Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Just when you start to get really cynical about people...

Was out & about yesterday making some food deliveries to seniors and while I was reminded about the challenges the city faces in clearing away so very much snow (my little Civic handled it like a champ!), I also saw:
- a gentleman in a city-issued dayglo-yellow vest very carefully helping a woman who was struggling through the plow drifts with a cane and 2 laden shopping bags. She was floundering with every step, yet he didn't seem to be rushing her at all.
- a bus driver who tried to signal traffic to stop so a walker-using passenger could get safely across the street after getting off the bus.
- the lady who had a Christmas card for me when I brought her delivery by.

And I got to be a little bit of a hero because I was able to "fix" one woman's electric can opener. I've never owned an electric one myself - a regular one is cheaper and takes up much less space - but I finally managed to get it to work after wiping every surface I could manage with a paper towel. I was a little surprised by the fuss the organization folks made over my success, but of course a working can opener was a big deal for this woman. After all, what good is canned food if you can't get the cans open?

Sunday, December 20, 2009


It started snowing Friday night and didn't stop until late Saturday night. This morning I measured 18" in the front yard, and that wasn't even a drift! Things I'm grateful for, given the way we got clobbered by this storm:
- that the Chief had made a grocery run early in the week;
- that he managed to get out of the area before things got too bad;
- that we didn't lose power (and heat!);
- neighbors who helped me dig my car out (the snowplow ridge came to within 6" of the door handles); and
- the friend who called to see if I needed anything, knowing the Chief was out of town and assuming my asthma was a concern since I didn't make it to church; and
- a day off work tomorrow so my "shoveling muscles" can recover a little.
Would be nicer if I were snowed in with someone, but the phone works just fine, everybody and their brothers seem to be spending a lot of time on Facebook updating their status and such, which gets pretty entertaining, and I've got 4 new movies that just arrived a week or so ago.

I spent too much time doing what I always do when "the weather outside is frightful" - I cooked! Lemme tell you, simmer oxtails on the stove for 7 hours and you barely have to look at 'em to get the meat off those bones! The recipe calls for frozen mixed vegetables, of which we had none, so I added frozen peas, green beans, and sliced up some carrots instead. I took some of that soup over to the neighbor who made chicken noodle soup for the Chief when he was so sick with the flu.

I also pulled some pumpkin out of the freezer and made 2 loaves of pumpkin bread, one of which I took, still warm, to the shovel-wielding neighbors. Still some thawed pumpkin left, so I went online and found a recipe for pumpkin pancakes. Three guesses what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow, now that I get to sleep in and can have a nice, leisurely breakfast.

I also cooked some turkey for dinner last night, and have pre-snow leftovers. Add that to the cooking-frenzy output and I now have way too much food for one person to eat before it starts to spoil. I'm hoping to get a friend or few to come by for a meal, will take the rest of the pumpkin bread to work on Tuesday, already gave half the grapes to the shoveling neighbors, froze half the soup I didn't give away, but I'll have to do more if I don't want all this food to go to waste.

If you suffer from holiday stress...

Saw this strip cited in someone else's blog: if you hate the holidays, or even if you just find them stressful, check it out.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Surfacing briefly

Taking one night off in the middle of over 2 weeks of rehearsals & shows. Mother Goose opened Thursday. Not a perfect show, but none of the glitches was serious and the audience didn't seem to care. It's been an education (and fun!) doing panto, in which the audience is almost another character among the dramatis personae. They boo & hiss the bad guys, cheer the good guys, warn them not to listen to the evil queen or that there's a ghost behind them - kinda weird to be booed, not applauded, when you finish a number, but when you've just finished being all creepy and spooky, that's a good thing, at least in panto.

Got to my first blocking rehearsal for Grand Duke and was reminded why I enjoy working with this director. She got a lot of movement and business roughed in very quickly, ran it a few times. This is gonna be fun.

Thinking about what to audition for next. One local company is doing Mikado; I'd only do that show again if a miracle happens and they offer me Katisha (I anticipate some stiff competition). I wouldn't expect them to consider me for Pitti-Sing - they'd have no trouble finding young mezzos. Moon Over Buffalo also sounds like fun; three roles I'd go for, though I have no idea how stiff the competition would be.

TW came down w/ the flu Wednesday. Because we've both had our seasonal flu shots, we're assuming this was swine flu. He wasn't too miserable at first, but by the time I got home Friday (after getting a swine flu shot & a Tamiflu Rx), his fever was up to 103.6! This was at 5 p.m.; I ended up missing the first half of Act I because I wasn't about to leave until TW's doctor's office called back. Fortunately, he didn't need to be seen, so I changed the sheets, made him put on clean pj's and set him up with plenty of fluids and such before I left. By yesterday, thank God, his temp was down to 99.x, and when I got home from work today, it was finally, blessedly normal! Tonight he even ate a full meal, after having little or no appetite even yesterday.

A friend is having a reading of her one-act tonight but I opted to stay home. Nice to have a night at home for a change, instead of racing home, inhaling dinner, and flying off to the theater an hour later, or even having a more leisurely dinner before heading to rehearsal. And given that I have choir practice tomorrow and then Mother Goose performances thru Sunday and another Duke rehearsal Monday, if I didn't stay home tonight, that would be 17 days without a break! I really need one night when I get to bed before 11 p.m.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Goin' decaf

I've now been caffeine-free since Tuesday. After being awakened around 4 a.m. 5 days running with nasty headaches, my doc referred me to a neurologist, who told me that pattern was classic for "rebound headaches", when the body finishes metabolizing caffeine. Four in the morning?!? When I hadn't had much caffeine, and none of it after 10 am? Apparently so. This is particularly weird because mine isn't a big caffeine habit - I fill the cup halfway with milk, then top up w/ coffee, so I'm getting no more than the equivalent 12 oz. a day of straight coffee; less caffeine than in a 12-oz can of Mountain Dew.

Since Tuesday morning I've had no caffeine that I know of - only herb teas or decaf coffee, haven't had any chocolate. The "withdrawal" headaches have only been an occasional nuisance, not the constant I'd feared from seeing others go cold turkey from caffeine, though yesterday's did segue into a migraine.

The doc recommended a couple of books, one of which outlines a "migraine diet", which I'll definitely try. He also said yoga has been shown to help, and there's a yoga studio near our house; guess I'll check out their class schedule. It's much too soon to tell how all this will affect my migraines, but I've got my fingers crossed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why is this so complicated?

I've wasted a bit of time this weekend trying to find someone who'll cut my hair for my Locks of Love donation. The first two times I donated, I just went in, got my hair cut, and done. This time? Not so easy, for some unknown reason or reasons.

Attempt #1: Called the salon around the corner, which I haven't patronized in lots & lots of years. I thought I had made a 4pm appointment w/ Matilda, but when I got there, I was told Matilda had already gone home for the day. I took in the spanish-language program on the tv, looked around & realized I was probably the only person there not a native speaker of Spanish, saw how many people were waiting (for their turn? for the person they'd brought there?) and realized that perhaps the person who took my name didn't understand "appointment", only the time I was asking about.

Attempt #2: Called the salon I used last time, where the woman had done a particularly good job (20 miles away, which is why I didn't call them first). I was told that donation cuts are done on a walk-in basis only; probably because they do it for free, so paying customers get first dibs. Fair enough. So I drove over there after church this morning only to find a different salon there! I tried to reach TW to have him check the address (which of course I'd left at home, along w/ the phone number), but no luck, so I went into the salon anyway. The gentleman working alone had obviously never heard of Locks of Love and couldn't take me anyway, so I drove back home, having wasted nearly 2 hours in the process. Once he realized what I was trying to accomplish, he did say that what I was trying to do was nice. I wish now that I'd had the presence of mind to give him the donation instructions I'd printed out.

Plan C: Call the place again, find out exactly where they are, landmarks and all, and try again next weekend.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Still alive

I've just been grossly overscheduled - Mother Goose rehearsals Monday thru Thursday, then my February show had its first read-through last Friday and a chorus rehearsal Sunday. Tonight I have the night off, then Grand Duke rehearsals tomorrow & Sunday, Mother Goose Monday and so on. Load-in is the day after Thanksgiving, set build that Saturday, then it's Tech Week. My poor husband really will be a theater widower for a while there, as Mother Goose has a pretty heavy performance schedule - Thursday thru Sunday for 2 weekends, with 2 performances on Saturdays. And since I put in for my end-of-year time off before I even auditioned for Mother Goose, I can't really take any time off to recover.

As if my Tech Week schedule weren't full enough, I have a class at work that Wednesday and am called for jury duty on Thursday.

So if you don't hear from me for a while, I'm probably at work, in a theater, asleep or perhaps in a padded cell...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Enough comfort food for several people

Spent a good chunk of yesterday in the kitchen - made a big pot of veggie-beef soup, this time w/ some oxtails. The oxtails were disappointing: 1) They were supposed to thicken the stock but that didn't happen; 2) I had to trim a LOT of fat off the pieces; and 3) the meat was very tough and difficult to get off the bone. The soup's still good, mind you; it's only that the oxtails were not a particularly successful experiment. The only problem is that TW bought 3 1/2 lbs of the stuff, which I had divided into 4 smaller portions; 3 of those are still waiting in the freezer. Maybe I need to look through our cookbooks for an oxtail soup recipe so I can use that stuff up.

The pea soup I made for TW turned out every bit as thick as he wanted. He was insistent that it be "thick!" so I made it w/ 8 cups of water instead of the 12 cups the package instructions called for. This stuff was so thick, it would make traditional oatmeal seem runny; I dubbed it "pea sludge". TW was delighted with the results, though I did have to add back quite a bit of water when I heated it up for dinner tonight.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let's say "Thanks!"

In honor of Veterans Day, go to http://www.letssaythanks.com/Home1024.html and pick a card design to send to some servicemember stationed overseas. You don't get to pick who gets it or even which theater it gets sent to, but someone somewhere will get mail out of the blue letting them know their service is appreciated.

"The Sack Lunches"

From my e-mail. I've seen this before, but it's particularly appropriate today. Thank God for all those down the years who've served, whether conscripts or volunteers; God bless them and their families and friends.

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.

Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me. 'Chicago to Great Lakes Base. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Iraq.'

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached Chicago, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time. As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to Chicago.' His friend agreed.

I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty-dollar bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in Iraq; it's almost like you're doing it for him.'

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best, beef or chicken?' 'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class. 'This is your thanks.'

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me twenty-five dollars.

Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked. I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand, and said, 'I want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my seatbelt, I stood and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.

When we landed in Chicago I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars!

Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base. I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God Bless You.'

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little...

A veteran is someone who at one point in his life wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' That is Honor.

Happy Veterans Day

Monday, November 09, 2009

Gonna hafta make this quick

Yeah, I know, long time no see and all that. Maybe I'll get caught up, but in case I don't - TW and I took a nice, long vacation in Yorkshire, where we had surprisingly decent weather, saw a bunch of really cool old stuff and I gorged visually on the lush scenery. We got home Thursday, then hared off to the cabin Friday afternoon to try to recover.

Panto rehearsals kicking into high gear - runs starting tomorrow night, load-in the day after Thanksgiving.

Got a comprimario role (i.e., named chorister) in Grand Duke, which starts Fri/Sat/Sun rehearsals this Friday. That means that, unless the chorus gets a bye somewhere, I'll have a rehearsal EVERY DAY between now and Thanksgiving! =:o So if you don't hear from me, it's because I'm at work, at rehearsal, or trying to get a little bit of sleep. Pity my poor theater widower - he won't be seeing much of me until the panto closes Dec. 13th.

Fall was particularly colorful this year, and the sugar maples were downright spectacular.

I'm sure there's more, but I need sleep.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Been a tough few weeks

My sister-in-law's mother had been living with her, my brother since they bought their house over 13 years ago. Docs didn't think she'd survive to see them married 6 months later, but she defied the odds and lived long enough to see my bro & SIL bring home and start to raise not just one but two kids, who doted on their Granny. Granny finally succumbed to her many serious health problems a couple of weeks ago. My poor SIL is having a really rough time of it, given that as a nurse, she was the primary caregiver and for the last year or two, had made it a full-time job. Worse, she buried a beloved aunt the day after her mother died. Pray for the family, please.

And after not having much time to follow FB or friends' blogs, I started getting caught up tonight and learned that a friend lost his girlfriend's mother, then the girlfriend herself, barely a week apart! They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but given this kind of double whammy, who wouldn't prefer to be a weakling! Please pray for G, too.

But life goes on. L&D became grandparents again yesterday morning - bouncing baby girl, 7 lb. 10 oz and "long" (the beaming grandpa didn't say how long, just that she's tall).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Comfort food

Yesterday the remainder of the Jonathan apples became applesauce (too long on the counter instead of in the fridge had them getting a bit mealy) - oh, how wonderful the kitchen smelled! It was a team effort - I cored the apples and threw 'em in the pot with some cinnamon, nutmeg & ground clove (no need to add sugar), and the Chief ran the results thru his food mill to sieve out the skins and most of the seeds and things I missed when I was prepping the apples. Yummy stuff!

Today our errands included a fill-a-few-holes grocery run so I could make chicken tetrazzini. Now we've got a big pot of the stuff in the fridge, all ready for tomorrow's dinner. We also picked up a big slab of salmon on a big, fat sale, so dinners this week will probably alternate between the salmon and the tetrazzini.

The tetrazzini takes a while to assemble, even if you don't count the time to cook the chicken or turkey for it, and the cream it calls for (I substituted half-and-half) isn't exactly heart-healthy, but after all the raw weather we've had lately, I really wanted some comfort food, and the Chief isn't big on soup.

Oh, and I bought my very first bottle of sherry for the tetrazzini. I had no idea there were so many options - very dry, medium-dry, cream... I haven't tasted the stuff yet, but I suppose I'll do that eventually, if only out of curiosity piqued by reading so many novels that mention the stuff.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New front-loader

Tuesday the Chief & I ended up ordering a new washer & dryer from Sears; front-loading washer, so we splashed out on the pedestals for them so we don't have to bend over quite so far when loading & unloading them. The new items came today; with the pedestals, they don't clear the ductwork by very much at all! (Our basement has a low ceiling, which means the ductwork is so low that a 5'6" person can't walk under them on tiptoes.) We were told that the doors for the washer & dryer would swing in opposite directions so you don't have to work around the doors to transfer laundry from the washer to the dryer. Well, yes, they do open in opposite directions, but because of where the water & gas hook-ups are in our basement, we'll now "get" to work around both doors. Ah well, it's not as though we're doing laundry for a big family; we usually do only a couple of loads a week.

The old dryer is still in place because today's deliverymen aren't certified or authorized or whatever to do the gas disconnect/reconnect. They did do a great job of getting the 27"-wide machines down the stairs and into the basement thru the 29 1/2" doorway with nary a scratch, however, so we're happy.

The new machines, like all the machines on the market these days, have electronics running the show, so they chirp and sing as they go about their business. Until we have a chance to put them thru their paces, though, we won't know whether we'll be able to hear all that upstairs, nor whether we'll find it annoying, soothing, cheery or just different.

The Chief just put a "test" load in the washer to see how it works. We may have to relearn how to do laundry, since everything we've read says a front-loader takes longer to run, but spins out so much more water than a top-loader that you don't need to run the dryer nearly as long. As long as it does the job, though, I'll be happy.

Monday, October 12, 2009


The Chief & I just got back from a lovely long weekend with friends in the Outer Banks of N. Carolina. I now understand why it's such a popular vacation spot - it's lovely, and not as heavily commercialized as so many of the popular beach towns along the Maryland/Delaware/New Jersey shoreline. We got to see lots of pelicans, herons & egrets in flight, as well as the usual shorebirds.

Our friends have a place down there which they rent out during the high and shoulder seasons and which is nice and airy. Not on the water, but you can see both the ocean and the sound from it. The Chief has always wanted a place near the water, and while the cabin had satisfied his wish for a vacation place, now he's talking about selling it to finance a beach place. As always, he picked up a few real estate magazines, and we'll probably contact our friends' agent. Friends of ours at church also have a place down at the Outer Banks, so we'll be asking them a few questions about their experience too.

Now the latest plan/pipe dream is to retire to somewhere between Williamsburg and the Norfolk area, with a beach place at the OBX. However, if we vacation someplace else appealing, all that could change again...

Go to Plan B?

I just learned that auditions & callbacks for the show I want to do next will be held while the Chief & I are on vacation. I've already e-mailed the director & MD about scheduling an audition, but I might end up having to sit this one out, or just doing chorus (since I've done shows with both of them before, they'd let me do that without auditioning). I know I could get into the ensemble, but I want to do more than that. It would be ever so much fun to get the character mezzo role, but now that I won't be able to audition alongside the other contenders for that role, well, let's just say I don't fancy my chances.

On the bright side, though, if I don't do this one, that frees me up for other shows running at about the same time.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Spending too much money on the house

We got new, casement windows installed in the blank wall in the kitchen last week, and replaced the narrow little sash window over the kitchen sink with a larger, casement window. The lovely thing about casements is that when you open them, you get the benefit of the full window opening, not just half of it, so they bring in all kinds of wonderful breezes. We also had the same contractor replace the siding on the back of the house (the addition the previous owners had put on). Looks much better now.

The painters started scraping old paint on Monday, started priming yesterday, and the first of the actual paint went on today. Even though they're still priming. I'm not sure what they're methodology is, but as long as they do a good job, we aren't going to worry about it too much.

As if we weren't spending enough money, the transmission in the washing machine died on Sunday. I went down to transfer the first load of wash into the dryer to find that it was still sodden - the spin cycle no longer spins. Monday a repairman came out and diagnosed the bad transmission. The machine's too old to make it worth the cost of the repairs, so last night found the Chief & me in Sears checking out washers. Such a romantic date! :p

Avoiding duties

... and catching up here. Another apple cake just came out of the oven about half an hour ago, so the house smells pretty darn good. The Chief made chicken soup with the carcass from the roast chicken from the other night, and he whipped up a batch of Moroccan carrots with a little coaching (and some cumin-hunting - the bottle had fallen off the spice rack).

Got another audition, for G&S's The Grand Duke, in a couple of weeks, trying to pick something to sing. One suggestion, the fan song from Mirette, is reminiscent of one of the 2 big songs of the role I'd like, but a) I only heard it for the very first time last night and 2) the song doesn't really grab me. Ah well, I have a few other possibilities and 1 or 2 more lessons between now and then.

Got some nice feedback at panto rehearsal the other night. We were going over all the chorus' music (I really like a couple of the original songs - well written both musically & lyrically), one of which starts with us rather than the accompaniment. The MD said we'd probably need it led by a chorister with a strong ear - looking & pointing directly at me. Some of the music has some tricky syncopations and intervals, really testing whether you're paying attention. I was sitting close to the piano, where I could hear the accompaniment readily. Apparently our accompanist could hear me, too, because as we were leaving, she said as she passed me that it was nice to work with "real musicians". I don't usually consider myself a "real musician" as my only music education has been what I've picked up in choirs and voice lessons, but I guess it's enough that I can hold my own in these rehearsals.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A new recipe and an old favorite

Made an apple cake this afternoon with some of the 1/2 peck of granny smiths the Chief brought home last week. Didn't make the house smell as good as usual only because it's a gorgeous day and we have all the doors & windows wide open.

I also tried Beth's Oatmeal Cookies. The batter was rather liquid, so after the first 2 cookie sheets when into the oven and I saw how much the cookies spread, I added probably 1/2 c. of flour to the remaining batter. I wasn't thrilled with the results but they aren't bad, and the Chief thinks they're just fine. However, I also have an Outrageous Oatmeal Cookie recipe I cut out of the paper this summer which it says was adapted from a Starbucks recipe. It calls for a variety of dried fruit - regular & golden raisins and dried cranberries. The Chief is a purist about his oatmeal raisin cookies, so if the first attempt turns out otherwise OK, I may be asked to omit the cranberries in future.

Part of the cake will go across the street to a neighbor whose birthday is coming up on Wednesday and who loves this recipe as much as the Chief does. The cookies will go to the beach with us next weekend, to share with the friends who will be letting us share their beach house for the weekend. I'll also make another apple cake for the weekend - I went ahead and cut up the necessary apples while I was prepping them for today's cake - especially as she's the one who gave me this version of the recipe, which has become my favorite of the 3 versions I've tried.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Friday was a first - I missed my stop because I was too engrossed in my book. All of a sudden I heard the conductor announcing an unfamiliar stop and looked up to see a name I didn't recognize, so I checked the map - yep, 2 stops past where I shoulda gotten off. And of course I realized this as we were leaving that station, so I had to ride to the next one to turn around and head back. Just as insurance, I gave up my seat a stop early so I had nothing better to do than people-watch and keep an eagle eye out for my stop.

The book? Aunt Dimity and the Duke, by Nancy Atherton.

The fantasy was nice while it lasted

Which was about 24 hours. Got the call this afternoon, offering me a place in the ensemble. The director was so apologetic, complimenting my singing and such, that I kinda felt sorry for him. Ah well, that's community theater demographics at work - as the director put it, there are only so many roles to go around. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that yesterday he would have given me a lead quite happily.

The gentleman who played Samuel when I was in Pirates last year has been cast as the evil king. He's got a nice, rumbly bass voice, so I'm sure he'll sound OH, so scary & evil! He got some practice playing a bear in a Fringe show this summer; a foretaste of thing to come.

The ASM was in Merry Widow with me earlier this year and told me yesterday that the company "took me in and were very welcoming", which is why he's done so many shows with them. That certainly matches up with my experience yesterday. I'm looking forward to working with this group, and to doing my first British panto - it promises to be a lot of fun.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another audition, at last

Had my first audition since, oh, April this afternoon, for a traditional British pantomime, or panto. The turnout seemed to be an exaggerated model of the community theater demographic; I thought I heard someone say they'd had only one man audition (auditions continue tomorrow)! However, I think I stand a good chance of getting something more than chorus. My song felt good, and the room's acoustics made my voice feel oh, so big - always a good feeling. The director had 2 of us read together and complimented both of us on our acting. He had us read a scene between the members of a comic duo, and had each of us read another role. I got to read the evil queen. I'd love to play a villain; I think that would be fun.

I expect to hear by tomorrow night, given that the tentative rehearsal schedule they gave us shows the first rehearsal scheduled for Monday night!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Great place for history geeks

The Chief & I just got back from a long weekend in Williamsburg. We got a B&B a block from the historical area, so we were able to spend a LOT of time wandering among the 18-century buildings, both original and reconstructed. We got tours of at least 6 different buildings. Each "interpreter" has his or her own style and emphasizes different aspects of a building's history, but there's enough about how the building was used and what the layout, decoration and furnishings say about the occupants to make me very happy.

I loved talking to the weaver who explained why fabric was rarely more than about 45" wide, and the woman who explained that in the 18th century the colonists were very definitely not self-sufficient. The sheep they took with them were great for eating, but their wool was too short to be very good for weaving. The Egyptian variety of cotton didn't grow in Virginia and the kind that did, had way too many seeds per boll, all of which had to be picked out by hand. (No cotton gin yet, after all.) I think even the Chief found it interesting.

We walked our feet to nubs every day, so we had no trouble falling asleep each night, but I think we managed to see nearly everything we wanted to. The weather was absolutely perfect - a little cool for September, no humidity worth mentioning, clouds but no rain on Saturday, and sunshine and lovely breezes on Sunday. It was all so lovely that the Chief is now talking seriously about looking into moving down there once I retire (whenever that may be). I don't know if I want to pick up stakes & move after nearly 30 years in the same area, but I'm willing to at least consider the possibility.

On the other hand, "move" and "pack" are 4-letter words...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Adventures in voice

My voice teacher told me at my lesson yesterday that she's given up on having a studio recital this year. It got to be entirely too difficult simply to find a date that everyone could make, including the all-important accompanist. Now her plan is to get past the turn of the year and try to lock in a date. Then, if people can't make it, "That's too bad; perhaps you'll be able to join us next year."

In related news, I had a good lesson yesterday. Last week's was pretty rocky - only to be expected after a month off. Yesterday was another story, however; I was remembering all the technical things I'm supposed to do, the voice was remembering that yes, it can hit those Fs and Gs and such, my teacher was very pleased with my phrasing and delivery and even told me that "that was beautiful!" The chest voice is still much too new to be anything approaching easy, but I'm starting to figure out where the "sweet spot" is between too far down in my chest and too far forward (which gets nasal).

Not having the recital looming large (latest date was gonna be Oct. 4th) changed how my lesson went. Not quite so much push to polish my technique on my 2 would-be recital pieces, and now we can spend next week's lesson picking audition material (I'm looking at one audition coming up a week from Saturday and another sometime in October).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A fern fanatic in the making?

I may have to watch myself, that I don't become a fern addict. Having seen that they're pretty forgiving plants, easy to grow, shade-loving and largely deer-resistant, I've been planting quite a lot of them this year. The nurseryman out at the cabin is broadening his selection; when Mom & I went by there yesterday, he had more varieties than he did just last week. I love the novelty of the Frizelliae - the fronds look like they're strung with innumerable tiny fans (although most of the sites I checked describe them more as "green pearls"). The E. Indian holly fern is a rich, dark green with yellow along the main rib, the autumn ferns are just starting to turn colors, and I got a tassel fern hoping it'll be a nice contrast to the others.

I've also bought lady ferns and royal ferns this year, and Branford ramblers and a few others last year, though some of those didn't come back. (The deer mostly leave ferns alone, but apparently they find the new, tightly curled fronds quite tasty.)

The Chief wants to build a few more raised beds out at the cabin. One actually will get more sun than shade, so he'll probably put in a summer ice plant or two. The other will run across the base of the deck; perfect place for more ferns & hellebores.

I'm considering dropping some daffodil bulbs into the new beds if we get out to the cabin again before it gets too cold. I put 2 cardinal flowers in the sloped bed along the long side of the foundation of the addition for a shot of red amid all that green, but the daffodils will bloom earlier in the season. As long as they can cohabit peacefully with the hellebores & ferns, those beds should look very nice indeed next year.

The ferns I bought yesterday got planted here at the house. The 2 Frizelliae went in behind the hellebores in the bed next to the a/c compressor, while the 2 autumns, 2 E. Indian hollies and the token tassel went into a bed between the driveway and the house that already has one fern (no idea what variety that one is; might be a Branford rambler).

That stretch is one of the beds the Chief bordered this spring and now is quite the mixed bed - working from left to right, or from the front of the house to the rear, we have: a bright fuchsia impatiens; the toad lily the nurseryman gave me as a bonus after I loaded up on hellebores & ferns; a chunk of lilies-of-the-valley that I transplanted from an even shadier spot in hopes that they'll actually bloom; and an assortment of daylilies, vinca, some purple flower whose name I don't know, and the ferns I planted there this year.

I was quite busy in the garden - in addition to planting all those ferns, I moved one hellebore from the Chief's calladium bed to the hellebore bed, where it replaced one that had died. One of the 3 I bought yesterday ended up in the only empty spot in the bed under the mailbox. With luck, that will fill in the last possible spot in that bed that the local kitties could use as a litter box. (The other 2 hellebores I bought yesterday went into the stepped bed at the cabin, filling a couple of empty spots.) I even planted the huge potted mum we got from one of the guests at last weekend's party out at the cabin. Now we've got a nice, big splash of yellow on that side of the house.

Funny, I don't usually get the urge to plant in the fall, but I did have fun getting good and dirty setting all those plants. The house next door just went on the market Friday and a realtor was showing the place this afternoon as I was out there weeding, digging holes and generally making a mess. Hope I didn't scare 'em off!

I know my "gardening muscles" will hurt tomorrow, and I fed a surprising number of biting insects despite the bug spray, but it was worth it.

And if the Chief does indeed get those additional beds built next spring, then I guess I'll be forced to go back to "our" nurseryman and get more ferns. Wonder what new varieties he'll have in stock by then?

Good & bad together

The weekend at the cabin was a little rocky, as my dad's personality can be off-putting, but we had good weather and a very nice dinner last night.

Mom & I went to the neighborhood nursery, where I picked up 3 more hellebores and several ferns (E. Indian holly, Frizeliae, Autumn and Tassel). Probably because the Chief & I have been such good customers this summer, the nurseryman didn't charge me for the 2 Cardinal flowers (lobelia cardinalis) I picked up, and even gave me a toad lily that's got about half a dozen open blooms, with several buds on it.

Bad news: Mom told Dad, the Chief & me Friday night that one of my brothers-in-law just learned he's got early-stage prostate cancer (and he's only in his 50s!). I talked to said BIL this afternoon and he sounds pretty positive, especially as the doc seems to think they found it early enough that the prognosis is excellent.

Sad news: a gentleman I knew through both social dancing and community theater just died Friday. He'd had a good, long run, but he'll be missed.

Good news: Learned that a friend will be directing a show for one of the companies I work with. Now to work up a really good audition for that show, so I can get into it.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Observing Labor Day weekend

The Chief & I had an open house at the cabin Saturday afternoon. We had perfect weather for it, so the 18 or 20 guests could enjoy the breezes and the view out on our deck. Yesterday we spent much of the afternoon on the "open house tour" the development runs on Memorial Day & Labor Day weekends. Again, good weather for it, and when we can do the tour, we like to see what other people have done with their places, get contractor recommendations, and generally take advantage of the opportunity to compare our place with the others there. (We usually end up deciding that our place is ever so much nicer than anything else in the same category and proceed to count our many blessings.)

I came back this afternoon and am avoiding getting ready for the work week, while the Chief remains out there getting the place ready for my parents, who will be arriving Wednesday. I'll only get to see them for the weekend, while the Chief will get to entertain them until they leave again Monday morning. Good thing he gets along with them, and they think he's great!

And as a fitting end to the weekend (this one's for you, Mom):


"Little Nell"?

We recently hung up a hummingbird feeder out at the cabin and started getting visitors almost immediately. Unfortunately, they weren't all hummingbirds - we also get a lot of wasps or hornets or whatever they are. More often than not, any of these vespids will chase off any hummingbirds who dare to try to feed on what we put out for the birds, not the bees.

The Chief doesn't like these bullies, and will sometimes grab the flyswatter and go outside to do battle, nearly always coming back in with at least one or two more "kills" to his credit. (He has yet to be stung; I hope he can continue that record!) These sallies generally arise when he looks out the window to check the feeder and sees that "Little Nell is under attack!" For some reason, he decided to name the hummingbirds after a flying James Bond gadget of the same name, which the Internet tells me was featured in You Only Live Twice.

Anyone out there in the blogosphere who knows how to discourage bees, wasps, hornets and the like from freeloading at our hummingbird feeder?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Another skill gleaned from community theater

Last night the Chief & I reported to a local community theater to help with their set. Their The Foreigner opens a week from tomorrow. The play is set in a fishing lodge or something like that; the wide "planking" of the walls already looks quite impressive. While the Chief helped with the power-tool work (I think he deliberately didn't wear painting clothes so he could play w/ the power tools), I spread a bit of paint around.

Painting the front of the main platform was nothing special, but when it came to doing the door frames, I got to learn a new technique - creating wood grain! Seems there's this special tool that the internet tells me is called a "graining rocker". Drag it through the wet stain, rock it occasionally to make "knots", and there you go - even close up, it looks like real wood grain.

We also got to see the director during a rehearsal break. He's the same person who directed me in Birdie 2 years ago, and for whom the Chief & I both teched Godspell. As the set designer and another painter and I were saying, this is someone for whom you'd do a bit more, just because he makes absolutely sure you know he appreciates you.

The actor who played Albert Peterson to my Mae Peterson is in this show (at least the 4th time he's worked with this director; he loves him too) and we got to see him during the same rehearsal break, when someone brought him on stage to show him where some of his entrances will be. When he spotted me, he lit up and cried "Mama!" I wonder if he remembers my name? :D

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Clever doc

Thursday I almost included a bit of fingertip among the dinner ingredients. The doc who steri-stripped it told me I'd have to keep it clean & dry for 5 days. In addition to more steri-strips, he gave me a few exam gloves, with instructions to cut off a finger and slide it over the "patient". So far it works just fine - I waited until after showering to change the "glove" and was surprised to see how well it worked. And it's so easy - no trying to juggle ointment & bandaids w/ one hand.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Yes, it's too early to think of Christmas but...

The leader of my church choir has been soliciting music suggestions for the Advent & Christmas seasons. One of our members, after protesting that it's still August, still summer - too soon! went on to suggest a parish Christmas carol party. Any interested parties could just show up in the church social hall, free to bring instruments, voices and perhaps snacks, and we could sing ourselves hoarse. I think that sounds like a WONDERFUL idea! I sure hope it happens.

I don't know if the Chief would come - he's not much for singing. However, if I can assure him that some of the parishioners will be bringing their babies and toddlers, I'm sure I'd have NO trouble persuading him to attend with me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Is Facebook "ruining" blogs?

Have you noticed that some of your favorite blogs aren't being maintained as they once were? Ever wonder if perhaps the writer is posting status updates to Facebook instead?

When I go days (or a week or more) without a blog post, it's usually due to one of these reasons: 1) nothing new to write about ("geez, again with the plants!"); 2) too busy, or busy recovering from being busy, to write. I don't have internet access at work (Uncle Sam doesn't want us checking Facebook or shopping on line on the taxpayer's time), but obviously lots and lots of my FB friends do, or are still on summer break or otherwise have more time for FB than I do. Seeing how often some of them update their status makes me wonder if that's taking the time they used to spend blogging...

Another FB phenomenon I'm sure you've noticed along with me is the number of FB "friends" who are people you don't know all that well, if at all. Sure, we all have someone we can call in the wee hours in a crisis, but how many of your hundreds of FB friends fall into that category? Some of my FB friends are people I did a single show with, X years ago. That's OK, as long as they don't mind that I've blocked all the quizzes and nearly all the apps. But I do wonder sometimes why someone I haven't heard from or laid eyes on in a number of years wants to "friend" me - (brings back of hand to forehead with a melodramatic flourish) am I nothing more than a notch on their FB belt? :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rearranging the furnit-, um, flora

Chief mowed the front lawn today, decided it was too humid to do the back. Instead, he decided this would be a good day to plant the hellebores we bought a coupla weeks ago. (North side of the house, so at least we were working in shade.) He dumped in a big bucket of compost and 2 bags of real topsoil (the stuff we'd bought at the exchange was mostly clay!), mixed it all up, then dug holes so I could install the hellebores. I also moved another one over from another bed. One of the new hellebores was looking awfully sickly; we're hoping it'll revive now that it's properly planted.

The Chief had dug up what's probably lilies of the valley and moved them to build the bed we just populated. I took the displaced plants and put them in the hole left by the hellebore I moved, then dug up a fern that was hanging in from last year and put it in the bed along the driveway. Assuming it continues to hang in there, it'll be the first of a variety of ferns I want to plant in that bed. Ferns will certainly be an improvement over the weeds that occupy most of that bed, along with some vinca and a few daylilies.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where did the evening go?!?

Came home from work and started right into food prep: Brownies for work, salsa for the weekend, veggie lasagne ditto, involving lots of chopping, shredding, grating and other mutilation of vegetables. More friends at the cabin this weekend, need to make sure we can feed the vegetarian as well as the carnivores. But why did I think it would be no big deal doing all this in one night?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Doing our part for the local economy

The Chief and I are planning to put some new windows in the kitchen and went out Friday after I got home from work to see the finalists. We're getting casements! Only "lunch money" more than double-hungs, which surprised me. From there, we went for dinner at my favorite Italian place, where I had the fettucine verde. Spinach noodles, big chunks of eggplant, plenty of ricotta - I love it so much, I almost always order it when we go there. Last stop Ikea, where we got a heapie-cheapie bookcase to use as shelving in our bathroom at the cabin, some $10 folding chairs that we'll use for the open house in a few weeks, and a throw rug to put by the back door to catch the worst of the dirt we track in.

Yesterday we stopped by Borders on the way to E's birthday party because I had several gift cards burning a hole in my pocket. I ended up with 4 CD's (2 musicals, 2 Ella Fitzgeralds) and 6 or 7 books. It was FUN walking outta there with a big bag of goodies, nearly all of them for me! (I did get a few books for friends' new baby.) And I still have one more untouched gift card...

This afternoon, the Chief decided on the spur of the moment that it was time to restock our wine supply, so off we went to buy for ourselves and for the open house. We also stopped in at the Base Exchange to look for a few things. We ended up with a bright yellow metal colander (my grandmother's has long since earned its retirement), a few kitchen gadgets for the cabin, and 3 more CDs, including a 3-disc Dorsey Bros. set. The Chief then wanted to check out Barnes & Noble, where I bought yet another CD and a book for myself and one for a gift. We also stopped into Williams-Sonoma and found tattersall tablecloths on a HUGE sale - nearly 80% off! We took our half-price tablecloth to the register and learned that it was further reduced, so we went back & grabbed the other size and ended up getting both for less than the marked-down price on the larger one. (This is where the textile junkie does her "got a HUGE deal!" dance.)

The things for the cabin are in their "staging area", the books are shelved, the CDs have all been loaded on my iPod, and I can't wait to finish my library books so I can dig into these new ones.

Happy Birthday, both of you

The Chief & I went to a 50th-birthday party Saturday for a friend I've known since we were in our 20s, and I've known E's wife almost as long. Some of the other guests were people they've known even longer. They were smart and ordered in BBQ, then supplemented w/ add'l sides and a wonderful carrot cake from a bakery. (We contributed a home-made peach pie.)

Today I went to a 60th-birthday brunch a former colleague threw for herself. I was a little apprehensive about going when I realized I wouldn't know anyone but the birthday girl (the Chief didn't even know her, so he opted to stay home), but I needn't have worried. I ended up having a nice chat with one woman who promised to e-mail me her pie crust recipe (calls for vegetable oil for the shortening, and soy milk), and a friend or cousin of the birthday girl who teaches "everything!" music at the elementary school level but is also interested in language. Talking food, music, language - lovely! M decided to do this at her synagogue to accommodate the crowd of 40 or so, and they put on a nice little brunch spread - bagels, cream cheese, lox, hummus, some wonderful baba ghanouj, a mixed-greens salad w/ strawberries in it, then an excellent sheet cake & make-your-own sundaes. M's 2 sisters presented a slide show of old family photos starring M - I think we all loved seeing her in ringlets, Mary Janes, and party dresses.

It was fun seeing the similarities & contrasts in the 2 parties and their honorees, and I'm glad I was able to attend both. Happy birthday, both of you.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Touch of theatrical withdrawal

I gotta get to a show soon. I haven't seen anything since my Fringe show closed a couple of weeks ago, and because of planned travel there's no point in my auditioning for anything yet, which makes it a bit sad to have to delete all the audition notices that have started hitting my Inbox. :( A local company is doing Gypsy - maybe the Chief & I will go see it so I can get a theater fix.


The Chief bought more peaches this week; a LOT more peaches (3 quarts). Not as ripe as the last batch, but now that I'm once more in possession of the "good" peach pie recipe, I'm sure they'll bake up just fine. Though I still can't find my pastry cloth and rolling pin sock...

Come by the house in a few hours - it'll smell wonderful!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Parties and perambulations

All of a sudden we're looking at a nice string of parties and travel. This past weekend was the block party with our cabin neighbors. This coming weekend brings a 50th and a 60th birthday party, we're planning an open house out at the cabin for Labor Day weekend, and hoping to host my parents there the following weekend.

Travel includes a long weekend trip to Williamsburg, another long weekend at the Outer Banks, and our week-and-a-bit vacation in England, which takes us within shouting distance of holiday trips to NYC and KC.

I don't see how I'll be able to do any shows that open before December at the earliest, which means the Chief won't become a Theater Widower again for a couple of months.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Flora & fauna

The Chief & I spent the weekend at the cabin, the highlight of which was the 4th annual block party. The hostesses managed to get the one nice day of the weekend, and temps barely in the 80s - perfect for lounging around under the trees and visiting with part-time neighbors. We also met a couple who own a place a block or two over and who sided their home with log siding a few years ago. The Chief was very interested in hearing about how they did it and took the husband back to our place to get his opinion on our doing the same. After they'd been gone a while, the wife & I went back to find them. I ended up giving her a tour of the place. She admired the quilt I'd found for the upstairs guest room (see below); turns out she does a lot of needlework. I'm hoping to get a chance to see her wares; might be suitable for Christmas presents.

We saw a lot of deer this weekend, several hummingbirds (makes me want to load up our feeder), and even some wild turkeys wandering across the road as I was heading home. No woodpeckers this weekend, but that was my first turkey sighting in 2 years, so that makes up for it, I guess.

We went over to the nursery again and left with 4 more hellebores and a walnut sapling. The walnut is only a couple of feet tall; a "volunteer" the squirrels planted in one of the pots meant for sale. The nurseryman got it for free, so he gave it to us as a "free to good home". Now to find out what we need to do to make sure it doesn't up & die on us (like the parsley plant I bought and managed to kill).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Florida-lush impatiens!

When we used to visit my parents in Florida when they were doing the snowbird thing, I used to be terribly jealous of the magnificently lush impatiens they had down there. We'd come home, I'd wait eagerly for late March to get my own bedding plants, but my impatiens never got as big or lush. Last year, in fact, they barely got a foothold; we never did figure out why they fared so poorly.

This year, however, has been a banner year for my impatiens. We had a very cool, very wet spring that lasted well into June, and even at the end of July we've had very few days with highs in the 90s and have enjoyed relatively low humidity. My impatiens seem to be loving that - they're the biggest, lushest flowers I've ever had - I may even have to move a few because they're crowding each other so!

Better still, I have a bonus - some tiny little volunteer violas (I think) that somehow managed to sneak into the impatiens bed and hold their own against the bigger, bolder flowers. Can you make out those tiny little splashes of yellow & blue amid all the pinks?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thoughts on directors

Most of the shows I've done have been musicals or operettas and in nearly all of those, I've been in the chorus/ensemble. I've learned a lot watching how the principals did their thing, so that when I was cast in a small role, with 75 lines (Comedy of Errors, Abbess Emelia), I wasn't completely at sea (even if I did keep waiting for the rehearsal accompanist to show up). Aside from a comment from the director during the "cut-up" rehearsal ("I don't know where that came from, but keep it!"), I didn't get much in the way of direction. Since I had one of the smallest roles in the show and the 2 romantic-lead couples pretty much carried the show, I didn't think much of it. I did have a scene with one of the female leads in which I thought she was misinterpreting the language. The director said nothing, so I did the same. To this day, I don't know if the director was just that hands-off or really didn't realize the error.

When I got my first lead, as Pitti-Sing in The Mikado, I similarly got very little specific direction. In that case, I think that was largely because the director had her hands full, as she was also playing Katisha. I did go up to the AD at one point and ask her about a scene in which I felt a little adrift; she reassured me that my instincts were just fine, but she'd say something if she thought it necessary. It probably also made a difference that the director realized I probably knew the show better than she did, having done it once already and seen several productions of it. At one point during the run, she even teased me that "you probably could play just about any role in this thing!"

I thin the most direction I ever got was playing Mae Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie. There was one scene the director kept running because we just weren't giving him the right reactions. That was about the physical interaction; I don't remember getting any direction about line readings, though I did ask about a couple of pronunciations as I worked on a New York Jewish accent.

In fact, looking back, I think all the directors I've worked with have avoided giving specific line readings (at least in my hearing), even in cases where I thought the actor in question was either doing it incorrectly (that one Comedy of Errors scene) or that a different reading might have served the text better or been more in character.

Being fairly new and inexperienced in having lines to give, I think I'd feel more comfortable if a director would address my line readings, whether to tell me I'm on the right track or to tweak an emphasis here or an intonation pattern there. Not sure if that's driven by insecurity, a desire for more attention, or just my love of all things language.

Similarly, I'd welcome suggestions for ways to bring the character to life physically as well as verbally - a gait, a gesture, posture, etc. At least let me know if I tend to, say, thrust my head forward or to stoop in certain situations if those don't suit the character or, worse, affect my vocal production.

I wonder if this kind of general, hands-off style is typical of all directors, or just those in community theater. Looks like it may be past time for me to sign up for an acting class or two and get some insight.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fruit pies are in season

I baked a peach pie Wednesday for the Chief's birthday, and an apple pie yesterday. The peach pie wasn't a big success - had to use a recipe with almost no seasoning, so I had to guess at what and how much to add, and I didn't have the thickener (instant tapioca) it called for, so it was pretty runny. It didn't help that I added too much water when making the crust, so it was pretty soggy. Fortunately, the Chief had scored some wonderful farmer's-market peaches, so the peaches themselves tasted MAH-velous!

The apple pie was full of Macintosh apples - turned out a little dry for my taste, but the Chief thought it was absolutely fine, claiming he doesn't like "juicy" pies. I watched the water when making the crust this time, and used butter instead of milk or an egg on the top crust, which made it nice & crisp.

But I sure would love to know where my pastry cloth & rolling pin sock are hiding. I have dishtowels that will do in a pinch for the pastry cloth, but I need my rolling pin sock to keep the dough from sticking. Ah well, I managed, and the Chief never noticed the difference.

"Get out of Hell free"

My Fringe show has closed and cast & crew have all been given our "get out of Hell free" cards. The last show was the worst - a leaky pipe had shorted out half the sound board, so that we could only just hear the higher-pitched notes in the sound track. I think we should've given the audience a refund and a sympathy card for suffering through our attempts to sing along with a sound track we couldn't hear. The reviews were just short of scathing - the reviewers did keep in mind that they were reviewing people, with feelings, who were painfully aware of their shortcomings. I just checked the ratings of the 100+ Fringe shows - on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being "Pick of the Fringe", we were one of 4 shows to get a 1.

One lesson learned from this - I will do my utmost to avoid at all costs doing another musical with a canned sound track. Even when I did a show with our 2 accompanists behind the set, they could at least hear us well enough to adjust when we got out of synch with them. The best situation is a conductor you can see, waving that magic wand that keeps us all together (assuming we're paying attention to it, of course), but after this, I've learned NEVER to take live music for granted, even if they're placed where we can't see them. As someone else mentioned, it's easy to understand why the Broadway performers supported the musicians' strike!

Other lessons
- Check the MD's credentials to make sure he or she has done this before, successfully.
- If they can't come up w/ an audition accompanist, ask whether there'll be a rehearsal accompanist. If not, don't audition. (I admit it - trying to learn my music from an mp3 was a huge challenge, which I never met to my satisfaction.)
- Try to work with companies that tend to get an audition turn-out greater than the number of roles being cast. Stiff competition for roles tends to produce better performances than little or no competition.
- Working with the playwright can be challenging if said author/lyricist/composer can't maintain a degree of objectivity about his/her "baby".
- Theatrical talent and savvy can come in teenage packages.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Domestic perfume?

TW's birthday is coming up, but he decided he didn't feel like going out to dinner last night after all. Instead, I made one of his favorites - pot roast, with homemade mashed potatoes and Moroccan carrots. That and a bottle of wine made for a very nice dinner, and the smell of the pot roast as it simmered in the crockpot all day permeated the house - yummmm!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Over too soon!

That was quick! My cabaret workshop has come & gone; Monday thru Thursday working on mic technique, patter, delivery, arrangements, etc., culminating in a little performance & reception for family & friends last night. I think we all sang the best of the week. I'm even pretty happy with how I did, despite forgetting a few chunks of the 2nd verse of "Distract Me". There were more friends in the audience than I'd expected - not just my husband, our songwriter neighbor and another neighbor, but my last voice teacher (one of my classmates is taking from her) and a few theater friends. I always feel better knowing I have friends in the audience.

It was fun: the 10 of us in the class had ourselves a little "love fest", cheering each other on; I enjoyed the singing despite my memory lapses; working with our brilliant accompanist made me feel like a pro - I wanna do this again! Fortunately, our instructor e-mailed us all to say there'll be a "weekend intensive" version coming up sometime this fall. I responded immediately, asking to know the second a date is decided so I can keep that weekend free.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm in love!

The accompanist for this cabaret workshop is brilliant. He's been able to play with apparent ease everything we've thrown at him (20 songs in a pretty wide variety of genres), has the style of each, can improvise intros, bridges, vamps and endings, and gave me a couple of little delivery tweaks that are perfect for one of my songs. He plays with joy & enthusiasm, and absolutely radiates his love of this stuff. The man's an absolutely gifted accompanist, too - when he's playing with you, you'd swear he's breathing right along with you.

Can you tell I'm a fan? :D

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Shoot me now! Today I gave what was easily my worst theatrical performance EVER. I have the first vocal entrance in the first musical number of the show; I couldn't tell where we were in the music, so I completely missed that entrance. And it went downhill from there. Late or missed vocal entrances, actually forgot a bit of choreography (and at least 3 people told me they were wondering where I was, because I was the one they were cueing off of, heaven help them!). Fer cryin' out loud, I even skipped a costume change, which made me late for a subsequent entrance because changing out of the wrong costume took longer than changing out of what I should have been wearing. Which meant the rest of the cast had to ad lib until I got out there. And by the time we got to the last musical number, we were having a helluva time hearing the music (apparently, if it's loud enough for us to hear on stage, the audience can't hear us over the music), so I was screwing up right, left & center.

I know, I know, I'll do better tomorrow. Lord knows, I've got nowhere to go but up! But right now I just want to pull out of the show, move to some remote location (I hear New Zealand's nice) and lie low until today is forgotten.

The one good thing is that TW didn't come to see the show, so he didn't have to witness me going down in flames. At this rate, I don't know if I'll let him see it; too mortifying.

That was good.

Wednesday I went to a cabaret performance by the woman teaching the cabaret workshop I'm taking next week. Tech Week-induced scrambled brains meant I got there just in time for the last few songs, but I really enjoyed those few. L has an incredibly versatile voice and is a wonderful performer. Now I'm seriously psyched for this workshop next week; gonna be fun!

No fair!

So, the usual tech week exhaustion, this because I didn't take any time off work, not because we have marathon rehearsals every night. My idiot body clock woke me up this morning at 5:30 in anticipation of the alarm clock, obviously not realizing that it's SATURDAY and I actually get to SLEEP IN! Or would have. After about an hour of lying in bed, with show music playing non-stop in my head, I gave up.

I might try to go back to bed for a bit, but with a few things still to do before a theater company annual meeting at 11:30 and a Fringe speed-thru at 3 before our Opening Performance at 5, I don't expect my brain to downshift sufficiently that I'd actually be able to sleep.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A short respite

Learned that my voice teacher's recital, originally scheduled for early August, is now getting moved to September or October. That means the rest of my summer is rehearsal- and performance-free as soon as my Fringe show closes July 25th. I feel so much better prepared for this year's recital that I'm actually looking forward to it. That's a big change from last year's, when I'd only been taking with this teacher a few months and was nervous about my recital pieces right up until I started singing. Still, it'll be nice to be able to relax a while.

Feeling better about this

Sunday night's rehearsal was pretty bad, and last night's was HORRIBLE! One of my fellow castmembers shared this afternoon that "the audience looked like they were in pain"; probably an accurate assessment. We were dropping lines and missing vocal entrances right, left & center, even places we'd never had problems before. Maybe we were thrown by having enough room to work for the first time ever. (I had reserved my church's social hall and taped out the dimensions of the stage we'll be working on.) Whatever it was, I was about ready to slit my wrists in despair.

This afternoon we had just over 3 hours in the space - our only rehearsal there before we open on Saturday! It went much better than last night (it pretty much HAD to get better; couldn't have been too much worse), so that now I'm almost optimistic. ;)

It's been weird not having a proper tech week. Every other show I've done has been able to load in the weekend before opening or, in a few rare cases, even earlier. This gave us upwards of 4 nights in the theater with the sets, sound, lights, etc., and each rehearsal ran at least 4 hours. I'm still a bit nervous about not getting to work in the space again until we have an audience, but we did well enough today that the nerves aren't unmanageable, fala Bogu.

Another thing making this a weird tech week is that today's tech was in the afternoon; I was home and done by 5 or shortly thereafter. I can go to bed early during Tech week! What a concept! And tomorrow we have no rehearsal at all, so I'm going to the cabaret performance of the woman teaching the cabaret workshop I'm taking next week. (Which reminds me - I'd better start solidifying that memorization - we're supposed to have both our pieces memorized when we show up for the first session on Monday.)

This being a Fringe Festival, the 5 core venues are booked pretty tightly. In practical terms, that means we only get to show up an hour before curtain and half an hour before they start letting the audience in, and get into the dressing rooms only 45 minutes before curtain. We have 2 rooms perhaps 8 feet square serving as dressing rooms. They have mirrors and room for a clothing rack but nothing else, so I'll need to remember to put my make-up on before I leave the house on performance nights. Heretofore, I've always put it on after I got to the theater, perhaps because I could leave my stuff there. Not here. We do get a 2'x4' area where we're storing the cubes that are serving as set pieces, along with a few other large items, but costumes, props and personal items have to be cleared out within 15 minutes of the final bow.

Enough already!

Why is it that all the media seem to feel obliged to cover Michael Jackson's death, memorial and the legal wrangling in such detail? When he first died, you'd have thought the man was the Pope, JFK, Gandhi and a Nobel prizewinner, the way the event was getting 24/7 coverage. The man was talented, no question, but he wasn't a head of state or leader of a major (or even minor) world religion, he didn't cure cancer or bring even a temporary peace to the Middle East.

And it's not as though nothing else important is going on. Iranian protesters are still demonstrating (or trying to) against the outcome of that country's presidential election, North Korea continues to threaten to fire missiles at S. Korea, Japan, Hawaii or anyone else it can reach, the Chinese government is hammering their Uighur minority, things are heating up in Afghanistan... Sure, those events are happening far from home, but they deserve more than a tiny little "crawl" along the bottom of a full-screen showing of the "Thriller" video for the umpteenth time.

Monday, July 06, 2009


TW and I were out at the cabin last weekend, checked out a farmer's market and, as always, overbought. I ended up making a batch of blueberry muffins yesterday to use up a pint of berries while they were still fit to eat, had the last of 'em on my cereal this morning. I also bought a parsley plant and two mints - one peppermint and one spearmint. The mints are now in nice, spacious pots out at the cabin, so we'll have fresh mint for iced tea. Yummmm.

A little pressure off

Just got an e-mail from my voice teacher. She's rescheduling her studio recital from August to sometime in September or October. That means that the performance-free part of my summer will now start July 26th, after my Fringe Festival show closes, instead of 2 weeks later, after the recital. This is a good thing.

Friday, June 26, 2009

But I'm not ready!

TW pointed out to me last night that my show opens just 2 weeks from tomorrow! ACK! I am so not ready! I've got 2 scenes where I definitely do not have my lines memorized yet (TW has promised to help me run lines this weekend - so much for a relaxing weekend at the cabin). Worse, I'm still learning nearly all the music, and we have one number we haven't even gone over yet. Yike!

We had our first of only 2 choreography rehearsals earlier this week. Straightforward stuff, fortunately, and easy to memorize.

I realize I've been very spoiled with the musicals and operettas I've done up to now. This is the first musical I've done where our "accompanist" was a CD, not a human. I have to completely relearn how to learn my music, since it's often hard to hear my musical cue in the accompaniment. Complicating things is the fact that the stressed syllables of words often do not fall on the downbeat and much of the music is irregularly syncopated, making it very tricky in places to get the timing right.

If I feel under-rehearsed, I'm sure that's due in no small part to the fact that our rehearsals have been scheduled for only 2 hours instead of the 3 I'm used to. You can't cover nearly as much material if you don't have that 3rd hour, but our director has tried very hard to make sure the middle- and high-schoolers in the cast aren't up too late on a school night, so we've been stopping at 9 p.m. Now, though, we work until we get as far as we need to, and we may well lay on another rehearsal. Not that I want to give up a Sunday (I've loved having no weekend rehearsals for this show), but boy, do I need more rehearsal time!

I suspect I'm not the only one who feels that way, too. Some of us have some dance background, some don't, but the music is presenting particular challenges. Not only is it hard to learn, but several people have expressed their frustration that they don't read music, aren't used to singing harmony rather than melody, etc. This has sometimes meant spending 10 minutes or more on a single, tricky phrase, which means we haven't gotten nearly as far as I'd like. (Yeah, I know; I gotta quit being such a nervous nelly and learn the stuff, already.)

OK, enough whingeing; back to learning my lines & music.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This T-shirt made me chuckle.

While waiting for my train this afternoon, I was passed by someone wearing a T-shirt that read "Jesus hates the Yankees". When I chuckled, he smiled and said "Right?" Must be a Boston fan...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

This is gonna be fun!

Met this morning w/ the woman teaching next month's cabaret workshop so she could vet my choices for a ballad & up tempo. She OK'ed my choice of Distract Me from Wooing the Lorelei for my up tempo. This is very cool, as I'll be singing an original piece, probably with the songwriter herself sitting in the audience!

I like this woman - for all that I walked in on a Saturday morning, recovering from a migraine and with my voice still sound asleep, she ran me through a few warm-ups and commented on how she liked my voice.

The friend who told me about the cabaret workshop takes voice lessons from this woman and has proposed that she & I work w/ her to find 2 guys and put together a modest production of Jacques Brel is Alive & Well & Living in Paris, or at least selections from same. With the Fringe production, recital and cabaret looming large, I haven't had time to think about it for at least a month, but now that I've met w/ L and gotten to play cabaret a teeny tiny bit, I'm getting excited about this project again.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A little thing, I know...

... but still. I contacted customer service for the rental car company I used on last month's business trip to find out when my rental would be credited. The woman responded using the title "Mr". Um, no; check out my profile and you'll see that my first name is not one I've ever heard of used as a boy's name, isn't an either/or name (e.g, Chris), nor is it one like Ashley that used to be a man's name (think Ashley Wilks in Gone With the Wind).

When I responded with a follow-up question, it took her a full week to get back to me. Again addressing me as "Mr". Methinks their customer service rep training program could do with a little work.

Does anyone train these guys?!?

A week ago Friday we had a security system installed. The installer had some problems (the phone line he was hooking it into was the old-fashioned kind, where the phone company used to have to send someone out to physically attach a phone to the wiring) and the job ended up taking nearly4 1/2 hours - completely wiped out my Friday night! We then had to have him come back because the air conditioner was no longer kicking in - seems he'd stapled through the thermostat wiring. Oh, and he'd left one of his tools behind, while forgetting to leave any of the "protected by" stickers he was supposed to give us.

Today TW was at the cabin to let in the installer for that security system. (We'd had some pilferage out there.) He first called me when the guy had been there a good 4 hours to tell me how bad a job the installer was doing. First he had to cut the wiring a couple of times because he kept getting it too short, then he ended up cutting the phone line, which we'd just had installed a week ago! =:o TW wanted me to talk to the guy who'd written up the order and express our, oh, "dissatisfaction", shall we say. I outlined the problems we'd now had with two of the company's installers - jobs that should have taken no more than 3 hours for both (according to what the first installer told me) were taking at least 3 times that because the guys couldn't seem to get it right the first time. If we'd had to take time off for work for this, it would have been at least one full day, possibly two. The promotional guy had suggested giving the installer a tip because he'd be spending so much time in transit instead of on a job; I think you can imagine how much of a tip that guy's going to be getting...