Saturday, December 11, 2010

Date night!

Last night TW decided we'd go see a movie tonight, something we haven't done since January. We settled on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which was very well done - enjoyed the cinematography and most of the characterizations. Caspian was still something of a cipher, but we quite liked Lucy and Edmund, and I loved Reepicheep! Eustace was also very good.

After the movie (and a sidetrip to pick up a Christmas present), we went to a nearby diner for dinner. I even got a free milkshake to go w/ my burger, courtesy of my movie ticket stub. We'd have gone there anyway, but it was nice to get a little freebie. TW and I had a bit of a theological discussion about death & dying, but it wasn't morbid; more a "wonder if it's like this..." discussion.

Unfortunately, he wasn't feeling too well even when we left the house, so he went to bed as soon as we got home. We're hoping a good night's sleep will take care of whatever it was.

Waiting for a call

TW's been calling home daily since Sunday, checking on his mom. I doubt she'll be with us much longer: she's gotten so weak they don't even try to get her out of bed, just shift her so she doesn't get bed sores, and when TW calls, they have to hold the phone for her. TW's brother said she sleeps pretty much 24/7 now, and no longer eats - just takes a bit of one of those nutrition drinks. TW says when he's talked to her, he's heard her making little grunts of pain. I wonder how soon God will take her Home; it breaks my heart to know she's suffering.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

This could be a really sucky Christmas

I've been bracing myself for the pain of our first Christmas without Mom. The rest of us will all be together, but that gaping, Mom-sized hole is gonna be raw.

TW called home earlier this afternoon to let his brother know we were planning to come up for another visit next weekend, but he waved us off. MuMu is more & more out of it (she asked TW, again, how the kids are), so I guess P thinks she won't know us if we visit. From what TW relayed, it sounds like MuMu's decline is accelerating; last week, just making the short trip to the bathroom tired her enough that she needed oxygen for 5 or 10 minutes before returning to her recliner. She's weak, she's in pain, and she's outlasted the 3-6 months the docs gave her when they diagnosed her terminal cancer 8 months ago.

This could affect our plans to spend Christmas with my family - they live in the midwest, while MuMu & P live 5 or 6 hours' drive northeast of us. Depending on how much longer God gives MuMu, we might end up going north for a funeral before going west for Christmas (or post-Christmas), or cutting our midwest trip short to head back east for a funeral. Or MuMu might hang in there until after New Year's. As the Russian proverb says, God knows and he ain't tellin'! (OK, so it's a colloquial translation, but it made Mom laugh.)

Pray for us all - it's been a helluva year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sick - phooey!

Started out as a normal day - got up, dragged my sleepy self into some clothes, fetched the paper... Then the bug hit - pesky little GI bug that had me making 5 or 6 trips to the bathroom in less than an hour. Thinking it was simply a matter of too much of a good thing at dinner last night, I debated going into work anyway - spent all day yesterday moving desks and getting reorganized, not doing any actual work - but decided not to risk it. That turned out to be the right decision, as I later realized I'm also running a low-grade fever.

I'm just glad I didn't get this last week - I would have had to pass on going to MuMu's for Thanksgiving, as I couldn't risk infecting her, or the Chief's brother, for that matter.

I had to cancel my voice lesson, which was disappointing, as I missed last week because we were headed for Thanksgiving with the Chief's family. Now it'll be a 3-week gap between lessons. At least it gives me more time to make duplicates of some of my repertory candidates, and maybe even work on memorizing some of 'em. Not today, though; I've got all the energy of an overcooked noodle.

And I find myself doing my usual: "I'm home today anyway, so I'll have time to do X and Y and Z." Time, yes; energy, no. As I have to remind myself, the reason I'm home is that I'm not up to working; that includes attempting to be productive at home.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Having fun dirtying dishes

Another food-producing weekend - salmon spread after we got home yesterday afternoon, with leftovers for dinner. Today was the big push - an "experimental" pot roast, testing how good it is without the 1750mg-of-sodium onion soup mix; butternut squash soup (huge batch - filled 5 4-cup containers, so 1.25 gallons); and pumpkin pie.

The pot roast had 1 lb. of mushrooms to about the same amount of meat - good gravy! It tasted different without the flavored-sodium "soup mix", but the mushrooms & canned (low-sodium) mushroom soup, we got a lot of great gravy. I also tried a slightly different cut of meat, with less fat; good choice. I'll have to remember to get the loin pot roast instead of chuck roast next time the Chief wants pot roast.

Tomorrow I'll make a batch of veggie-beef soup to use up the shredded cabbage I didn't use in the squash soup. Some of that will go to one of the neighbors, some to the freezer. If I had any yeast in the house, I'd be tempted to make some bread to go with it.

I shouldn't have to do much more than reheat stuff for dinner the rest of the week, as we now have enough food on hand for a siege: leftover pot roast from Monday, enough "experimental" pot roast for one person, a bit of turkey left over from Thanksgiving with the Chief's family, salmon spread, squash soup, veggie-beef soup by tomorrow night, and fixings for the usual "vat o' salad" that I take to work for lunch. And except for the pumpkin pie, it's all healthy, too!

The Chief spent at least 3 hours raking leaves, yet volunteered to do all the dishes I dirtied in the course of my cooking fit - what a guy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kitchen diva

I spent most of Saturday in the kitchen - baked & pureed a pumpkin and 2 butternut squash, the usual vat o' salad for lunches, got a pot roast going in the crock pot. The pumpkin was particularly labor-intensive, as the strings & seeds didn't want to let go and the pumpkin "meat" was a little dry, making it harder to puree. It had a lovely deep color, though, so I'll be making a pumpkin pie next weekend. (That's the problem with going to someone else's house for Thanksgiving - no leftovers.)

The butternut squash were much more cooperative. They have far less to scrape out, for one thing, and these were just moist enough to puree beautifully. I'm looking forward to making soup with them this weekend and freezing at least half of it for future meals.

I always sautee the mushrooms that go into the pot roast, which makes the cooking meat smell even better. Between that and the baked squashes, our kitchen smelled very good indeed this weekend.

I think this coming weekend may rival it, though. The Chief wants me to try a low-sodium variation of the pot roast recipe (it's a huge favorite of his, so he won't suffer by having it again so soon), and of course I'm planning to make pumpkin pie and butternut squash soup. I'm making myself hungry just thinking about it. ;)

Adventures in blocking

Yesterday was our first blocking rehearsal and our director decided to start out with some movement since, as she noted, auditions hadn't included a dance or movement sequence. A little bit of grapevine, then a bit of very basic charleston, in groups small enough that she could watch everyone in them. I was doing pretty well, but the soles on my character shoes were obviously slicker than I realized, as my left heel suddenly shot out from under me. It must have looked like something right out of an old cartoon - felt like my heel went forward and up! I landed on my left, er, padding and caught myself w/ my left hand. Hurt like crazy at first, but after a while I was OK. I took something for it last night and again this morning, just in case.

This afternoon, though, the wrist started getting a little achey so I stopped by a drugstore on the way home to get a brace. Nothing serious - no metal strips or anything like that - just enough to provide a little support and remind me to baby the wrist for a bit.

Who says rehearsals are boring? That little pratfall certainly got everyone stirred up! All the more reason to replace my character shoes, which have always made my feet hurt anyway. Next weekend's To Do list just got "Buy new character shoes" added to it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Methinks I need a copier.

I've recently bought several songs from for potential audition, recital or "future reference" repertory pieces (I may yet put a cabaret together), and there's a how-to book of 1920s and 1930s hairstyles I want to download & print for LBH. Either I run to the local Kinko's competitor to make copies of some of these things and get the book printed & bound, or I invest in a better printer that will do 2-sided copies, among other things.

Oh. what a beautiful weekend!

The Chief & I got out to the cabin this weekend; first time I'd been there since the beginning of October. We had unseasonably mild weather - highs in the 60s! - and sun. Still a few leaves on most of the trees, with some sugar maples & burning bush retaining enough leaves to look spectacular in direct sunlight!

I treated myself to a much-needed massage on Saturday. I hadn't realized how knotted up I was until my favorite massage therapist started untying them; some of my muscles still ache a little from holding those knots for so long. I'm hoping to get out to the cabin again sometime in December, in which case I'll definitely try to book another massage. And maybe I'll get another one to get the new year off to a good start...

I also stopped by our nurseryman out there to get some more compost and have a bit of a visit.

The Chief & I did a bit of antiquing before evening mass, then ended up going out to dinner instead of having left-overs. He enjoyed his bison burger and I had a very good portobella cap sandwich with melted goat cheese and fried (!) spinach on it.

Today I headed home early enough to go over to DB's and help him get 250 spring bulbs into the ground; housewarming present for his new house. He said narcissi remind him of his mom, so it's a good thing we had more of those (63, assorted) than about anything else. I had also bought him 60 assorted crocus bulbs, 20 assorted mini-irises, 17 red tulips and 10 snowdrops. I told him I'll probably want to swing by several times during the spring to see how everything comes up. Several of the narcissus bulbs were doubles; as I told him, those are two-fers.

Still had plenty of daylight left when I zipped home to get a shower and some lunch before rehearsal. We sound pretty darn good already, and it's fun to watch our MD's face when we hit a particularly meaty passage - he lights up at the richness of the sound. Helping that is the fact that another show he's directing, which is in tech this week, has a much smaller cast and therefore a smaller sound.

I got home to find the Chief starting dinner (the leftovers we passed on last night), so we had a nice, cozy dinner a deux and a quiet evening at home. Lovely end to a lovely weekend.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Does anyone know...

Does anyone happen to know how the Gallup pollsters managed to get my cellphone number when it's on the Do Not Call list? This is the first time I've gotten a call on that number that wasn't family, friends or the occasional wrong number. (There's this lovely woman somewhere in southern Virginia whose friend or relative has a number that's just one digit off mine. Every so often, she misdials and gets me instead.) I tried to cut the guy off politely - he's just doing his job, after all, and wasn't rude or otherwise ill-behaved - but I haven't slept well the past few nights because of this cold I'm getting, so it was hard not to get crabby about it.

What a lovely day for a stroll

Saturday was chilly but sunny so the Chief decided we should ignore our respective "honey do" lists and take a day trip, or at least a half-day trip. We ended up at one of the lovelier campuses in the area, though we couldn't tour the historic chapel because they seemed to be tag-teaming weddings in there. We did get to stroll past the older buildings, admire the "superintendent's" lovely gardens, watch a tour group led by a costumed docent, and treated ourselves to a nice lunch at a restaurant with pub aspirations and some excellent crab cakes. We got home in plenty of time for an early dinner and movie at home.

No, we haven't caught up on our domestic duties yet, but it was nice to kick off the traces and have a date.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Cooking up a storm

Sunday was a major "kitchen goddess" day. Between church and rehearsal I fixed a pan of brownies, some spinach/chick pea stew and a big pot of vegetarian bolognese sauce (a huge eggplant, 1 lb. of carrots and 1/2 lb. diced mushrooms were the principle ingredients), so that the kitchen smelled absolutely fantastic by the time I left for rehearsal. When I got home, I then fixed some salmon spread and a pot of meat sauce, which tastes good both on its own and mixed with the eggplant sauce. Got a hungry army? We've got enough food to feed one! Well, OK, maybe not an army, maybe just a platoon. Or one hungry teenage boy.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Came home to chaos - roofers all over the front of the roof, one big truck in the driveway and a second in front of the house, a ladder blocking the front door, tarps over much of the front yard to catch the worst of the debris, and banging & knocking I could hear a block from home. They apparently found a lot of structural wood rot in the section that had been leaking - no surprise there - and had to replace 2 or 3 4'x8' sheets of 3/4" plywood. Fortunately, it's a sunny day, if a bit chilly, so they should be able to make good progress.

Roofers were also swarming over the shed roof. It seems the pitch is slight enough that it should have a composite roof instead of the shingles that are on it, so they're replacing that roof with the proper kind, as well as repairing the hole made by a huge branch that hit the roof ridge in a windstorm a week or two ago. The Chief will like that - it'll mean his future woodshop will be good and weatherproof.

Hurray for roofers who not only return phone calls but show up in force to do the work!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Speaking of Pirates and Halloween...

Got this link from a couple of friends' FB status. Very good video - well sung, the scansion works, clear, uncluttered images, and a lot of fun. Perfect timing, too, given that I'll be seeing Pirates this evening, the show this song is taken from. Enjoy!

Pirates for Halloween

I don't generally get into Halloween. Last year we were on vacation, 2 years ago I was on stage (Sound of Music ran over that weekend), carving a pumpkin is too much work, and I generally get my costume fix by doing community theater. However, the production of Pirates I auditioned for is running over Halloween and at tonight's performance (for adults) and tomorrow's matinee (for kids), they're encouraging people to dress up as pirates, Stanley wards, etc. They're actually having a contest, with the winners getting a walk-on in the show! Even better, they're having audience sing-alongs for at least a few of the songs, though I don't know whether we'll do our singing before the show or during it. I'm going with my friend & former voice teacher & her oldest; we all plan to dress up and sing our little hearts out. Can't wait!

The one downer is that the Chief is opting out. He's had his fill of Pirates, hates Halloween, and I suspect would much rather not be seen with me if I'm in costume. :D

"La Belle Helene" it is

As expected, I wasn't called back for Romeo & Juliet. I don't have the official word, but I'm assuming that means I'm not cast. The Chief took the call from the Whorehouse folks yesterday - "thanks but no thanks". That surprised me a little - I didn't think I'd sung that badly - and I find I wanted to be the one to tell them "no, thanks". :D However, since I'd already accepted ensemble for La Belle Helene, it doesn't really matter.

Belle Helene read-thru tomorrow - we'll get our copies of the score & libretto, find out what the director has in mind for us, start digging into the music. It's been too long - can't wait to get into a production again!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

And "Whorehouse" for the trifecta

Last night was my 3rd audition in 4 days; this one was for Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I picked an audition piece at the last minute so I didn't get much rehearsal time with it. That showed last night - I didn't sing badly, but I was so busy worrying about killing the "opera" in my sound that I ended up killing the sound a bit too. I didn't do badly with the dance combo, which was kinda fun, but I'd be very surprised if they offer me anything but ensemble.

Of my 9-person group, 8 of us sang unremarkably. The 9th, however, did a vibrant rendition of Eddie Rabbitt's "Kentucky Rain" - obviously well rehearsed, and he had a lovely, rich baritone. He was also the only one of the lot of us who actually sounded country. I don't know how he did with the dance combo - I was too busy worrying about how I was doing with it - but I'll be very much surprised if they don't cast him.

Here's where I stand on the 3 auditions:
- I've just been offered chorus in La Belle Helene;
- still waiting to hear about Romeo & Juliet, though I'm expecting "thanks but no thanks"; and
- we were assured last night that we all will hear one way or the other by Friday night about Whorehouse.

When I saw the e-mail with La Belle Helene in the subject line and callbacks not until Thursday, I had a moment of excitement; until I opened it and found the "thank you for auditioning; we'd like to offer you a part in the chorus". Sigh. I keep hoping that eventually I'll break outta the chorus with this group, but there are too many other, younger, better mezzos out there. Still, given a choice between ensemble in this show and in Whorehouse, I'll go with this group, largely because I want to work with this director. She does this professionally, so I want to see how she works. I do want to work with the other group, but their rehearsals are quite a bit further away (17 miles one way vs 8 miles round trip). I'll just keep auditioning for them; eventually I'll get in.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

And now for something a bit different...

... at least for me - an audition for a straight play. No music involved at all.

Yesterday's was for a production of Romeo & Juliet. The director got us chuckling in his introductory remarks when, after thanking us for auditioning, he mentioned he was pleased to see how many of us weren't auditioning for Juliet. Maybe because I spent so much energy on Friday's audition, I wasn't at all nervous about yesterday's, even though I went in without a prepared monologue. I just did a cold reading of one of the monologues from the audition site which I'd downloaded only a few hours earlier. As I was doing it, I felt my reading was a bit too same-y - not enough variety of emotions that might have been displayed - but I don't think I did too badly when they had us reading scene selections. Didn't fall on my face or otherwise disgrace myself, so I'm satisfied with how I did. I didn't cover myself in glory, though, and there were at least 2 women there who did quite well, with more auditions tonight, so I expect a "thanks but no thanks" call sometime in the next week.

Now to spend some time with my audition song for tomorrow night (Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), do laundry, fix something for lunch, put some dinner on the table...

Put down that drink...

... and swallow what's in your mouth before opening this link. Kudos to Sears for taking a silly idea and running with it. Happy Halloween, all!

"Mom moment"

The Chief was out mowing the weeds today while I was doing some photo organizing for insurance purposes. Suddenly I hear him tap-tap-tapping on the front door - there was a hummingbird in the impatiens bed! I grabbed my camera and started clicking away. I'd need a much better camera with a very fast shutter to keep up with that little hummer, but I did get one or two pics that weren't too bad.

This one was a different breed than the ones we've seen at the cabin - smaller, with a long beak or proboscis or whatever, and mostly browns. At least, that's what color the blur was. (I ended up deleting nearly half the pictures because they were too blurry to see anything but smears of color.) Given its size, color and shape, the little bird looked more like a large hornet or something similar.

It kept zipping from one flower to another, concentrating on the pink ones. It considered & rejected one of the purple ones and seemed to ignore the red ones entirely. It also zipped away several times, stopping briefly to check out the Chief's trouser leg, the can of WD40, or the reel of bright-orange extension cord (it's an electric mower) before returning to the pink impatiens. I wonder if it'll tell the rest of the family about the buffet...

Mom loved hummingbirds, always had at least one or two feeders stocked. I wish I could call her up & tell her about our little visitor. I've been planting impatiens in that bed for 10 years at least and this is the first time we've ever seen a hummingbird anywhere near them. I hope they make this a regular haunt.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I think it went OK

First audition of the weekend tonight. The accompanist and I had some tempo differences, and I forgot to warn her about a ritard near the middle, but it felt pretty good. I may have gotten a little too dance-y at one pint at the expense of my sound, but I don't think I did badly. The acoustics in the room weren't great - another cavern in cinderblock & terrazzo tile - which made it hard to tell.

This was the first night of auditions; the 2nd is Sunday, with callbacks Thursday night. Only 2 roles for mezzos, and I have no idea how many of us will be trying for those roles. I'm not confident that I'll get one, but if I make callbacks, I'll be very chuffed indeed.

It was also nice to chat with friends from the company, some of whom I hadn't seen since Grand Duke back in March. I'd've stayed longer, but I hadn't had much dinner so I was getting hungry.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's true - you do block out painful memories

How else can you account for the fact that every year, despite previous experience, I'm always a bit surprised that my upper arm hurts after my flu shot. :p

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Great Scot!

A handful of us from my choir sang a lovely wedding yesterday. The groom's family was proud of their Scots heritage - the men were all beautifully turned out in kilts, and the groom & his father both had their own dress gillies (ghillies?). They had a piper in full dress pipe the bride down the aisle. The piper then stood at attention throughout the wedding, moving only when the groom's sister needed to stand near that spot to sing the Schubert "Ave Maria" after communion. After the vows, the b&g lit a unity candle, then came to the center of the altar so his parents could pin a tartan sash on her. What a lovely "welcome to the family" gesture! At the end, instead of the usual recessional, the piper piped the b&g down the aisle and out of the church. Said church has a fairly high ceiling, marble columns and altar, and terrazzo-tile floors, so the acoustics were very friendly to those pipes - the piper was quite good, so it sounded great in that church!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm ready - lemme at that audition panel!

Had a good voice lesson this afternoon, felt like I really rocked my audition piece. I had yet to hit the very last note satisfactorily, but we got that fixed. NA has me focused and on the right track for my "dramatic intent" when I sing, the Gs were free & easy - pity that Offenbach audition isn't until next Friday, 'cause I feel ready to nail that audition.

We also spent a little time on the piece I sang for my Pirates audition, as a sort of Plan B, e.g., if my allergies decide to act up so that the Gs become problematic. That went well, too; nailed it on only the 2nd or 3rd time through. NA was very complimentary, too; told me I have a "mammoth" voice, an operatic heft.

There are 2 other shows auditioning next weekend that I'm seriously considering trying for. I can't see me having time to work up a "classical monologue" for Romeo & Juliet; it'll have to be cold readings from whatever sides they have on hand. I'm not terribly optimistic about that one because there are only 3 roles for older women and there'll probably be a lot of competition for them, but I do want to start auditioning for that company and eventually do a show or few with them.

And I don't know what to sing if I decide to audition for Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I got a copy of the soundtrack and decided the music sounds like it would be a lot of fun to sing. I'd have to choose carefully - I have to sound like I'm auditioning for the Grand Ol' Opry, not grand opera. I've never attempted singing country, just Broadway, so I may audition just to stretch myself a bit.

Of the 3 shows, I figure I've got the best chance at getting cast in the Offenbach, and after today's lesson, I might even have a shot at something more than chorus, depending, of course, on who else auditions, what the directors are looking for and so on. R&J is the longest shot - I'm assuming there'll be a lot of women auditioning for those 3 roles, most of whom will have a lot more experience doing classical plays than I do. Whether I get offered anything in Whorehouse will depend on whether I can sound non-operatic; given how hard I've been working to achieve that sound, it'll be a different kind of challenge to keep it in check.

Wish me luck!

Since they can't bake...

Found this link on someone's LJ. I never knew would have guessed big cats like squash, but these are having an awful lot of fun playing with their food:

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The Chief surprised me with a Kindle DX for my birthday. Really surprised me; I know I told him a while ago, when he asked, that I wasn't particularly interested in one. However. Now that I've got the thing, I've already downloaded a few free books. I'll give it a try; he really wants me to love the thing, and he's been dying to give it to me ever since it came in a week or so ago. And the thought of being able to carry thousands of books in a single device is certainly appealing. (Can I organize by categories or genres or something? I'll have to find out.)

My big question is: do I keep the DX, which has about a 9"-diagonal screen, or go with the smaller (6" diagonal) 3G WiFi, which weighs a little less than half what the DX does? I think I'm probably willing to give up the larger "page" in favor of greater portability. I might be a bit more inclined to carry it around if it's smaller and lighter, and really, that's what it's all about. Why have it if I'm not comfortable using it?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lovely wedding

The Chief & I went to a wedding yesterday at a local conference center belonging to the USPS, of all things, that apparently started life as a convent. (The dinner was in the Stained Glass Hall, formerly a chapel.) The grounds were surprisingly extensive and beautifully maintained; the landscaping wasn't extravagant, but very nicely done. Little wonder, then, that the ceremony was outside on the gently sloping lawn. The breeze was favorable, carrying the trio's music over the wedding party and guests. (Oboe, flute & cello - 3 strings wouldn't have carried as well.) I wish I'd been able to tell the musicians how much I enjoyed the music - they sounded very good together and played very well.

The weather was absolutely perfect, too - very warm for October, with sunny skies and just enough clouds to be ornamental. Thus none of us minded when we were directed to a charming little courtyard for drinks and hors d'oeuvres after the ceremony. It was nice & shady, with lovely gardens (I should've taken notes on the shade plants they used) and a tiny little fountain.

For dinner we repaired to the Stained Glass Hall, where a band entertained us with standards (I knew all of them - I love that stuff!) until we'd finished eating. Then the band switched from American Songbook to American Bandstand, playing a variety of lively things - Beatles, country, B-52s et al. - with a few ballads mixed in for slow dancing. The Chief claims to have 2 left feet - he's certainly not one to dance if he can avoid it - but he did get me up for one slow dance.

The flowers were beautiful - burgundy, deep oranges and pinks with a few lighter colors to set them off. I don't usually care for "fall colors" - I'm not an orange person - but these were elegantly done. The bride's hair was smoothed back into a classically elegant bun with deep red flowers around it, which looked gorgeous against her dark hair.

The bride is an enthusiastic person anyway, so it was fun watching her throughout. During the actual vows, she started to get misty-eyed and had to borrow the groom's hanky. The second time that happened, she just pulled it back out of his pocket herself, dabbed at her eyes, and replaced it, which was good for a chuckle from the guests. She was obviously thrilled with the whole thing - loved the band, loved dancing, loved answering questions about their plans. If that girl had been any higher with excitement, we'd have been pulling her down from the VERY high ceiling! :D I can't help but wonder how she'll be when they decide to start a family and she learns she's pregnant.

Like the first day of school

So I've finished my 2-year stint downtown and return to the "mothership" (as one of my erstwhile colleagues joked) tomorrow, starting in a new office. I know there's at least one person there I've met before (we were in the same office over 20 yrs ago!) and there may be others, but until tomorrow I won't know for sure. I've done this changing offices thing repeatedly over a 30-year career, so there's just the faintest touch of the "will they like me? will I be able to open my locker?" nerves.

Mostly I'm looking forward to the new challenges. The learning curve will be straight up initially because I'll have so many different things to get read up on, but that variety will keep me happy and engaged far longer than if this office worked only one or two things. They also get a lot of new people rotating through on assorted in-house "apprenticeship" programs, so I'll get to do a bit of mentoring, as well as learning from them and enjoying their energy and enthusiasm.

Tomorrow will probably be devoted to things like finding where my desk is, whether there's an office coffee mess or snack fund, how big the office fridge is, getting something with everyone's names so I can start learning who's who, and taking care of such administrivia as making sure Payroll and HR have my new info. With luck, I'll even get a little actual work done, if only to get added to their database so I can start reading up on their projects.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

"Up on the roof"

We've had a problem with leaks in the front of the living room and the Chief has been up on the roof a dozen times or more, applying a roofing tape that's supposed to seal leaks. He's made a lot of progress - we're down to one bucket when it rains, from a high of four - but we still need to find a roofer who'll return phone calls and is willing to do a patch, not a full replacement.

Today found the Chief up on the back part of the roof. It's nearly flat, so we have a rubber/composite surface there rather than shingles. He was painting it with a sealant that also fills any pinholes that might have developed. The stuff has aluminum in it, so it's very silvery and shiny - keeps that part of the house cooler in the summer. It also looked kinda funky splattered on the Chief's face; the Silver Shadow? Silver Fox?

Chugging along

Another hard-work voice lesson yesterday. With my Pirates audition behind me, I've resumed work on Offenbach's Hymn to Bacchus (Orphee aux Enfers), which I'm working up to use as an audition piece. I chose it because I plan to audition for a production of a different Offenbach, La Belle Helene, but also to broaden my repertoire a little and to challenge myself, because has a broader range - 2 full octaves - than anything else I've auditioned with.

This piece has a couple of phrases near the end that start on the G above the staff and descend from there. That G has been something of a challenge for me, as my throat keeps trying to tighten up when I get to the F at the top of the staff. Warming up to a Bb or a C hasn't been as successful as I'd hoped, but yesterday NA gave me a couple of exercises that will help. Better, we were woodshedding the "dramatic intent" of the piece and I was concentrating hard enough on that that the G finally came freely. Took some doing, but the last couple of times I got through the song, that G actually felt pretty good.

La Belle Helene
auditions are still 2 weeks away. If I can discipline myself to practice most days, if not every day, and try the exercises NA gave me, I should be able to go into that audition and surprise the MD (for whom I've auditioned for any number of productions over the past 6 or 7 years at least) with how much more I can do and how much better I'm singing these days. That, at least, is my hope. Now to get to work...

Monday, October 04, 2010

What a great guy!

I'm wrapping up my last week in this office. Toted 3 boxes of stuff to the mailroom to be shipped to my next office (different building). have been purging files & such for the past couple of weeks. My beloved husband volunteered to drop me at the train at 6 o'clock this rainy Monday morning, then drove downtown in rush-hour traffic to pick me up, as I was bringing two big totes full of personal stuff off my desk. (There's a limit to how many boxes I could take to the mail room; I think it's an anti-packrat mechanism.)

Just to emphasize - he volunteered to pick me and my stuff up from work, driving downtown at the height of rush hour, so I wouldn't have to schlep my "luggage" on a crowded train. Not only that, but he volunteered to get up much earlier than necessary to take me to the train so I wouldn't have to retrieve my car from the lot after work.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - he's definitely a keeper!

"A weekend in the country"

The Chief and I spent the weekend at a festival out in the hills - mild temps, sunny & gorgeous! Perfect day to inhale the aromas of apple butter, funnel cakes, brats and other "fair food" while browsing a few vendors, checking out the local history museum, and buying my usual apple butter & baking pumpkin. Added a twist this year, though; I let the pumpkin vendor talk me into buying a couple of butternut squash too. One will be for a soup experiment, the other will be for pie - she and her mother both swore they make better pumpkin pie than pumpkins do.

We spent Thursday night at the cabin on our way out. Friday morning was the kind that makes us SO glad we have the place: just a touch of chill in the air, sun streaming through the leaves which are just beginning to turn, birds flitting about - the kind of day that must have inspired the psalmist to write "This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it!" Glorious!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blank canvas

Our friend DB bought his first house back in April and as a house-warming present, I promised to plant a batch of spring bulbs for him. It's getting to be time to put them in, so now I'm pondering whether to get one color of crocus or several, where to put some tulips, what kinds of daffodils & narcissus to get, and how many of each I can afford. I also want to dig up some of the daylilies we've got too many of and set them aside for him. Sometime soon, I'll load up the bulbs, some compost and the tiller and go get his yard ready to be gorgeous come spring.

And come spring, if i get around to dividing my toad lily, I may take one or two over there to add to the garden. That way, he'll have some color starting to bloom around the time everything else is dying out for the year.

Toad lilies!

The single toad lily I planted last fall has thrived in its rather crowded little corner of this bed - notice how the impatiens are surrounding it. I'd never heard of toad lilies before the nurseryman out at the cabin gave me one when I bought a trunkload of other things from him last September. Now I'm a fan. The incredibly harsh winter and equally harsh summer didn't kill it off - look at those first blooms, which just opened today, after we got the first measurable rain in about a month last night. Those 2 tall green spires are loaded with buds at nearly every pair of leaves - can't wait until those open!

Looks like I'll need to divide this baby come spring. If I do and find more than just 2 or 3 bulbs or whatever, I'll probably take one over to DB's house and add it to his garden.

No Ruth this time

When I hadn't gotten The Call by about 8:30 last night, I pretty much knew I hadn't been cast, on the premise that all the "yes" calls would have been made first. Not a big surprise; when I arrived for callbacks, I heard someone else auditioning for Ruth and I realized I had some very stiff competition for the role. When she came out and I saw it was the woman who'd had the biggest female lead in Follies last year, well, no shame in losing a role to someone like that.

What was nice, though, was the way the artistic director told me he was "thrilled" with how well I'd sung. We chatted briefly about my voice teacher, then he mentioned the company is thinking of doing a concert version of The Gondoliers "this winter" and he'd like me to "be involved". Even if that never happens, for whatever reason, it's nice to hear someone trying to line me up for a future project - good for my ego. ;-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I think that went well.

When I went for my callback this afternoon, they were auditioning another Ruth. She sounded pretty good, too. When she came out, I realized it was the woman who'd had the biggest of the women's roles in the Follies I teched last year - some serious competition!

When I went in for my turn, they just had my sing the first 2 verses of When Frederic was a Little Lad, as the director hadn't been there Wednesday night to hear me sing. Today's panel consisted of the MD, director and costumer. Not sure why she was there, but she's a nice lady, and smiled throughout as if she hadn't heard the song before and was enjoying it. When I finished, the MD asked if I'd been taking lessons, as my last 2 auditions for the company were the best he'd heard from me, that my voice was perfectly "in line". Not sure exactly what he meant by that, but he obviously meant it as a compliment.

They had the other Ruth read, as well as the Frederic who went in ahead of me and who was at auditions the same night I was, so I was a little surprised that they didn't have me read. When the phone call comes (or doesn't come), I'll find out whether that was a good or a bad sign.

Friday, September 24, 2010

You'd never guess...

... to look at these thriving impatiens that back in mid-August, they were at death's door from a combination of 2 months without rain and 3 weeks of highs in the uppper 90s or low 100s.

Glad that's over!

The Chief had his finger "surgery" this afternoon; "surgery" in quotes because the actual procedure took a grand total of about 5 minutes. The Chief said the prep took longer. When they called me in the Family Waiting Area, the nurse asked if I was the person with the bag of clothes. When I said "yes", she said they needed me in the patient recovery area and I could hear the Chief laughing in the background. When I got there, he was sipping ginger ale and holding his bandaged hand up. I had to help him get dressed, which was a bit of a challenge because he was ticklish and had trouble holding still. At least I didn't have to feed him dinner, as he managed left-handed eating pretty well.

So far, his finger is still numb from the anesthesia; he's a bit nervous about how much it's going to hurt once the anesthesia wears off. The doc gave him 2 pain prescriptions, though, so we're prepared.

I'm just glad it's over and relieved that, at least so far, it seems to have been a completely routine procedure. I knew my worries were unrealistic, but glad to have that confirmed.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New music friends

Our parish is having its annual patron saint festival this Sunday. The festivities include a single 10:30 mass instead of the usual 9:30 and 11:30 masses, so our group and a few folks from the 11:30 choir will be singing. (The group that covers the 4:30 vigil mass is still doing that mass so they won't be joining us.) Tonight we had a joint choir practice to go over all the music for Sunday. We did so in greater detail than usual because the 11:30 group has 3 new key people: Their director cum organist retired this summer, so they now have a young couple as co-directors and another gentleman as the accompanist.

J is quite an accomplished pianist based on what he played tonight; once he figured out our tempos, he played as if he could do it in his sleep. Maybe he could; our usual accompanist, no slouch herself, was quoted as joking she didn't want to play anywhere near him as she felt he was so much better. E&M seem to be quite capable musicians themselves; both have nice voices (soprano & tenor), and he conducted us through an a capella piece they chose for communion. A few of us stayed after everything was put away and chatted with them for a bit; I think they (and their adorable tow-headed, chubby baby) and J will be a wonderful addition to the parish's music ministry.

A successful audition so far

Last night I went and auditioned for Pirates, along with a couple dozen college students and 2 or 3 other folks over 30. One of them played Ko-Ko when I was Pitti-Sing several years ago; he looks a good bit younger than I am, but he was talking about how old he felt, looking at the other guys auditioning. I looked around and had to admit, most of the guys didn't look old enough to drive; there were at least two that I had a hard time believing were old enough to be in college. DB felt they looked about 10. :D

We auditioned in a cavernous church social hall built with cinderblock walls and a tile floor. Not fun to dance on - my feet are complaining today - nor a singer's favorite acoustics; you couldn't hear yourself at all, which made it very difficult to tell how you were doing. However, I must have done well enough, as I'm called back for Ruth, piratical maid of all work and nursemaid to Frederic! Callbacks are Sunday, which gives me a bit of time to refresh my memory of the part. One theater friend has said that she considers a callback a "win", as it means they saw something there they liked. At callbacks you can lose the part because they want someone thinner, fatter, darker, fairer, or who doesn't tower over the 4'11" Pirate King - things you can't control. But they liked you enough to want to see more - a good thing!

I've already told my current and 2 previous voice teachers, a few friends from my last Pirates and a few others I knew would be happy for me. I'm looking forward to Sunday and a chance to do more singing and clowning around in the G&S style. I've got my fingers crossed that the fact I know the show cold will count in my favor, given that it opens just 4 weeks from Saturday!

A bit nervous about tomorrow

The Chief has had a problem with one finger not extending fully, which the doc told him was trigger finger. He's tried several things to relieve it, without success, so tomorrow the doctor is going for the last resort - surgery. It's done on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia, so the Chief will be awake to respond appropriately when the doc asks him to wiggle his finger this way and that to see if they've corrected the problem. Once the doctor is satisfied, he'll stitch up the finger, give the Chief a painkiller prescription and let me chauffeur him home.

The Chief isn't worried about the procedure, but is a bit concerned about post-op pain and what it'll take to keep it at bay. I, on the other hand, find myself unduly nervous about the surgery itself; I find myself dreading that something awful will happen and he'll lost the use of that finger or even the hand! The doctor was matter-of-fact about it, as if this is as routine as a tonsillectomy, but the thought anyone cutting into the Chief's hand and tinkering with how his fingers work... =:o Pray for his healing and my peace of mind!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How to Be a Good Theatergoer

Those community theaters with sufficient space - heck, professional theaters! - might want to consider posting these prominently. I've certainly sat near many an audience member who could stand to be told of theater-going etiquette. In my experience, it's been the adults, not children, who were worst about talking during performances. Maybe I should start taking copies of this list with me when I go to see a show...

How to Be a Good Theatergoer

TheaterMania offers 10 handy tips to make the most of your theatergoing experience!

By: Brian Scott Lipton · Sep 3, 2010 · New York

Going to the theater may be one of the best experiences you will ever have in your life. But in order to make sure it's as enjoyable as possible -- for both you and your fellow audience members -- TheaterMania has culled 10 handy tips on everything from buying tickets to getting to your seat in time.

1) If you're going to buy your tickets directly at the box office, please be organized and considerate of others. Bring with you a list of all dates and times that work for you (and your guests) and ask the box office which of them has the best seats. The person behind the window will guide you to the best possible options; that's his or her job! If what you are offered isn't satisfactory, move away from the window and don't get back on line until you have a new plan in mind.

2) If you are at the box office or are ordering tickets on the phone and have a discount offer, present it or mention it immediately -- before asking for your seats. While almost all discounts are for "best available seats," please read the restrictions; some dates and/or seats may not be available under the terms of the agreement and the ticket agent does not necessarily have the discretion to make exceptions. And under all circumstances, please be kind to the box office people!

3) If you arrive at the theater or discover beforehand that you can't find your tickets, go to the box office; they will be happy to assist you. If you've purchased the ticket by credit card, a voucher for your seats can be arranged fairly quickly.

4) Make sure you know what time the show starts. While 8pm on evenings, 2pm on Saturdays, and 3pm on Sundays are standard "start times," your show's curtain time may vary. Not only is being late disruptive to other patrons, but certain shows do not seat latecomers under any circumstances! (Plus, who wants to miss a musical's opening number?!)

5) Give yourself a sufficient amount of time to get comfortably seated, go to the bathroom, or buy a drink or snack. In most cases, arriving at the theater 15 or 20 minutes in advance should be fine -- especially since most theaters don't open their doors until then. And since you have a preassigned seat, there's no real reason to be early and have to wait in line in the sweltering heat or freezing cold. And remember: it may be easier to use the bathroom in your hotel or at the restaurant where you're dining right before the show than waiting until 7:45 and dealing with long lines at the theater!

6) If you are bringing children with you, gently remind them they are in a public place and need to behave appropriately. For example, they need to sit still -- kicking the person sitting in front of you is simply not allowed -- and talking of any sort (even a whisper) is not acceptable.

7) Turn off your cell phones before the show starts; don't text or use your blackberry during the show; and make sure everything you turned on is back off after intermission. These aren't just suggestions; these are rules -- and in some case, city laws!

8) Do everything you can to make sure your fellow theatergoers can also enjoy the show. Remove your hat. Keep your coat to yourself. Unwrap those candy wrappers in advance. Don't talk during the show. It's not always easy -- we know that. Do it anyway!

9) If you see a celebrity in or outside the theater, please be respectful. Most celebrities are happy to meet and talk with their fans -- or even sign an autograph -- in the appropriate circumstance. Don't interrupt their conversation. Don't start screaming. And don't take their picture in the theater (since any sort of picture-taking is not allowed)!

10) When the show is over, do try to leave the theater quickly. Patrons sitting on or near the aisle need to make an extra effort to get up as soon as they can, so those sitting in the middle of the row can exit promptly. If you want to meet cast members afterwards, gather in an orderly fashion at the "stage door" where most actors exit and are happy to shake hands or sign autographs. It can be the perfect end to a perfect evening.

Definitely auditioning

What tipped the scales was learning that this week's choir practice is moved from Wednesday to Thursday; that means I can audition Wednesday instead of tomorrow. I need those extra couple of days as it gives me 2 days to practice, and a voice lesson before the audition, which is always a good thing. I haven't practiced a lick with Dad here, as anything more than half voice or higher than about a Bb in the middle of the staff wreaks havoc with his hearing aids. Turning 'em off doesn't help much; I can sing a bit louder, but still not full voice or pushing my upper range.

The later audition date also gives us time to run out & buy a new color cartridge for the printer so I can print a copy of my resume to take to auditions.

Getting to fall allergy season, but my voice felt good in church today (except across the lower passaggio, which is still difficult).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dad's in town

Dad's OCS class was having a reunion in Williamsburg this week, so he decided to build a visit to daughter and SIL around it. He got in Sunday evening and we stopped for (VERY good!) crabcakes & other seafood for dinner on the way home from the airport. We were pretty busy once we got home, since we hadn't unpacked from our "surprise party" trip; this meant unpacking from an overnight, repacking in a larger suitcase for a few days in Williamsburg that would include a coat-and-tie dinner, and getting ready for work the next day.

The Chief, with Dad riding shotgun, picked me up at work on Monday and we all headed off to W'burg. Beautiful day, and because I adjusted my schedule so I could leave at 2, we avoided most of the traffic. The Chief & I spent a few hours at Jamestown Settlement (their new museum is very well designed - nicely laid out, good organization, so you can immerse or browse according to your mood) on Tuesday but walking around in the heat & sun wore us out so much that we ended up eating take-out in our room. Wednesday we took Dad to "historic Yorktown", which turned out to be little more than a bunch of shops. Because Dad's knee was limiting his walking, we skipped the Waterman's museum, but there was a tall ship docked there that you could explore for free, which the Chief & I enjoyed. Wednesday night was the dinner, with a Col. Shaymes (sp?), one of the last surviving Band of Brothers, as the guest speaker. I sat next to him at dinner and he was a gracious dinner companion. When he learned that one of his fellow survivors now lives in Dad's town, he took Dad's contact information to pass on. Today we headed home and made good time - 2 pit stops and a grocery stop added only an hour to our travel time.

I spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen - making my usual "vat o' salad" for lunches, mixing up some salmon spread for snacks (it would have been lunch, but we had to wait for the lemon juice to thaw), and heating some spaghetti for lunch. Laundry took us to dinner time; a nice, simple chicken dinner was a welcome change after the rich food of the past few days.

Tomorrow, the Chief plans to take him to the local fishmarkets for oysters on the half shell and to pick something for dinner tomorrow night, though the Chief wasn't sure what else they were going to do to fill the day while I'm at work. Saturday we hope to take Dad to the Eastern Shore for more seafood, perhaps a ferry ride, and definitely some time looking at water, boats, etc. No plans for Sunday yet, but we may go out for brunch.

"Running hither, running thither, runing running who know whither..."

The past coupla weeks have been a bit crazed. We spent Labor Day weekend at the cabin and had absolutely glorious weather for that Saturday's cook-out. We got home to a phone call from the daughter of one of the Chief's college friends - the daughter & her 2 sisters were planning a surprise 40th-anniversary party for their parents on Sept. 11th and could we make it? Our "absolutely!" meant a 2nd busy weekend - voice lesson after work on Friday, then home about 1/2 hour before the Chief & I were off to usher a semi-staged concert version of Sousa's El Capitan. (The March King was aptly named - an awful lot of his operetta music seemed to be trying to become a march.) Saturday we hit the road for the 2-hour drive to our friends' party, then home Sunday all of an hour before we had to leave for the airport to meet Dad's plane. Which put us on the "visiting parent" schedule. Tune in to my next post if you want details...

To audition or not to audition?

The biggest local company that does G&S just announced that they're holding auditions next week for an October production of The Pirates of Penzance. I'm tempted to try out for Ruth again, given the progress I feel I've made with my voice lessons. It would be fun to play her again, especially as I'd be doing it on a real stage with a pit orchestra. And because this company works on a higher level than the one I did Pirates with last time, it would be quite a coup. Problem is, I don't have much time between now and the auditions, and I can't really practice at full voice with Dad around - singing at that range would play havoc with his hearing aids. I'll have to bounce this idea off a few people (the Chief, my voice teacher, a coupla theater friends), sleep on it a night or two.

Monday, September 06, 2010

I'm in the crossword today!

Well, sorta. Today's Codebreaker crossword ( includes "intermezzo" as one of the words.

I like the Codebreaker crossword. No clues, but it always uses all 26 letters of the alphabet. Doing it online means that if I fill in, say, an A, the software fills in all the A's so I can see where they are and use that to figure out the remaining words. I can't always solve it, but I always enjoy trying.

More Hungarian

Another local company is doing Chicago this fall and a theater friend just learned she was cast as Katalin Hunyak, one of the women on murderers' row. We're already talking about when I can help her with the Hungarian lines. One more item for the Miscellaneous section of my theater resume. ;-)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

It's already starting

I replaced my cellphone 2 years ago come late October and of course Verizon made me sign a new 2-year contract. Now that said contract is getting into its final days, Verizon has started calling the house (the Chief tells me) and sending me mail, trying to get me to get my new free phone with them under their "new every 2" program. Free, that is, except for that little detail about having to sign another 2-year contract. Meanwhile, the Chief is shopping around to see if anyone else can give us a better deal and wants me to ask Verizon if they offer a military discount.

Here's hoping we don't have to do that again for a LONG time

Our dishwasher died a couple of weeks ago. Upon learning that it needed a new motherboard and that said part would cost $500 (that's after crediting the cost of the service call against the price!), the Chief & I realized we were going to have to go appliance shopping. Ugh. However, after too many hours spent in big boxes with concrete floors & fluorescent lighting, we finally found something we can live with, and which cost more than the replacement part would have only because we bought the extended warranty (5 years on parts & labor).

Here's hoping this one lasts a good long time so we don't have to go through that again anytime soon!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are you scarred for life?

A friend recently solicited stories of scars in her blog. Let's see if I can get some responses to a similar query - tell a tale of your favorite scar or scars. I'll start:

I've got several tiny scars (lotsa moles removed at various times) but the one with the best story is the "seam" from the side of my nose past the corner of my mouth (with a few "extra" fillips around the lips) down to my jawline, where my friend's brother's dog bit me in the face. When the plastic surgeon finished sewing, my face was so full of black sutures that I looked like the bride of Frankenstein, especially a few days later, when the bruises started turning that lovely greenish-yellow color they get when they fade.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A woman of many parts

Soon to include "Hungarian pronunciation coach". A local theater company is doing Chicago and a friend volunteered me (with permission) to help them with the Hungarian dialogue. Not that I speak Hungarian, mind you, but when I was with a Hungarian folk dance troupe, we had to sing in Hungarian while we danced. That meant lots and lots of pronunciation drills led by the group leaders, who did speak Hungarian.

One more oddball credit for my theater resume, along with having sewn a 25-foot muslin cyclorama and coached members of a Patience cast in the playing of finger cymbals. Come to think of it, I've contributed finger cymbals to two Patience productions, along with a tambourine or two. You just never know when it'll prove handy to have a bellydancer in your cast. ;-)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Working weekend

The Chief & I spent the day cleaning and trying to put things away. Added a few more things to the give-away pile, the recycling bucket is full already (recycling day was just yesterday), and the dust is receding, slowly but surely. I was able to get all the linen & cotton napkins into a single plastic bin (with itemized list of contents so we don't have to empty the thing to figure out what's in there), which went into the rebuilt closet. This made enough room in the bottom of the china cabinet to stash the 12 Limoges dinner plates & 12 coordinating bread-and-butter plates Dad gave us when he moved to the smaller apartment. At this rate, we'll be able to see the top of the dining room table by tomorrow night, or Monday at the latest.

Tomorrow we're taking 2 of the Chief's orientals to be appraised before donating them to one of his favorite charities as auction items. We may also do a bit of dishwasher shopping, since ours died on Thursday. The repairman diagnosed the problem today as a bad mother board, but won't know how much it'll cost until he can check the price on Monday. Won't be cheap - the repairman thought it could run $250-$300 - but if it's less than half the price of a new one, we'll fix the one we've got.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Maybe now we can start relearning the service music...

A friend posted a link in his FB status to this article. For those of you who aren't Catholic, or who are but aren't language geeks, the Catholic church has been preparing a new English translation that adheres more closely to the Latin in the Missale Romanum (Roman missal).

This has been hanging over the heads of everyone involved in the liturgy, including church musicians, who can't order new copies of current hymnals because the service text is going to change, yet haven't been able to get new versions because the publishers and composers couldn't print any until a new translation is authorized.

The lumps get silly.

This only runs 3 times a week, and here I am posting 2 of them:

I'm a what?!?

My current and previous 2 teachers have all gone through the same exercise - trying to figure out where my voice sits so they know what music to have me work on. Soprano? Mezzo with an extension? My last 2 teachers finally settled on mezzo, but NA has decided differently. Last week she told me she thinks I've got a lyric soprano inside me trying to break free, that If I've previously been "diagnosed" a mezzo, it's because I was "under-energized" and not supporting properly and therefore not singing to my full capability.

Perhaps to start to stretch my vocal envelope, as it were, she helped me pick a new audition piece: Offenbach's Hymn to Bacchus, from Orphee aux Enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld). It's quite range-y - goes down to an A below middle C and up to the A below high C, a full 2 octaves. The lower A is no problem, but that upper one? I'm gonna hafta work to get into training for that one, but my teacher seems to think that if I get on track with "focused practice", I'll be fine. Sure hope so; I anticipate needing it sometime in October or November.

Good day at work

This morning I finished up a week-long class at work (how to get a coupla new apps to do their very neat tricks) and didn't just pass the final, I aced it - 100%!

Better, my HR rep is now working on the electronwork to lock in my next assignment. It's a good one that I hadn't even known was out there, and a colleague who knows a few folks who work in that office told me they all love it there.

This bookends a work week that started out on a high note: I got in Monday morning to find an auto-message from HR that I'd been given a cash award, and not a small one! Good timing, as we just got the bill for all those funerals we've been traveling to lately.

"And now that you've departed, you leave us broken-hearted."

Feeling a bit maudlin tonight. The Chief & I went to a seminar last night by an attorney whose firm specializes in estate planning. With 3 funerals already this year, that's been on our minds anyway, so when he heard the ad for the seminar, he signed us up. Surprisingly, it was actually quite interesting. We've now got an appointment for the free consultation offered to seminar attendees (the legal equivalent of a loss leader; they're hoping we'll hire them to do the planning work for us) and have started assembling our information, such as the wills we drew up before the Chief's post-9/11 deployment. I e-mailed the appropriate people about making donations to a scholarship at my high school named for my late, lamented French teacher (one of the best teachers I've ever had in any subject) and one at my mom's alma mater which she & Dad established in the name of my late daughter.

Which has me thinking about my biggest losses to date. The Chief tries to make it happy - "your mom's finally getting to meet her granddaughter" - but in a way that makes it worse. I know Mom's death hasn't really, truly registered with me yet, and I don't expect it to until we go out to my family's for Christmas and Mom's not there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Putting things back or culling the herd

As the Chief has been cleaning up the construction mess, he's also been rearranging things. The books, of course, are getting rearranged because we have those spiffy new built-ins. We've given away 2 of the old, freestanding bookshelves but kept a 3rd. We also had a "double-wide" bookshelf which is now in the guest room, along with the guest bed, 2 nightstands, and wardrobe. We've got someone coming this weekend to take the old desk my computer sat on; now to wipe said computer's hard drive and haul it off for recycling.

We've got big plans for the "library" once the desk is outta there. The Chief moved the kitchen table in there the other day and replaced it with a drop-leaf table from the basement. That way I can leave a sewing project out while I work on it without affecting the kitchen table.

Once the desk and old computer are gone, I can finally set up my keyboard again and hang a mirror nearby so I have a practice area. I've already got my music shelved for easy access (except for the stack of loose stuff I still need to organize), so eventually the library will also function as a studio. The Chief already has his workbench and tools, so I suppose it's my turn now. ;-)

Now to dust and shelve (or cull) a few more books...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

"I'm getting closer to my goal"

The built-in bookshelves are just about full, mostly with paperbacks but also with music (scores, collections, hymnals...) and oversize books. The Chief spent much of the day dusting books and shelving them. Not in alphabetical order, unfortunately, though he did try to keep a given author's books together. Quite an impressive array; I'll have to get pictures once the dusting and shelving are finished.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Acutely aware of our mortality right now

We've had a heckuva year:
  • The Chief's mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer in January and put on home hospice care.
  • My mom died very suddenly of cancer in February.
  • Her older brother, who's been fighting cancer for several years, was put on hospice care at the end of April.
  • The Chief's cousin learned in May that her cancer was back again.
  • I just flew out to KY last week for the funeral of KL's partner (might as well have been her husband). He was only 42 years old, so his family & friends will be reeling from the shock for quite awhile.
  • And we got the call about my uncle earlier this evening. God finally answered his prayers and called him Home. KY funeral last week, MO funeral this week. The Chief is debating whether to go with me or stay put, in case he needs to travel to his mom's funeral. We were just up there last weekend for a visit; my MIL looked pale but seemed otherwise strong, though that doesn't necessarily mean much.
And various friends have been facing all kinds of challenges, not fatal but still demoralizing - unemployment, health problems, financial straits, kid worries and so on. I generally have a pretty positive outlook on life, but lately it's been rather a challenge to look on the bright side. It all makes the joy of C&D's wedding seems like ages ago, not a mere month.

The remodel is DONE!!!

The Chief started demolition in the front bathroom in mid/late December, the first workmen walked through the door the first week of January, and the last one left Thursday. Hallelujah!!! That's SEVEN months of crews and carpenters, and 7 1/2 months of living in a combination construction zone and storage unit.

The Chief barely shut the door behind the carpenter on Thursday before starting in on the next big project - cleaning up the mess and putting everything away. We'd already done some, of course - we put away most of the bathroom stuff a week or two ago, when the cabinet was finished, and I filled most of the built-in bookshelves a month or more ago. However, now that all the tools and construction supplies are gone or put away, we can start in earnest to dust and wash and vacuum. The curtains in the living room and office went into the wash yesterday; I hope to wash the rest of the lace curtains tomorrow. Tonight the Chief & I reassembled the guest bed frame, though we won't add the mattress & bedding until we finish cleaning in there.

Two reasons for the big push - Dad is coming for a visit in mid-September and, more importantly, we can't wait to have the place looking like a home again, instead of a dusty old attic.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Oh, so close to the END of this remodeling!

The Chief has just about finished painting the back bathroom - nothing left but the fine work around the door jamb and such. Carpenter still has to do the plumbing access hatch for the tub/shower, but the wall cabinet is finished and already half stocked. The towel bars and such are in place, the shower curtain & liner are up - soon as those 2 little things are done, we can CLEAN the bathroom and put the bath rugs back down. For now, the old raggedy curtain is back in place until I get the fabric sewn up for the new curtain. We're already using the bathroom, although some supplies are still in boxes, so we're still a long way away from being able to find things right away.

Dad will be coming for a visit in September; we're looking forward to showing him our nice, new bathrooms and the rebuilt closet and lovely floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in what will be the guest room once we get everything put away and cleaned up.

Great night for a simple dinner!

Crazy work day today - sudden shortening of a deadline (from Thursday to "before you leave this afternoon"), phone call with some news that threw a monkey wrench into the mix, key app being incredibly sluggish, some eval prep dropped into the mix... Perfect night to come home to spaghetti sauce over spinach noodles with a glass of white zinfandel, followed by the last of the farmstand strawberries with a dollop of vanilla yogurt.

This week's schedule is pretty chopped up, which will make it a challenge to stay on top of everything. I've got a few extra hours on the books; if I do this right, I'll be able to take off a bit early on Friday and get a head start on my weekend.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I write like...

The Flibbertigibbet posted a link that offers to analyze a text you give them and decide which author's writing style yours most resembles. I decided to give it a try. My results? I was told I write like David Foster Wallace. Having never heard of him, I submitted another text and was told I write like Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The third text I submitted (all of them blog posts) was judged to resemble Neil Gaiman's writing style.

Of these 3, I've only heard of Douglas Adams. I may have to check out the other 2 the next time I'm at the library.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Some nicely done stop-action work

Found on an LJ:


Sun been down for days
A pretty flower in a vase
A slipper by the fireplace
A cello lying in its case

Soon she's down the stairs
Her morning elegance she wears
The sound of water makes her dream
Awoken by a cloud of steam
She pours a daydream in a cup
A spoon of sugar sweetens up

And She fights for her life
As she puts on her coat
And she fights for her life on the train
She looks at the rain
As it pours
And she fights for her life
As she goes in a store
With a thought she has caught
By a thread
She pays for the bread
And She goes...
Nobody knows

Sun been down for days
A winter melody she plays
The thunder makes her contemplate
She hears a noise behind the gate
Perhaps a letter with a dove
Perhaps a stranger she could love

And She fights for her life
As she puts on her coat
And she fights for her life on the train
She looks at the rain
As it pours
And she fights for her life
As she goes in a store
With a thought she has caught
By a thread
She pays for the bread
And She goes...
Nobody knows

And She fights for her life
As she puts on her coat
And she fights for her life on the train
She looks at the rain
As it pours
And she fights for her life
Where people are pleasently strange
And counting the change
And She goes...
Nobody knows

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Explosive situation?

Fireworks are legal in Missouri and it seemed the Chief and I saw fireworks tents every fraction of a mile from the time we left the St. Louis airport until we were well beyond the city limits. Some of these tents were in lots right next to gas stations. Am I the only one who thinks that's not such a great idea?

"Drowning doesn't look like drowning"

This blogger wants everyone to know that the symptoms of drowning look nothing like what you see on TV or in the movies. With pool/lake/beach season here, please be sure to read this so we can keep each other safe.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket...

The newlyweds graciously dropped me at the airport on their way out of town for their honeymoon, and did so early enough that I was able to get on a flight that arrived 2 1/2 hours earlier than the one I'd originally booked. That earlier flight landed about 10 minutes ahead of schedule, the usual 15-20-minute wait at baggage claim was more like 1 or 2 minutes, my bag was one of the first out of the chute, the parking shuttle was waiting outside when I went out to flag it down, we filled up almost immediately so that we headed for the lot in short order, and I was the 2nd drop. This is the first time I've ever had an arrival go so smoothly!

Now if only I could get the temperature back down into the 90s...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Get me to the church on time

A friend I've known since grade school is getting (re)married this weekend! I'm so looking forward to seeing her parents again, and all 3 of her siblings (now that they're so far-flung, this will be the first time they've all been in the same place at the same time since the last family wedding). Wedding festivities Saturday, 4th of July fun on Sunday, then she & her new hubby will head out to the cabin, which they're using for about a week before continuing east and south to the ocean.

The Chief was back out at the cabin yesterday taking care of last-minute checks - water on, clean sheets & towels, cobwebs chased, instructions, keys, info on things to do, maps... I think he's more excited than I am that they're taking us up on the offer.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Domestic diva to go

A friend of ours finally bought his first house a couple of months ago and has been doing some major repairs in addition to the usual settling-in things. I offered to make him some curtains to help him keep expenses down, so a couple of weeks ago we went shopping for curtain fabric. He found several "candidates" for the kitchen curtains. I explained about swatches, so he piled up the bolts and headed off to the cutting table. To my surprise, the woman wielding the scissors gave him pieces perhaps 3 inches by the full 45-inch width of the bolt! Sure made it easier for him to decide which fabric he wanted in the kitchen, though I did go over there last week (at his request) to tell him my choice from among the 3 "finalists". I told him how much fabric to buy and will probably get them sewn up sometime in the next few weeks, depending on when he gets the fabric.

We had friends join us at the cabin this weekend (temps in the 90s and no a/c - we spent most of the weekend being limp and letting their baby entertain us). When I mentioned I was sewing curtains for DB, or maybe it was the costuming I've helped with, she wondered if I'd be willing to show her how to sew. Then this morning she asked me how to make chicken soup w/ a carcass; picking up on my passing reference to drippings for gravy, she followed up by saying she didn't know how to make gravy from drippings, either. I've since sent her instructions for both gravy and chicken soup, and said that if she buys the supplies for a basic sewing project, I'll help her through it. They live about an hour away so we'll have to make an effort to schedule this, but it should be fun.

Explaining my choice of curtain fabric for DB's kitchen made me feel like something of an expert, and having my girlfriend ask me for help with so many domestic things makes me feel that I actually know some stuff worth knowing. ;)