Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Vintage costume!

The costumers were at Birdie rehearsal last night with lots of stuff for us to try on for size. I was delighted to learn that my "Ed Sullivan dress" (when the Macafees appear on the Sullivan show w/ teen idol Conrad Birdie) is an actual vintage dress! Not colors I'd've chosen, but an elegant print. Even better, it was made for someone essentially my size and shape; all I need to do is restitch a couple of seams. The fun part is that it's got a semi-dirndl skirt (with pleats rather than gathers), so I've got a crinoline, which may well be of the same vintage, to wear under it.

My housedress is nothing special, but I'll have fun making the apron to wear over it. The costumers want me to make it plain white, so I'm hoping they'll let me put a retro applique on one or both pockets to make it more 50s-looking.

Mom moments

The cough with this cold was particularly rough - one of those that scratches all the way down. Triggered the asthma too, enough that the doc ended up giving me a nebulizer treatment and putting me on a short course of (shudder) prednisone. Which made me remember how Mom could always hear in my voice when I was on the stuff. Once I'd been off it for at least a week, but sure enough, when I called, Mom asked if I'd had to take it.

This afternoon I was putting some things away in the kitchen and spotted Mom's big old turkey roaster up on top of the kitchen cabinets. (It's too tall to fit into any of them.) All those years she pulled that thing out for one of the Christmas turkeys, the other being sent off to my uncle for smoking on his grill. When she eventually went to a different pan, I got the old veteran. I haven't used it much, but every time I see it, I think of her. When the Chief & I were there for Christmas the last two years, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with her, prepping dinner, serving it, cleaning up after. When the Chief and I went to leave, Mom said she'd miss her "kitchen buddy". Me too, Mom.

NB: Don't nuke the bear.

Got another cold, which moved from head to chest the other day, so I've been drinking copious quantities of hot tea with honey. (Temporary relief, but that hot honey feels so good going down a raw throat.) When I first pulled the honey down from the cabinet, it had crystalized a bit so I popped the bear-shaped bottle into the microwave for what I thought would be a safe 15 seconds. Poor bear emerged ever so slightly lopsided, and subsequent reheatings only worsened his posture.

When I pointed this out to the Chief, he said "Wouldn't it work just as well to set the bottle in some hot water?" Of course it would, but this was faster. Maybe next time I'll nuke the water, then put the bear into it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Mom moments"

The first of what I'm sure will be many little moments when I find myself wishing I could call Mom and say "guess what?"

Making gravy at the cabin yesterday, I was putting away the baggie of corn starch and realized it was not corn starch at all, but powdered sugar! Didn't ruin the gravy, though of course it didn't thicken as one might have wished. Mom once reached for vanilla while baking and got the liquid smoke instead! She said Dad ate the banana bread (or whatever it was) anyway and said it tasted just fine.

We've got some mystery bulbs coming up in force in the hellebore bed on the north side of the house, the crocuses are coming into their own, and today I noticed one little snowdrop in the front yard, next to a yellow crocus. The daffodils are shooting up and could be blooming in as little as a week if the weather is warm. In a few more weeks I should be able to find impatiens for my annual bed. I wish I could share this with Mom, who loved gardening and gardens, even if she had little time or opportunity for them.

At least it's March, not February

We got a new water heater installed Thursday as part of the bathroom remodel (the old one was at least a coupla years passed its expected lifespan). Unfortunately, the new tank had a defective gas valve, which the plumber said was quite common. We won't have a replacement until tomorrow, so no hot water at the house since Thursday. The Chief & I had been debating whether to go to the cabin this weekend; that settled the question, as we knew we'd have hot water out there.

When we got home this afternoon and went to set the thermostat back up, nothing happened. The blower runs, but heat? None. The Chief tried several things but no luck, so we're having someone come look at it tomorrow. Unfortunately, the anticipated lifespan of a furnace is 15-20 years and ours is nearing 16 years old. I'm crossing my fingers that this will be a repair, not a replace.

If we have to be without heat or hot water, at least it's now, when the low temps are in the 30s and 40s, not a month ago, when the highs were only in the 20s. And we're both grateful that our bedroom has a baseboard heater, so at least one room in the house is warm.

Monday, March 08, 2010

A first I hope will also be a last!

I had a cold all last week. A bit annoying, especially the few days the head congestion was giving me some ear pain, but nothing too worrying. Until Friday, when the cold started to move from my head into my chest. I could still sing Friday night, so I wasn't too worried. Then I woke up Saturday with bad laryngitis; so bad that, despite all the orange juice & hot tea w/ honey, I had to farm out my sung & spoken lines to other people. I still went on, but mouthed all the "singing". This was particularly annoying because my good friend KL had decided, after learning of Mom's death, to come into town on a flying visit and that was the only performance she could get to. So she got to see me on stage, just didn't get to hear me.

Ah well, at least it wasn't yesterday's matinee that she attended. By then I'd developed a fever; only a low-grade one, but enough to give me chills & body aches and, worse, make my knees rubbery enough that I didn't even "suit up" to go on. Fortunately, castmate AG had stood in for me while I was out of town for Mom's funeral, so she changed her costume and took my sung & spoken lines and my place in the quartet choreographies. It was weird to see someone else doing "my" bits, but I thought she did an admirable job, especially with almost no rehearsal. As our Baroness noted, I was the only person in the whole show with an understudy. And how often does that happen, for a comprimario role!

Unfortunately, it was that last performance that the Chief attended, as he'd planned to stay for strike. Instead of watching me on stage, we watched together from the back of the house, and he ended up taking me to the after-hours clinic as soon as I'd collected the various costume bits & pieces I'd loaned out.

This is the first time I've ever missed going on - I earnestly hope it never happens again!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Is it the cancer? Alzheimer's? something else?

The Chief called his mother this afternoon. She's been spending more & more time "living in the past" - last week, she had just learned her mother had died (nearly 30 years after the fact), and told me she couldn't talk long as she had to get ready for school (she retired from teaching 7 or 8 years ago). Today was worse - she asked her own son how his mother was and how the kids were.

We know the cancer is spreading quickly; maybe it's reached something in the brain? Maybe it's Alzheimer's? In any event, it was pretty disconcerting. She'll turn 90 in another couple of weeks and all of us will be in town for the occasion, even her 2 great-grands and the grandchild who lives in California. The Chief and I are hoping she makes it that long. Though she could fool us and the docs and live for quite a while yet.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Doing "Birdie" after all

The director of the Bye Bye Birdie I auditioned for a couple of weeks ago called me earlier this week to ask if I'd like to play Doris Macafee. Since that was one of the 2 roles I'd specifically requested, I said yes. Went to my first rehearsal last night. We have plenty of teen girls, no boys (at least none there last night), and very few adults. Needless to say, the company is advertising for additional chorus members, especially teen boys. I sure hope they get 'em; gotta have at least 3 or 4 boys for "Telephone Hour" and the dance numbers.

Tech week? What tech week?

The Chief and I got home from Mom's funeral Thursday afternoon, giving me all of about 2 1/2 hours to pull together all my theater stuff (make-up, hair curling supplies, shoes, tights, jewelry...) and get to the theater for the preview performance. It was very nerve-wracking: a quick drill for the 4 "garland girls" of the processional bit at the top of Act II, so I missed vocal warm-ups, and of course one of my 2 tiny solo lines is the first solo line in the show. I hadn't laid eyes on the set until about 1/2 hour before downbeat, hadn't tried on my costumes or done my hair & make-up or worked with the props. It didn't help that I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I don't usually get nervous before that first downbeat, but having missed essentially all of tech week, I was a nervous wreck as we waited to go on.

I felt like a flake all weekend, had to really work to concentrate on what I was doing, but at least 2 or 3 people who knew my situation said they never would've guessed there was anything wrong. In fact, at Saturday's cast party the MD thanked me, said "we could use more like you." He noted that I was "up there singing your heart out, smiling, really getting into it." I guess I'm getting good at this acting thing if I can fool people into thinking I knew what I was doing. ;)