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.)