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