumpkin! - but I'm sure I'll come up with something.

And that's tonight's agenda - making a pumpkin and an apple pie to take to Thanksgiving dinner.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

So much for the pumpkin

For all that I know better, I still bought a rather yellowish, jack-o-lantern pumpkin for my baking. Mistake! Afer baking it the other night, then nuking it some more tonight, I realized that nothing was going to make it moister or a richer color. (The redder the meat of the pumpkin, the better the flavor.) It was still going to be pale & dry - good for wine but bad for pumpkin pie. I ended up throwing the whole mess in the trash. >:-(

I may break down and trek over to the fancy-schmancy grocery store where I know they have pie pumpkins, just so I don't have to resort to the canned stuff. Or I may be lazy and use the canned pumpkin I keep on hand for emergencies. I mean, do I really want to make an extra trip to a grocery store this close to Thanksgiving, and for just one item, if it's not absolutely necessary?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank a veteran!

I'm married to a veteran, I'm the daughter, niece and granddaughter of veterans, I work alongside them, I see them all over town whether I know it or not - people who signed on the dotted line and gave their country 4 or more years of their lives. Thank you, ladies & gentlemen!

Two down, one to go.

We're now 2/3 of the way through our run; our 2nd weekend went well too. We had very full houses both Friday & Saturday, and Saturday's house included friends & family of 4 of our von Trapp children. Our Friedrich's dad is also in the show (Baron Elberfeld in the party scene, and one of the Nazis) and comes out w/ the other 2 Nazis for the first bow. We knew his family were in the audience that night because that's the only night the Nazis got cheers for their bow! :D

We actually had a fully sold house for the matinee! In fact, the box office even sold "seats" that didn't exist - they sold a couple of patrons tickets for the wheelchair spaces! Did they think they were working for an airline? There were other seating "issues" at the matinee too; so many that we started at least 20 minutes late while our overworked producer and her husband got things sorted out. The audience seemed to forgive us, though, as they were very receptive, and remarkably lively for a matinee audience.

This weekend the applause increased for the nuns every time we took our bows. I'm sure that's due at least in part to the fact that we're on stage for the final "Climb Every Mountain", which is quite stirring, but it's still hugely gratifying to be in such an anonymous chorus (not all choruses are dressed identically, after all) and still get that appreciation.

We learned at the pick-up rehearsal that our costumer had suffered a heart attack earlier in the week, so we were all surprised & pleased to see him at the matinee and cast party. I've got a couple of costume repairs that I'd offered to do for Liesl and Luisa before we knew our costumer was back on his feet, which I still plan to do. He needs to get himself mended before he worries about a ripped seam or a hem that's coming out.

More apples, and a pumpkin

Yesterday we swung by one of the local orchards out near the cabin. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they still had several varieties of apples, so I bought 1/2 peck each of Yorks and Jonathans - more apple pies & cakes are in our future. However, TW also lobbied for us to buy one of their pies, so he wouldn't have to wait for me to bake. Buying from an orchard, we knew they'd use fresh apples, not that canned pie-filling glop. The orchard bakery's recipe is a bit heavy on the nutmeg and doesn't include any ground cloves, but it's otherwise pretty good.

I also bought a pumpkin, larger than I really wanted but one of the smallest they had, for my almost-annual pumpkin "rendering". Possibly as soon as this weekend, I'll bake the thing down, run the "meat" through the blender, and freeze it in one-cup units for future pies and cakes. Pumpkin pie really does taste better with fresh stuff, not canned.

It's really a pretty straightforward process - I pick the reddest-orange pumpkin I can find (the darker the color, the better the taste), cut it across its "equator" and scrape out the seeds, place it on a baking sheet (cut side down) with a rim on it, then bake it for an hour or so at... hmm; I think my Joy of Cooking said 325 degrees? Anyway, I scrape out the meat of it and buzz that and the pumpkin juice in the blender until it looks like orange applesauce. I may not even freeze all of it, as I'm completely out of pumpkin (the 2 cans in the cabinet don't count) and I'd like to make some more pumpkin bread for closing night.

Sneak attack

I do hate it when the weather sucker-punches us. Friday was gorgeous, and the highs got up into the 70s! I actually opened up the front & back doors (which still have the screens in) by afternoon to take advantage of the unseasonably mild weather. Saturday & Sunday were a bit cooler, but still nice. Yesterday, however, November made it clear that it had arrived - the high was only in the 40s and a brisk, chill wind was blowing pretty steadily all day. Today's no warmer; TW actually pulled out his down coat (couldn't find his winter jacket) when we went to dinner this evening. Even though the high was close to 50, it felt colder because we've had so much mild weather lately. This is the sort of quick change that makes me wonder if we're gonna get clobbered by a heavy snowfall. As long as it waits until I can stock the larder, I won't mind a snow day or two.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Warning to diabetics - read no further!

TW just left for the cabin about half an hour ago; I'll join him there Sunday night, after the matinee. He just called from the road "to say 'I love you'." His next words were more prosaic: "Now I gotta get off the phone and drive." :D

Shortly after we got married, one of my friends asked me what it was that drew me to him, since he freely admits he doesn't sing, dance or play an instrument and he has no particular affinity for languages. It's his heart - he's emotionally generous to a fault, and not stingy, either. (He routinely buys a cartload of stuff for our parish's annual "baby shower," has been known to pick up the check for servicemembers in uniform dining at the next table, and is a sucker for any children's charity.) He's not much into this whole theater business, but he tolerates my running off to rehearsals and shows, and occasionally helps out with the tech side for my sake. Yes, it would be nice to have a husband who dances, but it's far more important to have one who treats me like an unexpected treasure. Even though we're not technically newlyweds anymore, we still feel that way much of the time. It's wonderful!

God help the Obama administration...

...because he got one helluva mess dumped into his lap Tuesday night. I just hope & pray that people can let go of the "my point of view on subject X is the only right one" that is so easy to fall into when one gets carried away by the campaign process and instead get down to the herculean tasks Obama's got to deal with. Actually, that's not a bad analogy - Hercules had 12 impossible jobs to tackle - those stables to clean out, the Hydra to subdue, and 10 other dangerous tasks that had killed or maddened others. For the country's sake, let's hope Obama is able to make some headway with the problems he's been set.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More wonderful music

Just got the e-mail offering me chorus in The Merry Widow. You bet I'll take it - I love that music! And since I've learned that the 3 embassy wives will be cast from the chorus, I still hold out hope that I'll get that little bit more to do. But even if I don't get Olga, Praskowia or Sylviane, I'm looking forward to spending the next few months with Lehar. I even ordered a CD of Lehar waltzes, which came on Friday.

Oo, oo, oo - ballgowns and opera gloves and jewelry and wonderful, lush, extravagantly romantic music - can't wait!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

That's one weekend down, two to go.

Opening night went remarkably well - one or two small problems with lines, and a set piece that went out backwards, but scene & costume changes (and Maria & the kids have some very tight changes!) went smoothly; one patron commented that she "didn't notice" the changes. Hurray!

It's always something of a relief to get past opening night. As I told one friend, hearing applause from total strangers, rather than the friends, family or between-duties crew who sometimes sit in the house during Tech Week, lets you know you really are doing a good job. They're not just being polite because they have to go home with you afterwards. :D

Yes, it's a feel-good show, but the stage version is pretty different from the movie most of our patrons are so familiar with, and of course no one is Julie Andrews, so staging Sound of Music immediately puts you up against certain expectations. However, I heard some good, complimentary comments on the music, the costumes, the sets (our designer accomplished some great feats of engineering!), which is always gratifying. Last night, when the line of nuns stepped forward to take our bow, the applause actually intensified, which almost never happens for the chorus.

We've got our set & costume change routines down pretty well now, which is pretty amazing given how very many tight costume changes and intricate scene changes there are. Those will only get better; by the end of the run, we may have our running time under 2:30 just due to that. For me, the offstage piece is the challenging one. As a nun or party guest, I walk on, sing or deliver a single line, then walk off. That's it - no choreography, no props to fiddle with, none of that. As crew, however... I set and strike pieces for at least 4 scenes, assist a couple others, have one tight change of my own (from party guest to nun), help Liesl with 2 of hers, and generally pitch in collecting props, clearing the way for moving set pieces, and so on. Feels like I'm making a larger contribution off stage than on.

I'm just as glad there's no matinee this weekend; gives me a chance to chip away at the backlog of housework. First order of business? Grocery shopping! The fridge has looked more & more like Mother Hubbard's cupboard the past few days...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sisters, sisters...

The nuns in this show have come together remarkably well and have made this production a lot more fun. We've also been a supportive bunch; one of our sisters lost a grandparent while we were in rehearsal and had to miss a few rehearsals to go to the funeral. Various of us have been late because of work or family things that had to be taken care of, or missed rehearsals for illness. The late or absent nun always got a "how are you? are you OK?" when she arrived. Last night, two of our number were quite late; one because of a work emergency, the other because she had spent the day with friends in from out of town to attend a memorial service for a close friend of all of them. Each arrived frazzled and upset and immediately was surrounded by a flock of mother hens, offering hugs and "Hey, it's a rehearsal, not a performance. You'll be fine."

It's also been fun to see how our Maria and von Trapp kids have bonded. Our Maria really does mother them, they get along like siblings, our Liesl also mothers the rest of the kids - I think it's contributed a lot to how well they do on stage that they get along so well off stage.

These friendships sometimes continue, if only on a back burner, long after a show has closed. For example, the Albert Peterson to my Mae Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie over a year ago still calls me Mamma when we see each other.

This sort of thing puts the "community" in community theater. It doesn't happen with every cast, but I've seen it happen often enough that it not only doesn't surprise me, but I probably secretly hope for another such experience with each new cast.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Busy week

Of course it's a busy week - it's Tech Week! In addition to daily rehearsals since Saturday, I also managed to squeeze in an audition Sunday night for a production of The Merry Widow. Requested one of the embassy wives or Njegus (they're casting it as a mezzo, not the usual baritone); wasn't called back and haven't heard anything, so I'm guessing that means I'll be in the chorus.

Doing very little tech week sewing for this show. All I have to do is adjust the fastening for my nun's collar and sew myself a new coif because the one I was issued is too short to stay tucked into the wimple. I bought a pattern & fabric yesterday, so today I sew. That means I'll only get one rehearsal with it before Sound of Music opens tomorrow night, but that shouldn't be a problem. My other costume prep is similarly minimal - starch the wimple in hopes of getting it to lie flat and press the habit & scapular.

Had one little "incident" last night. Two of us nuns are responsible for setting and striking the table for the scenes on the von Trapp terrace (Baroness von Schraeder, Max and the Capt). Last night we were striking it after the first terrace scene and had a few difficulties: no one was holding back the curtain leg we needed to get past, people were standing in the space the table needed to go into, and a huge "wall" was much too close. I learned of the wall's position the hard way, when we swung the table to avoid hitting people and my hand (the dominant one, natch!) suddenly ended up between the table and the corner of the "wall". Ouch! Tonight I'm posting a sign asking people to leave the table space clear.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Don't give 'em any ideas!

If you've flown recently, or even priced fares, you can relate. I just hope this doesn't give the airlines any ideas...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Um, yeah, it's been a while, hasn't it?

Lots of little things conspiring against me lately - TW installed the newest version of Internet Explorer on our computer, which promptly wreaked all kindsa havoc. The computer is mostly working again, but some things still work either s-l-o-w-l-y or not at all, and that only after TW spent 2 or 3 days trying various fixes.

Last weekend a cousin (well, actually, a parental cousin, but never mind) was in town because she had written 3 piano vignettes for a program in a series for the Lincoln bicentennial. We went to the program Saturday night, then met her for brunch on Sunday and had a nice, long visit - just great!

With Opening Night fast approaching, we started running full acts a week or so ago and did our first full run Wednesday night. Monday night we loaded the set into the theater, today was the Sitzprobe (first run-through w/ orchestra), tomorrow is our first rehearsal on the set, Monday will be our first full dress rehearsal, and we open this coming Friday.

TW's car has been headed for a new transmission for a while now, but this past week it started leaking fluids. He'd been hoping to get another 6 months to a year out of it, but after learning that even a rebuilt transmission would cost almost as much as the car is worth, he decided to bite the bullet and replace it now. He spent a few nights researching cars on line, following up on what he'd learned when I was going through this exercise. Last night we did some carshopping and he ended up buying himself a nice, new Matrix.

Today TW stopped first at the bank to move some money around to cover the check we wrote last night for the down payment, then to the dealership to sell them his Saturn, and from there he went to the cabin to drain the pipes (they've had overnight freezes out there at least 3 nights out of the past 4 or 5) and check on a few other things. His first drive in his new car and with his new cruise control.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Won't be long now... My back started spasming right after dinner, to the point where I realized even Rx-strength motrin wasn't gonna do it. I broke down and took a muscle relaxant, called to say I wouldn't be at rehearsal tonight after all because the pill would knock me out. "My brain is going, Dave; I can feel it, Dave..."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Too many apples?

No, but getting close. The peck of Jonagold apples my sister & I bought 2 weeks ago have gotten too soft to bake (one cake only used 4 apples), so they're now simmering in my 8-qt soup pot - applesauce in the making.

I stopped at the same orchard Saturday on my way to the cabin. The Yorks are in now, so I picked up 1/2 a peck. Yesterday TW and I went to a local apple butter festival, where one of the apple vendors actually had Jonathans! They used to be common as Romes or Macintosh and always came into season just in time for my birthday, but the past few years I've been unable to find any at all, so I bought 1/2 peck of them.

For those of you keeping track, that's one peck of apples bought in a single weekend, when I hadn't finished the first peck. Two pecks = 1/2 bushel, in case you were wondering; methinks I overbought just a bit. So yesterday I borrowed a pie plate from our cabin neighbors and returned it w/ a pie in it; that took care of half the Yorks. Today when we got home, I first cut up the Jonagolds for applesauce, then the rest of the Yorks for a pie. Not only does the house smell wonderful, but because we've got the doors & windows open (turned out to be another gorgeous day), we're sharing the olfactory wealth with the neighbors.

That still leaves the Jonathans, but because we've already started snacking on them, I imagine I'll only need to bake once or twice more to finish them off.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Worth every penny!

TW was saying the other night that we'd "lost money" on the cabin because what we'd have made on a sale since all the work we had done on it wasn't as much as what we'd've made if we hadn't done anything but upgrade the kitchen (which desperately needed it!) and replace the roof. But he readily agreed with me when I pointed out that we were enjoying the cabin and not exactly planning to sell anytime soon.

Then this morning he called from out there (I'll join him after rehearsal today), talking 20 words to the dozen about how gorgeous it is, he'd already taken a long walk and seen 15 or 20 deer, including a young buck, he'd opened up all the blinds and had the sun pouring in... On and on and on. I mentioned bringing stuff out to make an apple pie; "No, I don't want you working out here; just come and relax and enjoy." (He, on the other hand, was about to start sanding the deck some more. He does enjoy working on the place.)

His enthusiasm was enough to make me wish I could skip rehearsal. It was so good to hear him so upbeat, since work has been getting him down lately.

No, the cabin is not an investment property, unless you stretch the definition to include investing in one's own mental health. A shrink might be cheaper (we've spent a lot on repairs and improvements since we bought the place), but this will last more than 50 minutes a week.

Monday, October 06, 2008

How to make your house smell wonderful

Baked an apple cake after dinner tonight. Only used 4 Jonagolds, but they were big - nearly softball-sized! The recipe only calls for cinnamon, but I added dashes of nutmeg, clove, allspice, even a sprinkle of ginger. The house smells so good now!

Some of this will go across the street to our neighbor, whose birthday is tomorrow and who loves this particular cake, even though it's not frosted. TW joked as usual about keeping the whole cake for himself, but it's all in good fun. Depending on how the weekend goes, though, I may well end up making either another cake or an apple pie. (I bought a lot of apples last weekend when my sister & I stopped by the family-run orchard near the cabin. I gotta use 'em up before they go bad.)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

It's a wonder I don't rattle.

Just when I thought I was over my cold, the cough started reasserting itself last week; not just refusing to go away, but getting worse. The after-hours doc diagnosed bronchitis, so now I'm on both anti-inflammatory steroids and an antibiotic so I don't pick up any secondary infections.

The ironic thing is that a friend & I sang for our parish's monthly healing mass this afternoon. He'd just spent 2 hours at his son's soccer game, inhaling allergens, so between his allergies and my cruddy lungs... Let's just say it's a good thing there were 2 of us, so one could keep things going while the other coughed or cleared a throat.

Dinner tonight? That chicken soup I made for my ailing hubby earlier today - lovely comfort food.

Escape artist

Just call that pup Houdini...


"Jewish penicillin"

Poor TW's down with the cold I'm finally getting rid of and right now is at the worst part of it - head stuffed solid, coughing, and not sleeping well because of it. He eagerly took me up on my offer to make what he refers to as "Jewish penicillin" - chicken soup. Easy enough to do, as we still had most of a chicken left from dinner the other night, as well as the basics - celery, onion, carrots. When I asked whether he'd like rice, barley, or noodles in it as well, he said "Yes!" In other words, throw in a little of each. We'll see how that combination turns out, but at least it smells good.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Having fun already

I collected my sister from the airport yesterday afternoon and she immediately started catching me up on things in her family - much to tell! We fed her a nice dinner, using the fancy china, crystal & sterling, though we warned her that "after tonight, it's back to the everyday stuff." We regaled her with stories of our Williamsburg weekend, we laughed at the kid stories she told, and she & I stayed up to watch a movie while TW went to bed. (After all, he had to work today.) We only managed half the movie before sending our tired selves to bed, but we still have the rest of the movie to look forward to.

One of the things that will make this a lot of fun is that, like me, she likes to quote appropriate song lyrics, and since we know a lot of the same songs, well, pity my poor husband! :D

Right now we're enjoying the process of deciding what sightseeing is best for a completely overcast, threatening-rain day...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beautiful day in the neighborhood

The weather was very close to perfect when we got home on Sunday so I decided it was high time we finally put the screen in the storm door, never mind that we'll want to put the glass back in another month or so. I'm so glad we did! We've had the windows open even during the day (with the window stops or "burglar buttons" in place, of course) and opened the front & back doors when we got home from work. It's been lovely, despite the car alarms, barking dogs and the rest. I can't do this in spring, so I'm that much more delighted when we can do it in late summer or in the autumn. I just hope some of this lovely weather sticks around for my sister's visit - she arrives tomorrow.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My "inner milliner" is happy

Couldn't resist; bought a shallow-crowned, wide-brimmed straw hat at Williamsburg when I found a shop that sold 'em untrimmed ($18.95, vice $45.95 and up for decorated ones) as well as a cap to go under it. As I told the cashier, I'm bound to be in some show or other for which it will come in handy.

Mom reminded me that it was her paternal grandmother who was the milliner; did the hats for the ladies in the wedding party when Mom's parents got married. I'm sure she'd approve, though I don't know whether she'd admire my restraint at not buying the untrimmed felt hat as well, or smile knowingly at my reasoning that "I'll buy it on our next visit."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More proof that I married a good one

We were in Williamsburg this weekend w/ my folks (who are there for a week in a time share). Saturday we went to Colonial Williamsburg and got a wheelchair for Dad, whose balance is still just iffy enough and whose leg is just unreliable enough that we didn't want to take any chances with the uneven surfaces and all the walking. Dad's new shoulder is still recovering and is still under doctor's orders not even to consider trying to wheel himself lest he tear something. My huge-hearted husband did the bulk of the chair pushing - if Mom tried to "get behind the wheel", TW would politely but firmly take over. He didn't get to see much as a result, and had to coax that chair over brick sidewalks and up and down hills (fortunately neither too long nor too steep). He did this with nary a word of complaint, though Mom did manage to get in some time "behind the wheel", and he didn't protest when I "drove" Dad from our last stop back to the shuttle. Poor guy - he slept long and well last night but is still tired today.

He & I will definitely be going back on our own sometime in the next year so he can actually go in and see all the exhibits he's interested in, not just one or two.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Is fate picking on women?

My prayer list is loading up fast, and most of the new names are women: one friend's mother has breast cancer, another friend's mother has a brain tumor, a female friend is going thru some personally & professionally very trying times at the moment, another had gall bladder surgery last month (her 3rd surgery in as many years), and one up and died, leaving her husband a widower again (poor man has now buried 2 wives). Yes, she'd had serious health problems for years, but still...

Not that the men have it all that easy - a neighbor of ours at the cabin was diagnosed w/ Parkinson's in his early 40s, there's my friend who's a widower again, the friend whose mother has the brain tumor.

On the other hand, I learned last night that a Birdie alumnus, who's a struggling grad student (or is that redundant?), just landed an absolutely perfect job. The job is with a non-profit, making a difference in the educational lives of disadvantaged children. He'll be doing exactly what he wants to do with his PhD, but before he has the degree. Better, he can use the database he'll create as his dissertation. Best of all, he'll be getting a salary that is a better than living wage, with full health benefits and a retirement plan! This is a huge burden off his shoulders; I'm delighted he was able to land a dream job that pays 2 or 3 times what he expected to get.

Music - current and potential projects

Went to buy some music yesterday - 30 Songs for Voice & Piano by Faure, to work on in my voice lessons, plus an oratorio anthology and a big, fat book of Cole Porter songs. We had already decided that I'd get the Faure to find a French piece to work on, since that's a language I'm comfortable with, and I love Faure's music. I'll also take the oratorio book to my lesson this week to see if my teacher thinks there's something in there I'm ready to work on. The Cole Porter is just because I like that stuff and want to have the music handy, just in case. I was tempted to pick up some Irving Berlin or Rodgers & Hammerstein too, but figured I needed to leave something unbought. That will give me an excuse to make another trip, as well as making the purchases more manageable. After all, with each anthology running an average of $20, it's all too easy to run up a very big bill indeed.

Now I'm really looking forward to this week's lesson...

Housework; sigh

Spent the day doing the domestic diva thing, mostly laundry - seven loads, including the bedding off both beds (2 duvet covers and 1 blanket included), all the bath and dish towels, and even the tub mat, shower curtain and liner from one bathroom. Almost none of this stuff is folded yet, but at least it's all clean, not to mention that the shower curtain is ironed (it's cotton - I had to iron it) and back in place, clean sheets on our bed, clean towels in the bathroom, and so on. I also made a huge bowl of salad and "containerized" it for lunches for the next coupla days so we can have healthy lunches that don't cost money better spent on costumes or power tools. ;-)

I'm tired & achy from make so many trips down to the basement, but feeling virtuous. (Now to get all this laundry folded and off the sorting table, um, living room couch...)

Monday, September 08, 2008

G&S marathon

How was it? Exhausting but worth the sleep deprivation. Plenty of high points, starting with opening the weekend with a rousing chorus of "Hail, Poetry". All those voices - thrilling! And then, several wags following it with "Play ball!" :D Well, it is the de facto anthem of so very many G&S fans. ;-)

Got to hear some wonderful voices ("Sweet & Low", from Utopia, Ltd, was another high point), see some great cut-ups, sing Hail, Poetry as Ruth with a good-sized chorus behind me making the stage fairly vibrate, sing alongside some fun people, reconnect with some out-of-town friends and make new ones. Not enough time to visit with everyone I would have liked to, but at least we were in the same room for much of the weekend.

Singing Grand Duke was fun - our principals did us proud. I found it a bit boring sitting on the risers waiting for the chorus' next entrance, but of course that wouldn't be an issue with a staged production. Still not sure whether I'd want to do Duke again, but if I do, it had better be an edited version; that's one G&S that's ripe for some judicious pruning.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Electile dysfunction

Every 4 years I have this problem - I get so fed up w/ the bloviage, mud-slinging and obfuscation that I pretty much tune out all the campaigning until mid-October. So when a friend sent me this today, I just had to share it:
Electile Dysfunction: The inability to become aroused over any of the choices
for President put forth by either party during an election year.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Are you ready for the End Times?

Although K & I met through community productions of G&S, we never actually did a show together. The closest we ever came was when she teched a show I was in, or I once loaned several sets of finger cymbals and a tambourine to a production of Patience that she was in. Apparently we look just enough alike that at least one friend thought at first that we were the same person. :D (He once complimented her on "her" performance in a show that I was in; she had to sit it out.) As a result, we used to joke that we were matter and anti-matter; should we ever manage to appear on stage together, it would be the end of the world.

Well, K was in town for the G&S Sing-Out this weekend. She mostly sat in the audience drinking in the music or hung out in the lobby getting caught up with friends she hadn't seen since she moved out of the area years ago. But yesterday morning, before she had to leave to go back, she & I sat on stage, together, singing the Yeomen of the Guard choruses from a shared score. We even have pictures documenting this momentous occasion.

So it's happened - we have now sung on stage together! You'd better make sure your will is current and the rest of your affairs are in order, as the end of the world is just around the corner.

Monday, August 25, 2008

No more auditions for a while

The Sound of Music producer called me yesterday to offer me "a nun" and Baroness von something-or-other (it was a very bad connection). Two ensemble roles, in other words. Which is OK, if the Morning Hymn we sang at callbacks is typical of what the nuns get to sing. And if, as the Baroness, I'm a party guest, maybe I'll get to dance, perhaps a waltz or even a laendler.

Can't wait to find out who else is in the cast. Given that this is my first show with this company, I wonder how many people I'll know. We open on Halloween, which is gonna be tough for the kids playing the von Trapp children - imagine giving up trick-or-treating!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sr. Mary me?

Got called back for a nun in Sound of Music. I thought that, at least for the would-be nuns, there was less pressure than at initial auditions. They gathered us all in the "media room" (which in my day would have been called simply the library), had us take turns reading a scene, then herded us into the same music room where all the auditioners sang in the first round of auditions. The MD drilled us on the 4 parts of the Morning Hymn from the show (only the first 6 or 8 bars), then had us sing it in groups of 4. I got to sing twice; once on each of the 2 middle parts. (While I sang along as she drilled us on each part, the Soprano I was too high for me to sing piano and the Alto part was too low for me to have any volume to speak of.) Loved the chord structure, and it sounded wonderful when we all sang it in one big group!

They weren't sure how many of us they'll want - maybe 12, maybe only 8. Now it's more waiting - they promised again that they'll call each of us, one way or the other, by the end of the weekend. I should know by Sunday whether I've been accepted into the order, as it were, and whether I'll play one of the named nuns.

The friend I think would make a great Maria got called back for Baroness von Schraeder. I hope she gets it - I love seeing her on stage and hearing her sing.

Monday, August 18, 2008

That went well

Auditioned for Sound of Music last night. I haven't seen that many children, mostly little girls, at an audition since I did Music Man - would-be Von Trapp daughters seemed to outnumber the rest of us by at least 4 or 5 to 1! My group of nine consisted of 3 teenage girls, 4 younger girls, the father of one of those teens, and myself. I'd eaten dinner on the way to the audition (Grand Duke rehearsal ran just late enough that there was no time to go home in between) and arrived with my throat still gunky w/ digestive juices, so it was just as well that it was a good hour and a half before they got to me. By then my throat had cleared so that I was able to sing my piece easily. The acoustics in the room were good, too, despite the carpeting - I'm becoming a fan of auditioning in rooms with cinderblock walls. The MD/accompanist played a bunch of random notes for each of us to test our pitch matching; I enjoyed watching the impressed surprise on her face when I was able to sing everything she gave me easily and with good support. Doesn't every performer love that kind of feedback?

The "dance" combination was a piece of cake - really just a short movement combination, very simple. (After all, they were giving it to everyone, including the children.) That one was fun - maybe this was my chance to "redeem myself" after blowing that last dance audition. ;-D

They'll be notifying people Wednesday morning about callbacks, and letting everyone know, one way or the other, by the end of the weekend. I feel that I'm a cinch for ensemble; depending on the other adult mezzos who audition, I might even have a good chance at a role.

A friend and fellow mezzo was also there last night. I think she'd be a charming Maria (R, I hope you get it!), but she'd be good at any role they give her. Unless they get a lot of dynamite mezzos, I think she'll be a shoo-in for some role, and has a good shot at Maria.

Theater weekend

This was one of my heavier theater weekends - the Chief and I went to 1776 Friday and I saw some of "my" pirates and Stanley daughters in a youth production of Cats on Saturday (the boys already have surprisingly rich bass voices and the girls were similarly impressive vocally). Saturday afternoon I went to a "work party" for the Labor Day G&S marathon - I was on "button duty", helping assemble the buttons we'll be selling. Yesterday afternoon was Grand Duke rehearsal, and last night I auditioned for a production of Sound of Music (along with a lot of little girls!).

Attended 2 shows, auditioned for one, had a rehearsal for yet another, and worked for a theater company - all that was missing was a performance and maybe a bit of costuming or work on sets. ;-)

How to make a tough week even worse

SO VERY glad last week is over! Migraines every morning Tuesday through Friday, though meds & caffeine generally chased them away after a couple of hours. Friday night, though, was a different story. The Chief & I were watching a few theater friends in 1776 when, about half an hour before intermission, I started getting the usual warning signs. By intermission it was already getting heavy, so I was upset to realize that I had NO migraine meds with me! No imitrex, no "mega-motrin", just some wussy OTC "pain relievers", which I was desperate enough to take anyway. All through Act II that migraine came on like a freight train. I managed to gut it out, but the instant the lights went down at the end, I practically threw the Chief out of his aisle seat, urging him to "go!" We managed to get a large sheet of heavy-duty (thank heaven!) foil from one of the theater volunteers before getting to the car as fast as I could bear to move. Not a fun ride home - I felt every bump, every pothole, every pavement seam, every time the Chief touched the brake or accelerator. Let's just say I was grateful that, no trashcan liners being available, I had that big sheet of heavy-duty foil to line an empty box. I threw meds at it when we finally got home, then went straight to bed. And just to add insult to injury, despite the meds, I still had enough of the blasted migraine left when I got up Saturday that I took more meds & went right back to bed for another couple of hours.

Migraines for five days straight - I think it's time to have another little chat w/ my doc about these wretched migraines.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

KKs coming!

My sister hits a milestone birthday later this year, so the Chief suggested sending her a plane ticket so she could vacation at the cabin for a weekend or longer. She made her reservations last week! She gets in on a Wednesday to spend Thursday & part of Friday playing tourist, then Friday afternoon it's off to the cabin for the weekend. Hurray!

Gonna be fun - we get along famously now that we're grown. (We fought like cats & dogs growing up, didn't start to change that until I left for college.) However, in the multi-ring circus that's our family, she & I rarely get more than 5 uninterrupted minutes together when the Chief & I go out at Christmas. Now we'll have hours and hours to talk about anything and everything. I think this'll be a birthday present for both of us, not just her.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wonderful news from Mom's oncologist and Dad's surgeon

At Mom's check-up last week, her oncologist "promoted" her to only 2 check-ups in the next year. Even better, they removed the portacath installed 2 years ago for her chemo - we LOVE the implications of that!

Imagine - Mom has now beat (fingers crossed!) three types of cancer - breast, skin, and now lymphoma. If she must collect all these cancers, at least she's not letting them win.

Dad's doing really well too - Wednesday will mark only 3 weeks since his shoulder replacement, yet his range of motion is already up to 150 degrees, from 110 degrees immediately post-op, with a goal of 161 degrees! The doc warned that the muscles will still need a full 8 weeks for full recovery, but he was very impressed with Dad's progress.

Now if we could just keep them both healthy... !

Checks the calendar...

Yep, it's August, but you wouldn't know it. Gorgeous day today - negligible humidity, clear sky, temps barely into the 80s - wonderful! As soon as I got home from work, I opened some windows and the back door to let the breezes in and turned off the a/c. It's supposed to get down into the 50s tonight - this will be lovely sleeping weather tonight. Given that it took me forever (at least midnight) to fall asleep last night, tonight should be much better.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

That wasn't so bad.

Recital is now behind me. The 5 of us all seemed to do better today than we did at Friday's run-through, for which I can think of several possible reasons: it wasn't right after work, at the end of the work week; we had an audience; the audience was composed of family & friends who were rooting for us.

The whole thing only ran about half an hour, including the church chimes sounding a modified Westminster, followed by the 3 chimes for the hour. I had the shortest piece, but even the tenor who did 3 pieces (2 of them little things by Richard Strauss) probably didn't sing for more than 5 minutes. Our accompanist (a concert pianist!) followed beautifully, which always helps a lot. I could feel my voice cutting out on me, instead of singing the smooth, unbroken line I wanted it to give me, but the Chief commented afterward that I sounded "pretty damn good, actually." :D

Afterward, we all partook of the juice & munchies our teacher provided while we congratulated our fellow recitalists. The Chief was "my" only audience member, so I was flattered when some of the other attendees complimented me on my performance. The mother-in-law of one of the other recitalists even tried to recruit me for a motet group she sings with, and for a chorus at the local university! It seems they're short on altos and are getting by with sopranos working in their lower register.

Two women came up to me and told me they marveled at how I could sing "when she doesn't seem to be opening her mouth!" :D When I mentioned that my teacher had been trying to get me to realize that I don't have to open the front of my mouth all that much to get more sound, that I should open the back, they realized that their (voice teacher? choir director?) had been trying to tell them the same thing. They apparently hadn't expected to see that in practice; guess they have something to think about for their next voice lesson or choir rehearsal.

I also did a bit of recruiting among the other students for a production of The Merry Widow I hope to do next year. I especially worked on the 2 men. The one is just starting and doesn't have a big voice yet, but he's a tenor and can hold his pitch. The other has quite a nice tenor and really nailed his high notes this afternoon. He would have a good chance at the comprimario tenor bits, and if he can control his nervous fidgets when he sings, he might even get something bigger.

Friday, August 01, 2008

My first recital, coming up fast!

This afternoon we had a run-through w/ the accompanist for Sunday's recital. One of my teacher's students had to pull out when her work schedule changed, but she came to the run-through anyway, just for the experience. She's quite young and seemed a bit nervous, but that didn't seem to hurt her.

There will be 5 of us singing come Sunday afternoon. The others are all doing a bit more than I am, but that's OK by me - the little I'm doing is about as much as I could reasonably manage, given Pirates, work and life in general. I didn't do my best this afternoon, but I did pretty darn well, considering how little warm-up I'd done on the way over (15-minute drive). Nice acoustics, lovely accompanist, and we all served as audience for each other and were suitably sympathetic. ;-)

I had been getting pretty nervous about this thing, which is silly - it's not as though I've never sung solo in front of strangers before. For heaven's sake, that's what auditions are! Now, though, having sung with the others, I realize this will be OK unless it's a Code Red day and I don't manage to get enough warm-up to clear the worst of the crud.

Volunteer flowers!

Looked out the back door last week and realized that, in with all the weeds that moved into my flowerboxes because I never got around to planting flowers there, I have 2 portulaca plants! One's got yellow flowers, the other has pinkish-red ones. Free flowers - how cool is that!

I don't know how they got there, but I'm guessing it might have been the birds that like to forage in among the weeds for whatever it is they're hoping to snack on. Seeds in, seeds out, dontcha know. They can't be left over from last year, because it's been 2 years since I had portulaca in the flower boxes.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sorry, ladies, he's taken!

Background: The Chief has put in his paperwork to retire at the end of the year and has spent many a happy hour contemplating what to do with all that spare time he's gonna have come January.

This morning, when I asked him the usual "anything else we need at the store?" he told me out of the blue that once he's retired, he can do some of the laundry & grocery shopping. (He already does plenty around the house; he's no slug.) He did stipulate that he'd continue to leave the baking to me, but if he's willing to fold all the laundry, I'm looking forward to his retirement! :-D

Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Don't call us, we'll call you"?

Still waiting to hear back about last week's audition. I just checked the company's website, which says that "you will be contacted if you have been selected for call-backs from the July auditions". It also says that call-backs will be in September, along with additional auditions. (I'm interpreting that to mean they'll audition more men; theater companies always need more men.) First time I've ever heard of callbacks being 6 weeks or more after the original auditions; wonder what that's all about? There are some other shows I'm interested in that audition in August; I'm not going to skip those auditions while I hang fire waiting to hear about Music Man and Iolanthe, and I doubt many other people will, either.

Since I haven't heard, I guess I'll assume that I didn't make callbacks. Not a huge shock, as the competition for mezzo roles is always fierce, and they tend to cast young (20s) for their choruses, at least for G&S. They'll probably want at least a few "women of a certain age" for Music Man, but since I haven't heard back, I'm guessing I won't be one of them. Which doesn't break my heart, as it means I'm available to do Merry Widow with another company instead.

So I'll go see both their productions, perhaps review Iolanthe for Savoynet, enjoy the music, and try not to annoy my neighbors by singing along. ;-)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Another audition

Threw together an audition this afternoon for shows that don't actually run until February and March of next year! Not sure why the company's auditioning so very early, but I dusted off "I Hate Men" and trotted off to sing it for the audition panel. The panel consisted of the directors & MDs for both shows (Music Man and Iolanthe) and the Music Man choreographer.

I had only planned to audition for Iolanthe, as Music Man runs opposite another company's Merry Widow, which I'd love to do again! (I love the music in that show - Lehar's a genius!) However, the Music Man MD teased me about that - "what, you don't care about Music Man?", as did the director, so I told 'em that, well, I would love to play Eulalie McKechnie Shinn (the mayor's wife).

The accompanist was good - followed very nicely, didn't have a lick of trouble with the music, both of which I've learned not to take for granted. I thought I sang pretty well, considering I'd settled on my audition piece maybe 2 hours before I got there and that the air quality the past several days has had my lungs full of crud. The room had cinderblock walls, which seemed to make it pretty "live" acoustically - great fun to sing in. On the whole, I'm actually satisfied with how I sang.

The dance audition was another matter. This was a comeuppance for me, as I generally fret about the singing but take it for granted that I'll be able to hold my own in any dance audition not designed for trained dancers. I can usually get most of a combination, but not this time. Maybe because it started on the left foot, but when it came right down to it, I forgot the first step or two, which put me behind, and I completely messed up the final bar of the combination. Worse, the choreographer only ran it once after she had us do it on our own, so I didn't get a chance to redeem myself. I walked outta there rather taken aback that I'd actually screwed up a dance audition. That's never happened to me before, and I've had some pretty fancy footwork thrown at me in dance auditions.

I requested the Fairy Queen in Iolanthe but don't expect to get it, simply because of the caliber of the mezzos who tend to audition for this company. I also don't expect to be offered chorus, since they've tended to cast 20-something women and it's gotta be a pretty big house for me to read that young. I don't expect to be offered Eulalie, either, for the same reason. If they offer me chorus, I won't take it because if it comes down to chorus in Music Man or Merry Widow, it's no contest - Lehar wins, hands down. And because Iolanthe opens only a couple of weeks after Music Man closes, people can't do both shows, so the directors may find themselves doing a bit of horsetrading in their casting meeting.

The Chief and I were discussing this over dinner tonight (when we weren't lamenting the food and the service). The Chief repeated what he's said before, that I should audition for plays as well as musicals. I reminded him that I've already done one play and a non-singing, non-dancing role in a musical, and showed him my spreadsheet of shows I'm considering auditioning for - plays outnumber musicals 2 to 1.

No stars for you!

Chief & I went to a new restaurant in the area in a space previously occupied by a very nice, family-run Mexican place. (We miss you, Los Cabos!) Lordy mama, but these folks have no earthly clue! The Chief ordered a bottle of Budweiser; the waiter came out, empty-handed, a few minutes later to report that it wasn't available on draft. Uh, yeah, that's why he ordered a bottle. When the waiter finally brought out our drinks, including the water that we shoulda gotten right away, he bobbled the tray and spilled almost half a glass of wine all over the table and a little on us, so we got up & moved to another booth. The waiter did offer to buy us dessert in compensation, but we never saw the manager.

Eventually the food came out. The Chief had ordered a burger, well done; it came out medium rare, and the fries were a bit rubbery from sitting under the heat lamp too long. The filling in my spinach calzone was very good, but the dough was overdone, and half the calzone's "footprint" on the plate was the crust, which was too tough to cut. Our waiter never did come by to see how the food was; the Chief would have liked to send his burger back to be cooked further.

And yes, the waiter had offered to buy us dessert, but when I ordered, he trotted off to the kitchen without asking the Chief what he wanted. We had been under the impression that he was offering two desserts; maybe not?

Bottom line: food not that great, waiter in need of remedial training, and the manager shoulda checked to see that we hadn't gotten soaked. No stars for this place!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


This is one of those weeks. Two of our editors are on vacation this week and a 3rd is up to his eyeballs in a huge, hairy project, leaving 2 of us to handle what the 2 writers and 2 newbies are doing. Which isn't as good as it sounds, because the other editor is also our supervisor, who just got promoted up the chain. While her new job doesn't become official for another few weeks, she's already started getting cc'ed on all the e-mail and pulled into meetings. As a result, I've been staying late trying to keep the backlog from getting too big; I've already put in 30 hours and it's only Wednesday! I even had to cancel my voice lesson yesterday because I wasn't going to be able to get out of work in time to get there. I'm gonna be so glad to see Friday evening!

And I'm still waiting to hear about that 2nd job. I was really hoping to hear by today, but no such luck. Maybe tomorrow...

Maybe it's just because I'm tired and preoccupied with work, but I've been getting nervous about this student recital. It's only 3 weeks away and I can't seem to make any headway memorizing the Italian piece. Yeah, yeah, I know, practicing would help matters, but I just can't seem to get that text to stick in my brain. This is weird; I had a little bit of Latin ('way back in high school, but still) and a lot of French so Italian shouldn't be that hard. Heck, I managed to memorize Hungarian songs and there are almost no cognates in Hungarian with any of the languages I've ever studied. Is it all the Code Orange days? preoccupation with work? my brain trying to take the summer off?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Still waiting

Still waiting to hear about interview #2; given one thing and another, it's gonna be "mid-week" before they tell me anything one way or the other. Sigh; I wouldn't mind so much, but I got the official offer on the 1st job this afternoon and I don't want to leave them hanging too long.

Today seemed to last forever; I was sleepy when I got to work (low pressure systems do that to me) and ended up working an extra couple of hours. I'm not sure why my head hasn't dinged the computer keyboard yet tonight...

Having second thoughts about doing that recital, but maybe that's just because I'm so tired that learning new music sounds too much like work right now. I'll talk to my teacher at tomorrow's lesson and see what she thinks.

Things for which the wait has ended:
- Grand Duke: I didn't get the Baroness but I did get one of the named chorus girls, so I'll have a few token solo lines, a spoken line or few, and a quartet at the end of one of the finales.
- Board: I was running unopposed for general secretary of company V, so no surprise that I got it. In fact, nearly all the candidates were running unopposed, though I wonder who our members-at-large are.
- Christmas travel is a go! Southwest requires 48K AmEx points for two round-trip tix, not one, and my folks just gifted us a boatload of points, so we now have enough to book both tickets on points, freeing up all kinds of cash for the rental car (my folks only have 1 vehicle) and a hotel room (sparing us last year's shuffle from parents' to sister's and back again). Hurray!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pinch 'n' smidgen cooking

We had 2 1/2 huge zucchini a neighbor had given us last week (they'd been to a produce auction over the July 4th weekend), as well as several large yellow squash and maybe half a dozen cucumbers. Today I picked up a coupla onions and a few tomatoes, cut 'em up with some zucchini & yellow squash, added some garlic & basil and sauteed the lot in olive oil. Yum!

Good thing it turned out well, as I still have 1 2/3 zucchini, 3 or 4 yellow squash, 2 tomatoes and an onion. Maybe those will be Monday night's side dish. (I'm taking the cucumbers in to work to see if anyone wants them.)

Maybe not such a grim outlook after all?

We've been trying to figure out how to spend Christmas with my family without breaking the bank. The Chief had called Southwest a few weeks ago and found that a round-trip ticket would cost $550! However, when I checked the other night, I found a fare for "only" $445, and yesterday he found one for $32_ (per ticket). So maybe fares are coming down, as more and more people look at them, pick themselves up off the floor, and decide that no, they don't really need to fly after all. Better, when he called, he was told we'd need 48,000 points per ticket, up from the previous 24,000 points. However, when I called Southwest tonight, I was told that no, it's still 24K per ticket. So maybe we can do both tickets on points, which makes the trip affordable after all!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Busy week

Had interviews Monday & yesterday for the 2 similar jobs I'd applied for. Monday's interview concluded with their telling me straight out that the job is mine if I want it. Yesterday's interviewers were cagier - said there'd been "some interest" in the job. I found out later that I was the only one who'd applied for either one, yet the 2nd folks told me they wouldn't be making a decision until today or Monday. I haven't heard from them yet, so I guess it'll be Monday.

Auditioned Wednesday for The Grand Duke. It'll be a semi-staged, concert version with orchestra, and only 2 performances, but if I get something other than chorus, that'll be a first for me with this company. It would be the first time I get to sing solo with an orchestra & conductor out where I can see 'em - with both Pitti-Sing and Ruth, our musicians were stashed behind the set. Part of me hopes no one else auditions for the Baroness, but part of me wants the satisfaction of knowing that there was competition for the role and I beat 'em out. Call-backs were tonight (the Chief & I already had plans); the company's annual meeting/picnic is tomorrow, so I'm hoping I'll find out then how I did.

Duke will be one of the offerings to be sung at the "Great Gilbert & Sullivan Sing-Out" over Labor Day weekend. At the casting meeting, I managed to snag Ruth and Lady Angela for myself; now I need to schedule a session with my last voice teacher so I can get Angie's music on tape to learn. The only problem I anticipate is learning her line for "I hear the soft note" in the Act I finale, since I already know the chorus alto line. Good thing you aren't expected to be off book for sing-outs - I can highlight Angie's line in the score so I sing her line there, not the altos'.

Work wasn't as productive as I could have wished this week. I spent a fair bit of time researching the 2 job prospects, got only preliminary research and a very rough draft of a summary report I want to do, spent more time than usual on administrivia (or "la triviata", to steal my voice teacher's husband's term), and tried to stay awake, since our temporary offices are quite warm.

Chief is off to the cabin again this weekend to continue work on the deck out there. I'd've gone too, but I've got that annual meet/nic tomorrow. I want to turn in my ballot and stick around for the announcement of the new board members. I'm running unopposed for secretary; in fact, the only office for which there's any competition are the member-at-large positions - 6 people are running for 4 at-large slots. I figure my first act as secretary will be to announce the new board to the company's listserve and ask the web master to post the names on the home page.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A weekend in the country

We spent a lovely long weekend at the cabin. The Chief got a primer coat and a first paint coat on the front deck before the rains came Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, because the paint hadn't all dried by then, some of it didn't last. The rains took care of some of it, and a local critter (the Chief suspects a raccoon) left its mark on the bottom step.

Thursday I went to the neighborhood nursery and came home with four 5-gal. buckets of compost, a huge bag of pachysandra, four 1-gallon pots of dicentra (he had been having so much trouble selling them, he had given up and was giving them away!), a ladyfern and a royal fern. And the price tag for this carload of stuff? All of $18! Friday I fired up the tiller and got to work. That machine is a real workhorse and also put me thru my paces. The thing bounces like crazy when it hits rocks, and I hit plenty that morning, so I got quite a workout controlling the tiller. The routine was pretty straightforward; till the living daylights out of a patch to be planted, throwing aside the largest of the rocks (i.e., fist-size or larger); scatter compost, setting the earthworms into a "refuge" (empty coffee can); till the compost into the remaining clay; plant some pachysandra; introduce the worms to their new home; scatter grass seed over the patch. Move to new bare spot and repeat the whole process. Because it's electric, I needed to get all that pachy planted before the rain started, which I managed. In fact, the rain very obligingly waited until I had everything put away, not just the tiller and its 100' extension cord.

I'm so glad I bought that tiller last year. Given that at least our section of the Mountain State is essentially shale with a very thin, sparse dusting of clay, it would be impossible for me to plant a thing without my lovely little tiller. And boy, does it hold up. It automatically stops when it gets weeds wrapped around the tine disks or picks up a rock. Usually I just had to stop & restart it, but once I found it had two fist-sized rocks wedged between the tine disks in different places. It didn't break, it didn't bend, it didn't burn out the motor, it just stopped until I cleared the rocks and reset it. To plagiarize the old Timex slogan, it takes a licking and keeps on ticking!

Thursday we also ran out to get a few things we'd forgotten to take with us, and came home by way of one of the local farmer's markets. The first of the peaches were in; still a bit green, but I bought some anyway. By Friday I couldn't stand it any longer; those peaches smelled so good I had to bake 'em up! I didn't have a copy of my favorite peach pie recipe with me, but no matter; I guessed at the flour/sugar/spice mix that went in with the peaches, eyeballed the amount of peaches to cut up, and hoped for the best. Not as good as if I'd had the recipe, but the Chief seemed to think it tasted just fine.

We saw quite a few deer this weekend, including a doe/fawn pair, and I spotted a hummingbird and a big black butterfly checking out the rhododendrons.

The homeowners association arranged for gypsy moth spraying this spring (we had a disgusting plague of the little monsters last year), so between that and the rain, the foliage is nice and thick and lush this year. That means more flowers on the rhodies, too, and the pachysandra and euonymus I planted last year, which barely survived the drought, are looking quite healthy & happy this year and the grass the Chief planted last fall is flourishing. Whether it's the greenery or how cool the rain kept things this weekend, the birds seemed more active and vocal. It's so much nicer waking up to birds than to an alarm clock!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Things to be happy about

Good voice lesson today. Wore me out, and I almost wore out my voice before the end of the lesson, but I was working hard in a way that was producing results. Still internalizing the new techniques, of course - it'll be quite a while before I get a handle on everything, physiologically, vocally, mentally. But my voice feels bigger, and when I'm closing in on the new techniques, I can feel the tone "spin" - very cool! This recital Aug. 3rd might be a tiny triumph (tiny because I'm only prepping 2 pieces).

Auditions a week from tomorrow for Grand Duke. It's only a concert version, but an audience is an audience, and while I've been called back for things the last few times I've auditioned for this group, I have yet to be offered a role. With the way my lessons are going, that just may change! Poor Chief - gonna hafta put up w/ a lotta screeching & caterwauling as I put my voice thru its paces and try to incorporate the new work into my audition piece.

GD will be part of the Labor Day weekend G&S marathon I'll be gorging on. After a 6-plus-hour casting meeting Sunday, I ended up with Lady Angela (Patience) and RUTH! That role & Mad Margaret (Ruddigore) were the 2 most requested - 8 mezzos wanted 'em! That's an advantage to being on the committee - I was there to plead my own cause. "I just did Ruth, so I'd've let someone else have it, but since he's doing Frederic, Ruth's my first choice." Yes, it's only a concert read-through, and an informal one at that, but the beauty of these things is that you get a chance to sing roles you'd never get because of age or what-have-you. There's a chance I'll get to play Ruth again, but probably not with this particular tenor, who's a real sweetie and very funny.

I applied for two cool new positions at work a few weeks ago. Today I finally heard about the first one - as I was hoping, I was the only applicant. Better, the woman who called said that, having read my resume, she thought they were getting "a great deal". :D It's still very early in the process - haven't even scheduled the obligatory interview yet - but I'm optimistic that this'll work out. Not only would I get to do a spiffy new thing, but I'd be able to take public transit, and since I wouldn't even have to change subway lines, I should be able to do some quality napping as part of my daily commute. Woo-hoo!

And tomorrow after work we're off to the cabin for a long weekend - first time I've been out there since the beginning of May. Along with the usual groceries & things that'll go into the care, we'll also take my tiller and lots and lots of extension cord. I plan to head to the local nursery, possibly as early as Thursday, to get more pachysandra to put in over the septic field now that we know that it'll "take" and that the deer positively dislike eating the stuff.

Strawberry pie

The Chief and my cousin ate the strawberry pie with no complaints, but I was a little disappointed. Not because it didn't turn out well (though I'm learning that when using tapioca as a thickener, I need to refrigerate the pie before cutting into it) but because cooked strawberries remind me too much of strawberry preserves. Yummy, but I've decided I'd rather have my strawberries uncooked. Other berries, however, might be quite wonderful - I may end up experimenting as things come into season, though right now we're eagerly awaiting the first peaches of the summer. (I have a wonderful spiced peach pie recipe from a good friend's mother.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Another pie

My cousin (oh, alright, Mom's cousin) is due to pull up out front at any minute. In honor of the occasion, I bought WAY too many strawberries (4 pounds!) and made a strawberry pie, which smells wonderful.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Beasts of burden

Saturday I pulled out our biggest wheeled suitcase, the one big enough to fold a full-size adult into, and crammed it full of all the Pirates costumes that can't go into the wash. It was a pain hauling that thing to the car, then across the cleaner's gravel parking lot, but it was almost worth it just to watch the woman's eyes widen when I stepped up to her register with that enormous suitcase.

This evening the Chief went with me to pick everything up from the cleaner's. No way I could've done it myself in one trip, with 6 police coats, 4 skirts, the MG's uniform jacket and robe, my Act I costume and one of the fanciest pirate sashes. As it was, each of us walked out of there with a very full armload of dry cleaning, which went a long way toward filling my trunk.

But all these costumes are almost outta here. The laundered things are in bags or on hangers, the bobby helmets, nightsticks and miscellaneous other small items are boxed up & ready to go, so now that I've collected the dry cleaning, it's off to the costume closets tomorrow to return everything. (Lordy, I hope we don't find some stray costume piece a week from now!)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Can she bake a cherry pie...?

Signs of summer: crape myrtles start flowering, fireflies appear at dusk, and I start making fruit pies. Saturday I made the first pie of the summer. I got ambitious and decided to make a cherry pie, not because I've ever been a particular fan of cherry pies (I hate the glop in the canned filling!) but because the Chief likes them, so it was a convenient excuse. That, and the Pirates cast party that night. So I bought 3 or 4 lbs of cherries, spent about 45 mins. pitting 5 or 6 cups of them, and baked my first cherry pie.

I first searched thru a few of my cookbooks for recipes. I was surprised to learn that the Chief's big cookbook only had a recipe using canned cherries; not a word about using fresh. Ditto Betty Crocker. Only my 75th-anniversary-edition Joy of Cooking had a cherry pie recipe for fresh cherries. (Admittedly, if I'd looked through my "collection" cookbooks, I might have had better luck.)

The recipe recommended sour cherries, though it conceded that sweet (the kind I bought) would do. It suggested either cornstarch or tapioca as thickener; I went with the latter, and used the higher amount the recipe recommended. The results were rather runny, though the filling did set up after being in the fridge overnight. The taste was also a bit disappointing; not bad, but not as much cherry taste as I'd hoped. Still, not bad for a maiden effort.

Next time, though, if I decide to try this again, I'll wait for the sour cherry season, and search thru my fundraiser cookbooks for a recipe.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


We had some grapes that had gotten a bit past their prime which I was going to throw away. The Chief, however, decided he'd rather throw them into the back yard for the local fauna. I'd've bet the squirrels would have been all over them but in fact it was the birds that first started in on them. We had fun watching a robin peck away at a grape and try to pick the whole thing up in its beak. It finally settled for flying off with a small chunk of it. Another bird did manage to make off with a whole grape but it was moving much too fast for us to get more than the briefest glimpse of it before it disappeared into the trees. All we know is that it was roughly robin-sized and had some red on its head.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Where's the rainbow?

We had a short, intense rainstorm an hour or so ago, while the sun continued shining brightly. But could we see a rainbow? No! I want my rainbow!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Working hard

Had another lesson with my new teacher today. She's really woodshedding my technique, which sorely needs it. She works me even harder than my last teacher, and those lessons would often leave me physically and mentally tired. So far, the great chunk of my lessons has involved a lot of exhortations to put more energy into my sound; now, more; more! And I'd forgotten how mentally wearing it can be to try to understand how a new technique is supposed to work, what I need to do to make it happen, and then remember to do it, and make it a habit.

Then she threw a small wrench into the works today - would I be willing and available to participate in a student recital she wants to put together in about 6 weeks? I'm gonna do it, if only to have a goal to push me to work on the 2 pieces she's given me. I've never done any recital-ing before; this should be a good experience for me (I hope).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Not sewing a costume, for a change!

Tonight I've been trying to cut out a dress. Just a dress, not a costume. Nothing fancy, just something to wear to work, church, or out to dinner. Found some wonderful fabric a few weeks ago and am finally getting some time to start working on it. I love the print, which isn't as twee as it looks in the photo, and the fabric is just about perfect. Despite being 100% cotton, when I ran it through the wash to prep it for cutting, it came out of the dryer barely wrinkled - this dress is gonna be one that won't need ironing as long as I hang it up as soon as the dryer stops. Even better, it's ever so soft and is light enough for summer but with just enough substance that it has a lovely drape; the pattern has a rather full skirt, and that skirt is going to move very nicely once I get this made up.

I say I've been trying to cut this out because the pattern envelope tells me to cut one size, based on my measurements, but the finished garment sizes on the pattern piece tell me to cut 2 or 3 sizes smaller. It's been years and years since I've used a pattern to sew for myself; I don't remember running into this before. I've e-mailed my dilemma to the company but will probably have to wait until tomorrow for a response. I do hope I get one then, as I've been itching to sew up this fabric since I bought it. I'd love to have the dress finished by the weekend.

No more Ruth

Pirates closed last night. After spending the past few months having so much fun with these people, and Pirates being such a fun show, this is another one I'm gonna miss. Good thing we've got the cast party coming up next Saturday, to ease the pain of "withdrawal". ;-)

One of the audience members last night came up to me after the show and told me she was "eating [her] heart out", as she'd played Ruth herself five times! We had a fun, if short, chat about how much fun Ruth is to do, G&S roles she'd played, which ones were the "best" to do, and so on.

We had our biggest audience last night - they even added a row of 6 or 7 seats to accommodate the demand. Last night's crowd included 2 Birdie alumnae, who were vocal in their appreciation, and my recent voice teacher and one of her daughters. It was flattering to have so many people to talk to afterwards, but also a little frustrating, as it meant I didn't get to talk to any of them for more than a few minutes, when what I wanted to do was sit down and talk with them for a few hours. My Birdie friends did get pictures of the 3 of us together; I'm hoping they turned out.

Our Edith was being quite the shutterbug backstage last night. This was a good thing, because I had forgotten to put my camera in my theater bag, so I got only a few pics of people in the costumes I busted my butt to put together. "Edith" also got a few pictures of Mabel wearing the hat I made for her, so I have that for future reference. I hope someone got a picture of the MG's "uniform" with the medals - they looked very good indeed under the lights. "Edith" also took lots and lots of group shots; so many, she was talking about putting all her photos on CDs to give people at the cast party next week.

Strike was amazingly quick - less than an hour! This was due in no small part to the fact of our relatively minimalist set. Our director & her husband did a very nice job designing a set that suggested the scene without requiring a lot of construction, and the production used very few props. I was surprised to see that the next show in the space was already painting over our set while we were still taking things down and putting them away. They couldn't have waited until the next day?

Costume strike also went very quickly. Being able to put most of the Act I costumes (all but a few pirate costumes) into the collection bags & boxes at intermission helped a lot. To my relief, all the bags & boxes fit into my car, too. Now to haul it all inside, inventory it, clean the washables, haul the dry-clean-only stuff to the discount cleaners...

Friday, June 13, 2008

What does "musical" mean?

First of all, thanks, Mom! While I didn't inherit your perfect pitch, I do seem to have relative pitch (which for my purposes is probably better) and your musicality.

But what does it mean to be "musical"? I've had various voice teachers over the years tell me that I'm musical - good feel for the music, sense of phrasing, that sorta thing. Which doesn't automatically mean I can sing well. I once saw a quote to the effect that having a Stradivarian instrument doesn't mean you can play the thing - you still have to learn the mechanics of it. I guess musicality means that, when you do learn the mechanics, they don't sound mechanical.

At this point in my vocal education, I still have a lot of mechanics to learn but have just about completed all the remedial work I had to do. Now I'm finally able to start working on how to combine technique and musicality to produce a performance, not merely a mechanical exercise. Not "See, I'm singing these notes", but "Ruth is happy to be a pirate" or what-have-you.

And why are humans, at least some of us, musical at all? What evolutionary or survival purpose does it serve, if any, or is it merely a byproduct of something else? There are all kinds of studies demonstrating that abilities in music, math and language tend to track together - if you're good at one, odds are that you're good at one or both of the other two. Since that has to do with brain function, maybe music is a byproduct of language? A predecessor or enabler of language? Discuss.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Too much!

Oy, what a week, and it's only Tuesday! Yesterday was a Code Red day; air quality so bad that asthmatics such as myself really shouldn't venture outdoors without a gas mask. Perhaps because it was a Code day, I woke up w/ another incipient migraine. Managed to keep it at bay with caffeine, resorting to imitrex only mid-afternoon.

Got to work yesterday to find that my computer wouldn't boot up, so I had to use someone else's (which of course didn't have all my apps loaded on it) until IT finally got around to sending someone to fix my computer.

They're moving our office to temporary spaces on Thursday so they can rehab our current space, in a building that probably hasn't been touched since it was built in, oh, maybe the Nixon administration. We're also supposed to get new furniture, to replace the WWII-vintage desks. OK, most of them are newer than that, but I doubt any of them are much newer than the building, which means they're all designed for typewriters, not computers and keyboards. At any rate, we're all going through our desks and throwing out old stuff, filling boxes with the stuff worth keeping, all while trying to continue to do at least some of what the taxpayers are paying us for. Yesterday was thus not a terribly productive day for me, what with the non-working computer, the computer that didn't have my software load, having to fill boxes, then trip over boxes because we don't really have anywhere to put them while we wait for the movers.

I was also stressing over this pain-in-the-butt annual accounting thing we have to do. The online form is very poorly laid out, the system is not particularly intuitive, the instructions aren't much help, and the system kept flaking out yesterday. Grrrrrrrrrr!

Today was both better than yesterday - my computer worked, if slowly, and I had done all but my last-minute packing yesterday - and worse - I kept getting interrupted ("do we need to keep this?" "help us go through this file drawer and see what needs to be archived"), so that I actually finished nothing at all.

On the plus side, today was "only" a Code Orange day, and I had my first voice lesson in over a month. Despite the "Code crud", my teacher was encouraging and told me I was "singing well", I assume referring to technique rather than sound.

Oh, and friends are coming into town Friday night for the show and spending the night with us, so TW and I are trying to clean and declutter. Didn't get much done tonight, but we continue to chip away at it. I'm off work Thursday & Friday, so that'll be when the bathrooms get scoured, the guest bed sheets get washed, and so on.

Mom's cousin called us out of the blue the other night to say he'd be coming thru town at the end of the month and was our offer of a place to stay still good? Yes, of course! Fortunately, the place will already have been company-cleaned once, so it won't take much to spruce it up for him. We'll mostly just continue to declutter and hope for the best.

And just in case I didn't have enough on my plate already, someone pointed out some new jobs that have recently opened up. The person who's sort of shepherding these new jobs thru the HR process gave me the impression that they're having trouble getting folks to apply, which kinda surprised me. After all, how often do you get a chance to try something completely new (i.e., you get to be the one to set the bar), with only a 2-year commitment, with a guarantee of a slight raise and a $100/month commuter benefit if you opt for public transportation? I mean really, what's not to love? Problem is, the closing date for most of them is next Friday, and the report dates are as little as 3 weeks away! Given our office move and everything else, there is absolutely no way I could get a proper application done in time. I may have to make a few calls and see just how firm that deadline is. This is definitely something I need to look into. They sound like really good opportunities working interesting projects, I'm not inclined to dismiss even a small raise, and I'd much rather take the subway (sleep or read en route!) than drive. The biggest - OK, only - problem I have is that I like my current job and and the folks I'm working with. However, this wouldn't be the first time I've left a job and coworkers I liked to try some new, different cool job. Decisions, decisions...