Monday, October 31, 2011

Still not clear on the concept

I was getting worried there - we had NO trick-or-treaters for the longest time! We finally got our first bunch around 8:15! On the whole, they've been minding their manners and most had costumes. A few are obviously new at this, though. How can we tell?
  1. They yell "trick or treat!" at the closed door, then knock (probably when mom or dad tells them to).
  2. They get scared and cling to Mom or Dad when you try to give them candy.
  3. They try to walk into the house.
  4. They hold up their bucket or bag with one hand and hold out their other hand for more.
  5. They wish you "Happy Thanksgiving!" (I teased that one, maybe middle-school age, about planning ahead.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Susie Homemaker strikes again

Really went to town in the kitchen this weekend:
  • made a big pot (10 c.) of butternut squash soup, packed it up for the freezer;
  • cut & peeled 7 or 8 apples for some home-made applesauce;
  • cut up a bunch of celery and bagged it for the freezer for future use in soups;
  • baked a batch of oatmeal "granola" bars, this time with raisins (the Chief's preference) instead of the chocolate chips the recipe calls for; and
  • baked a batch of chocolate-pumpkin bars. The combination sounds weird, I know, but the pumpkin makes them so moist and chewy!
Most of this was how I spent my Sunday. That, and I fixed dinner. By then I was sick of food, but BOY did the house smell good!

"Who are you?!?"

The Chief took me to a Moroccan restaurant Saturday night for my birthday. We both enjoy Moroccan food, we got a table right next to the dance floor (do you see where this is going?) and we got to see not just one but two dancers! And the best part was that the first dancer got me up on the floor with her so I got to "play"! Got a chuckle from the audience when I stopped at one point to remove my heels, which I was wearing for the first time.

As we were getting ready to leave, I stopped by the table where the dancers were sitting to tell them how much I'd enjoyed the show. The first one, who'd gotten me up to dance, commented that I obviously knew what I was doing; "Who are you?!?" In other words, how is it you can dance like that and we've never seen you before? :D

As always, the evening had me thinking I need to get back to dancing - love the music, the "toys" (finger cymbals, veils, canes...), costumes - great excuse to wear some really over-the-top jewelry and other bling - what's not to love!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cinderella and Long Island Cheese

No, not a Disney film (or parody thereof), but two pumpkin varieties I've bought samples of for baking. Now that we have a freezer, I'll have room for the gallon or two of pumpkin I anticipate getting from these 2 rather sizable specimens of cucurbita. Pies, breads, cookies, muffins, soup - I love me some winter squash cooking!

Monday, September 12, 2011

But you already knew this

I'm really getting to hate the very word "cancer". I just e-mailed the couple who were the life's blood of the folk dance performing troupe I used to dance with. She e-mailed me back with an answer to my question, and with the news that her husband died of cancer back in June! He was barely in his 50s, had been healthy as any horse (they ate right, danced, worked out, ran - you name it). He was a vibrant personality, patient teacher, a wonderful dancer - hard to believe he's gone!

The Chief's cousin seems to be failing fast with her cancer too. He talked to one of their cousins the other night, who said M never got on the phone any more and cited some other things that just aren't like her. Sounds like we may need to make sure our funeral clothes are ready to go.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another culinary experiment that's a keeper

Busy day in the kitchen today - made a pot of mushroom soup from scratch from an online recipe. I want to play with it a bit (e.g., I think it would have thickened if I'd used 1% milk instead of skim and low-fat sour cream instead of fat-free) but it's definitely one I'll make again. Served it with bread & salad - very good and very healthy. I used "baby bella" mushrooms, so even the virtually fat-free version tasted rich and indulgent. I always ask the Chief's opinion on my experiments; he's not a big soup fan, but when asked my usual "should I make this again?", he answered "definitely!"

We're doing pretty well with our decision to try to eat better. I've done a lot of experimenting with lower-fat versions of standards (found a good baked eggplant parmagiana recipe I'm still tweaking), tried some new things. We haven't been nearly as good about eating more meatless meals. The baked eggplant recipe is the only meatless entree added to the repertory. I've asked the Chief to look for meatless entrees he'd like to try but he can't really look at a recipe and decide if it sounds good; to him it's just a list of ingredients. Guess I'll have to pull out our one vegetarian cookbook and take another look at the things I'd marked to try first.

I saw another mushroom recipe that calls for 3 kinds of mushrooms but it's meant as a side; I'd have to play with it to see if I can figure out how to work in some protein to make it an entree. Any ideas, anyone?

Look, up in the sky!

The sun! We finally got a sunny day yesterday, for the first time in a week. High humidity but no rain, so I actually got out and took a quick walk before dinner. Wanted to do that today, but didn't get out before it clouded up and threatened yet another storm. We didn't get any rain, but I was reluctant to go out and find myself blocks from home if the heavens decided to open up.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Any mourners for the deceased?

The Chief found a corpse the other day! He was up in the attic measuring for insulation when he spotted a little mouse carcass. He has since moved a few traps up there, in case the mice are hanging out up there now that the weather isn't so hot. I just hope we can get rid of the vermin before the cold weather gets here, or we'll be stuck with them all winter, chewing on things and making a mess.

Such a crazy week!

Last week was one for the record books. Storms Sunday night that spawned a few tornados (no major damage, thank God), the East Coast's first significant earthquake in not nearly enough years on Tuesday, then Hurricane Irene Saturday, which tried to obliterate poor Vermont and from which some people in this area are still out of power!

The earthquake was my first. I was in a class for work that day, had felt the occasional rumble or vibration earlier in the day, but then the projector images started bobbing up & down while the screens swayed and the floor kinda rolled - very weird! They ended up sending us home early (along with practically everyone else in town), and several buildings were closed the next day while structural damage was assessed, but most places seemed to escape with little or no damage.

The hurricane was another disaster that wasn't as bad as it could have been. The power outages persist, but they weren't quite as widespread as from Isabel, and at least in our area, there wasn't as much damage from downed trees. That was my biggest fear, given that it rained and rained and rained, for close to 24 hours straight! The chief & I lost power for 23 hours, but the weather wasn't blistering or freezing, we have a gas stove and plenty of non-perishables, and we're not on a well, so we had water. Could have been much worse, although trying to shower & shave by flashlight was an experience we'd prefer not to repeat.


We ended up coming home from the fair with about 13 LBS. of beefsteak tomatoes! In my innocence, I decided to make marinara sauce. Note to self: beefsteak tomatoes do NOT make good sauce - much too watery! Much basil, rosemary, oregano, and tomato paste and 8 or so hours later, we ended up with 18 cups of sauce. I gave away at least half of it, used another 1 1/2 c. in a baked eggplant recipe I found online, but we still have tons of the stuff left. We may be eating a lot of pasta this weekend, or maybe it'd be good over, say, a baked potato...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I hate meeces to pieces!

The Chief spotted a mouse zipping through the living room a few days ago. Since mice never seem to travel without their extended families, we're readying for battle. The first step was to take all the fruit & bread we usually leave out and stash it all in the fridge.

The Chief bought 10 mouse traps, baited them with peanut butter and set them all over the place, though we have yet to catch anything. This afternoon he looked in the cabinet under the sink for a clean dishtowel and realized where the little critters have been nesting. I've now got a load of dishtowels in the washer, which is set on "scald the living daylights outta these things to get rid of the mouse mess!" Once they're clean, those dishtowels are going into a sealed bin until we can be sure we've managed to evict the filthy little interlopers. If I weren't allergic, we could get a cat to help with our little problem.

We've been through this before out at the cabin, and I had to deal w/ a mouse infestation when I lived in England. Hardly my favorite homeowner's headache, but neither am I about to jump up on furniture and start shrieking if I see one of the little beasties.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

County fair

The Chief and I went to a county fair today; his first and my first in 20+ years. Not too hot for August, and relatively low humidity, so we didn't kill ourselves walking around looking at everything.

The Chief enjoyed the animals (we wandered thru the sheep barn as feeding time was approaching; all the sheep seemed to be saying something like "c'mon, where's lunch?!?"), but what he enjoyed best was watching all the little kids. The stroller brigade seemed to be out in force - flocks and throngs of toddlers, young children, even babies, all of them utterly fascinated by just about everything.

One vendor had a lot of John Deere equipment displayed, most of it available for kids to climb on. They even had a combine they'd converted to a slide - climb the ladder into the cab, then slide down the "chute". That one was very popular! They also had a corral full of JD toys for kids to play with, as well as a gift shop with all kinds of JD-logo items, mostly toys for future customers. The whole area was swarming with kids and parents with cameras. I asked the Chief if he wanted me to take his picture sitting in the cab of one machine or another, but he declined. ;)

The livestock barns all had empty spaces, even those barns where exhibitors had set up a space to hang out in the shade. I wonder how long it's been since every single one of those spaces was needed for livestock...?

We also strolled through the 4-H exhibit halls and looked at the winning entries in all kinds of categories. There was one for sewing by children (I didn't see ages displayed). One girl had done quite well - she had a 2-piece outfit that had won a blue ribbon, and a fairly intricate dress (not elaborate, but a lot of assembly and she'd added some nice, subtle touches) that had won a Reserve Champion award.

We stopped by a produce stand on our way out and bought about 12 lbs. of tomatoes. What on earth am I gonna do with all those tomatoes? Why, make marinara sauce, of course, using my fresh basil, rosemary & oregano. I just have to peel all these darn tomatoes first; that'll take a while, so making the sauce itself may have to wait until tomorrow. Our house is gonna smell SOOOOOOO good while it's simmering!

Our county's fair is coming up in a few weeks; walking through this one has me seriously considering entering something in one of the cooking categories. Probably not the marinara sauce - this will be my very first batch; I haven't had time to play with it and get it where I want it. If I decide to take the plunge, it'll probably be some tried-and-true recipe that doesn't need refrigeration.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thinking this could be an interesting place.


Finally getting caught up

My, but we've had a busy month or so! The Chief & I were at the cabin over the 4th of July weekend and hosted several visitors for parts of it, as well as having some fellow part-timers join us for dinner. We loved having so much company, and our guests seemed to have a good time too.

Then came the marathon:

L&K converged on the cabin the 3rd week of July; first time the three of us had been together for more than a flying visit since K moved away several years ago. It was lovely to have so much time to chat, even if we did have to wait until K's two girls (ages 7 and "10 slash 11") were in bed. The heat set records, and the portable a/c unit could barely keep up (got the temp down to 85 and the humidity down to about 55%), so we weren't terribly active, but that wasn't really the point.

They left on a Saturday; the next day, my sister3 and family arrived at the house so they could do the usual tourist things. I had to work and the Chief ended up leaving Tuesday to go to the dentist, then continue west, but I did get to see them briefly when they came back at the end of a day, hungry, tired, sweaty, and dehydrated from walking all over town in triple-digit heat. They ended up leaving a bit early so they could stop at a Civil War site on the way home. That gave me a whole day between their departure and my own departure to join the Chief (who had driven) in the Midwest for a week.

We spent the week hanging out with family; stayed with mom's sister & her husband, had dinners with different siblings and at Dad's place, hosted those who could join us for a lovely seafood lunch, went swimming w/ several of us, including my 2 little nieces, and generally had a nice, relaxed time. Hard to believe we were there a whole week - seemed like we'd barely opened our suitcases when it was time to go home again.

I got back Friday afternoon, went home from the airport by way of the commissary, was home for all of about 3 hours before heading back out to the cabin. Saturday was the annual block party out there - couldn't miss that! The Chief was still on the road and couldn't make it, but I did save him a piece of the peach cobbler that one person had brought.

We were back out at the cabin last weekend, where friends joined us. This time the highs were only in the 80s and the humidity was low, at least for August, so we had a very nice time indeed. The Chief had to stay and accompany the window installers while I played tour guide for our friends, but we didn't leave him alone all that long. In fact, we managed to time our return so that we got back barely half an hour after the installers left.

Here we'd been trying for years to get people to visit us and they all arrived practically at once! That's OK, though; we're glad they made it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My sentiments exactly!

First this: (given how Mom went, 6 months after a clean bill of health from her oncologist)

followed by this:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Two-fer for the ortho

I managed to hurt my shoulder during my training a few weeks ago, and then my knee seized up on me and has been bothering me ever since, so I had a two-fer when I went to the orthopedist this afternoon.

It was an "interesting" visit, starting w/ having to park a block away (construction eating up half the parking lot). "Nothing left but handicapped parking" they said, yet as I gimped thru the lot in the 109-heat-index heat, I passed at least half a dozen empty spots. Sigh.

- The nurse taking my stats was all impressed that I'd lost weight since I was there in early Feb (before I started WW). When I told her I was on Weight Watchers, she asked "Does it work?" "You're looking at the numbers!"
- The ortho's bedside manner was much better this time. He checked my shoulder, determined I have rotator cuff damage to go w/ the arthritis in the AC joint, ordered an MRI & PT. I've got my fingers crossed that the MRI shows little or no damage; if it's torn all the way through, I have to have surgery, but only if it's torn all the way through.
- He said I have a little arthritis in the knee - no surprise - and I've also "aggravated" the joint around the patella. (If I apologize to my knee, maybe send it flowers, do you think it would forgive me?) He told me to give it NSAIDs and time - up to "several months"! It still hurts, but it's a relief to know that he didn't think surgery is required.
- There was a produce stand set up outside the HMO's front door! The heat made all the fruit smell WONDERFUL but I only bought 2 boxes of strawberries & one of blueberries instead of buying *everything* that looked or smelled good.

The heat gave me a migraine and nausea, but imitrex and a light dinner eventually did the trick. Better living thru chemistry, right? ;) That and a husband who was willing to fix dinner while I lay down for a bit.

Friday, July 08, 2011


After the Chief & I did our futon shopping yesterday, we went to my favorite Italian restaurant for dinner, as it very conveniently was only a few blocks away. I ordered the fettuccine w/ calamari in red sauce and there they were - not just the rings but the micro-squids, or "squidlets". Love those tender little critters! The portion was generous enough that half was a satisfactory dinner and the other half was a very tasty lunch today.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

I don't need this poster but I love it!

Maybe I'll get a copy to put up at work...

Stalking the wild futon

The Chief & I have been talking for a year or more about replacing the full-size bed in the guest room. We've been dithering because we were remodeling, then paying off the remodel, then trying to decide how we could fit a queen-size bed in that itty-bitty room (about 9'x9'). The other day my sister & brother-in-law e-mailed us that their big family trek is going to happen after all and the 5 of them will be here at the end of this month!

The Chief & I realized we need to replace that bed NOW - my BIL is well over 6' tall - so he started researching beds on line. We quickly realized we could get a queen-size futon for about the price of a good mattress & box spring, so it was off to the store as soon as I got home from work this afternoon. The process wasn't nearly as painful or time-consuming as we'd expected, and the saleswoman told us we'd gotten there just in time, as they were about to raise their prices - tomorrow! That would have added $150-200 to the price, so our timing was fortuitous indeed. Even better was the fact that they give a 15% military discount - we done good!

Our choice is supposed to be delivered late next week, so this weekend's agenda features dismantling the old bed and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Has it really been that long?

I can explain. Really. First there was that week-long training trip - all practical exercises, so no computers in sight (what a refreshing change!), and very little down time. Thanks to belt-tightening, seems like all the training is getting fewer days to cover the same amount of material. Makes for long days and, in this case, an exhausting week!

Then of course I had to get caught up at work after being out of the office for a week. What would your inbox look like if you hadn't been able to do any "weeding" for a whole week? Yep, that's how mine looked. All I did my first day back was submit my travel accounting and kill e-mail.

Just got back from a lovely 5-day weekend at the cabin. We hosted 3 overnight guests and 4 local folks who joined us for dinner. The weather wasn't quite as hot as July can get - certainly none of the 3-digit temps we had over the 4th last year! - so we were comfortable with the windows open most of the weekend. We might have had even more guests; that's certainly what I shopped & cooked for, lest I commit the ultimate hospitality crime of not having enough food for my guests. The Chief rather got on my case about that, but at least we'll continue to eat well for the next few days, or until we polish off the last of the grilled chicken. (Wonder how much of that stuff we can eat before we need to worry about sprouting feathers and starting to cluck?)

And now I'm back, to find that H and family will be coming for a visit the between L&C's visit and when the Chief & I visit most of my family. This is shaping up to be a very busy summer indeed! Aside from wishing for a little space between the next few visits, though, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New grill

The Chief & I bought a new grill for the cabin last weekend. We hadn't planned to, but it seems they're ALL on sale the weekend before Father's Day, and the one we have out there now is a good size for two but inadequate for the company we're expecting this summer (his cousin & her family, my friends & daughters, another couple, friends w/ their toddler, maybe my sister and her family). The new one is another Weber, but this one has a whole cart arrangement, not just the grill, so we now have a convenient place to put things instead of pressing a folding chair or other non-grill furniture into service. We even bought a cover for it; it's what all the well-dressed grills are wearing this year. ;-)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Playing in the dirt

More "garden as gym" this weekend. I finally got my new ice plants in the ground, planted the tulip bulbs from the pots I bought back in April (the original 6 bulbs in each of 2 pots yielded over a dozen more - EACH!), set my ground covers in the heavily shaded bed the Chief made back by the shed... My "digging muscles" were talking to me Monday!

Tuesday I finished up: dug up some spiderwort that was trying to surround one corner of the deck, separated some of the irises there and replanted them, and put an oregano and a basil plant in the resulting hole. To give you an idea of how solid the ground was, I had to soak the spot with the hose a few times and let the water sink in before I could get the shovel to get a good bite.

The new "residents" seem to be happy, though; the two original ice plants already have volunteers (!) and the basil & oregano looked quite healthy when I watered them after work yesterday. The transplanted irises don't look quite as good, but they'd been in the same spot since before I bought the house years ago, so I expect they'll take a bit longer to resign themselves to their new neighborhood.

Going Apple

Sunday I finally took the plunge and bought an iPad. The Chief and I went into the Apple store, I found someone to answer my questions, one of the sales folks rang me up (on her iPhone!) and e-mailed the receipt to my home. Then came the challenging part.

The sales person walked me over to the Personal Set-up table and handed me off to a lovely young lady who proceeded to help me get my iPad up and running. However, we ran into trouble almost immediately when my verizon and netscape e-mail addresses wouldn't synch up. It took about half an hour before they finally found the right documentation for the verizon set-up, and they never did find good instructions for getting the netscape address added to my iPad account. The whole set-up had me sitting there for nearly an hour and a half on Sunday - and we didn't even finish! - while various Apple staffers tried to solve the problem. The manager even came over and apologized, thanked me (more than once) for my patience, and let me have my choice of their spiffy magnetic covers for free.

We went back last night so that one of "my" techs from Sunday could redo my iTunes id, which we'd originally set up to the netscape address that the iPad wouldn't take. When we tried to change it to my verizon address, up popped the info - name, address and phone numbers - of somebody in Pittsburgh! Not wanting to mess up his account, the tech called him, explained the problem, got his e-mail - NOT the same as mine, despite what iTunes seemed to think - and gave him her info so he could be sure she was legit and was trying to make sure his iTunes account was secure. Murphy was obviously iPad shopping with me!

After about an hour, we finally got my iPad up & running and the tech gave us a demo of Apple TV. One of the other customers who was watching the demo declared it "Awesome!" I gotta agree; you plug the iPad into the Apple TV box, which connects to your flatscreen
TV, and you can pull up TV shows or movies (hulu, netflix, itunes...) on the iPad and watch them on the TV. You can also use the tv as a computer monitor if you want to surf the web or watch embedded videos, and even enlarge those videos to full-screen - way cool!

The Chief studied laptops while I was getting my iPad worked on and was pretty impressed with a lot of what he saw. The Apple TV, though, really blew him away - he's been looking at flatscreen
TVs off and on for a year or more, but I think this is gonna push him to buy one sooner rather than later. I may have to lock up my iPad so he can't "adopt" it from me. :D


We are now free of car payments - WAHOO!!! The Chief & I both made final payments on our respective vehicles this month. Going from two car payments to none is a beautiful thing - we're looking forward to next month, when we won't have those taken out of our paychecks any more. That's gonna free up a lotta money that we can throw at things like Christmas presents and doing some repairs and upgrades at the house & the cabin a little sooner than we thought we could. It'll also mean that buying Christmas plane tickets won't be quite as painful as usual. (Though looking at airfares the other night still induced a gasp - have you seen how they've jumped?!?)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

One week on...

Now that I've had a week to get used to the new haircut, I've noticed a few things:
- It feels weird, not because of all the fluff in the ear-to-chin zone but because it's in my face. For the first time in YEARS I'm not wearing it pulled back (in barrette, braid or bun) every day. I could pull it back in a barrette, but then it would look like a shorter version of the same 'do I've worn for over 2 decades. That would rather defeat the purpose of the new cut.
- Probably because it's not pulled back now, I regularly catch my hair in my reading glasses. I may soon have a bald spot on one side of my face...
- If I want to pull it out of my face, I've resorted to a very short ponytail or a knit headband. And sunglasses make a pretty stylin' headband too. ;)
- It's going to take me a while to get used to the fact that I don't need nearly as much shampoo or conditioner as I used to.
- The reviews have been very favorable indeed. From raves to telling me it makes me look younger, and of course all the folks who are still adjusting to me with short hair (from a colleague as we approached each other from opposite ends of a long hall: "I'm still not quite sure it's you").
- Still trying to figure out how to brush my hair so it doesn't frizz so badly that I look like a brunette dandelion that's gone to seed. Finger-combing leaves it still looking a bit messy; wide-tooth comb is next, I guess.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

ROCKED my recital pieces this afternoon!

Or rather, Doug rocked the piano and I went along for the ride. It was SO much fun to have as my accompanist a specialist in music of the era, who knows it so well that he can improvise to a faretheewell and, as if that weren't enough, is a singer & voice teacher so he knows how to follow me or help me along as needed. My voice teacher's husband told me my pieces w/ Doug were more like a duet. My teacher (who joked about my being a "true diva" because I had not just one but two accompanists) told me afterwards, "You were on fire! He woke you up!" :D

That energy carried over from my "blue songs" into my G&S piece too. I told my fellow recitalists the scary story of Sir Rupert Murgatroyd, they looked suitably rapt or horrified, and we all had a great time.

That was fun - can we do it again soon? Actually, I just might. There's an open-mic cabaret night downtown in a couple of weeks; I'm definitely going! I just have to decide whether I want to sing, or just sit in the audience and see how these work.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Recital this weekend!

This Sunday is my voice teacher's studio recital. This year I'm doing 3 pieces: Blues in the Night, Blue Skies, and Dame Hannah's first aria from Ruddigore. Definitely a different program, especially as the Ruddigore piece includes chorus; the plan is to teach the chorus parts to the other recitalists at tomorrow's dress rehearsal, then let them sing from their seats on Sunday.

What I'm really excited about is the 2 blue pieces. I took them over to Doug's Tuesday night for some coaching, as he has a swing band (they played our wedding reception) and he's an expert in music of the 1920s-1940s. As I'd expected, he was able to give me some coaching in a more period way to deliver the music, and his accompaniment was so much fun, it completely changed how I sang. When I told him I wished he could accompany me on those 2 pieces for the recital, he said "Let me check my schedule." Turns out I'm going to get some world-class musicianship playing for me on Sunday! We won't get much time to rehearse - just a quick run-through that afternoon - but Doug's such a pro, I can trust him to follow me. What a thrill! This is going to be as much fun as singing with the brilliant accompanist we had for the cabaret class I took a couple of years ago.

Small disappointment

Lately I've been on something of a smoothie kick in an effort to get more dairy in my diet (1 c. skim milk, 1/2 c. fat-free yogurt of one flavor or another, plus 2 c. of frozen fruit). I've found that strawberries, peaches & blueberries make really good smoothies; bananas are ok if they're ripe, but not if they're even the tiniest bit green. Tonight I tried frozen mango and was a little disappointed. I love mango, but the frozen version makes the smoothie seem a bit, oh, powdery or something; weird texture, at any rate. Not enough to make me throw it out, only enough that I won't do that again.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The new ferns and their neighbors

A few pictures of the bed my oldest nephew engineered and which he & the Chief built. I've got my fingers crossed that we don't lose more plants this winter, since our nurseryman is going out of business. :(

More goodies for the garden!

We spent the weekend out at the cabin and I ended up buying a lot more than I'd intended at our nurseryman's going-out-of-business sale. I came home with 6 ferns (Japanese painted, running lady, mexican male, Virginia chain) and 6 miniature hostas. The ferns went into the beds at the cabin, filling holes left by plants that didn't survive the winter, while the hostas will go into the bed at home where the Chief first planted calladiums, not realizing they would survive winter only if brought indoors. Maybe the hostas will get planted tomorrow, more likely they'll have to be coddled aboveground until the weekend. One way or another, though, I'll get something sturdy in that now-empty bed.

My first new 'do in YEARS!

I'd been getting itchy to change my hair, after wearing it long (sometimes "only" mid-back, sometimes down to my hips) for 25+ years. However, I had to wait until after Thebes closed, as I used my hair as a character prop. We closed last weekend, so today was the big day; Locks of Love gets another donation, and I have my first new hairstyle (styles I've worn for shows don't count) since the 1980s! The hairdresser whacked off my donation, then evened things out, then gave me some "long layers" so the end result wouldn't be "triangular". It'll take some getting used to - I have all this fluff around my neck but no hair even on my shoulders, because whacking off all that hair freed up my natural curl.

I can't help but wonder what I'll do with my hair the next time I'm in a show, but I'll worry about that when I'm cast in something. I may well grow it out again at some later date, if only to make use of all the hair "tools" (rollers of several different kinds, curling irons, that Vintage Hairstyles book) I've accumulated, but I expect I'll stick with this for a while, since the initial reviews have been favorable. ;)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Big plans for the weekend

Now that Thebes has closed and my weekends are my own again, I've got big plans for this weekend:
  • First of all, I'm making the long weekend even longer - I'm taking Friday & Tuesday off work.
  • Friday I plan to hit an outlet mall to replace the summer sandals that gave up the ghost last year, and maybe find a dress to wear for my voice teacher's studio recital next weekend.
  • We're getting a new storm door installed at the cabin. This one will have a full-door screen for more ventilation; I'm looking forward to sitting in "my" chair and enjoying the additional breezes.
  • The Chief & I will go window shopping, as in shopping for windows to replace the contractor-grade junk in the bedroom.
  • I'm getting a massage! Maybe J can work her magic on my arthritic shoulder and get it to leave me alone.
  • The Chief & I will probably hit the gym at least once or twice over the weekend, maybe more.
  • I need to visit our nurseryman to pick up some ferns and hellebores, maybe a few other shade-loving plants.
  • Tuesday I've got an appointment for a consultation w/ a hairdresser to decide what to do with my hair. After wearing it long and straight for 25+ years, I'm overdue for a change (and Locks of Love will get another donation).
Now to draft the list of "provisions" for the Chief to take to the cabin this weekend...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Goodbye to "Thebes"

The Burial at Thebes had its final performance last night. Definitely one of my top theater experiences. It was my first tragedy, and in modern language, in a very intimate space, so I had to learn more "normal" reactions than you would use in a larger space, such as where I just did La Belle Helene. Last night during my long backstage break, I finally counted up my lines - 32 in the whole show, including the unison lines in the choral odes. I spent a lot of time on stage in this show, but with so few lines, I obviously was spending most of that stage time reacting to what others were saying and doing. All that time I've spent doing just that in ensembles was good preparation! ;-)

But nothing prepared me for crying real tears on stage. I've done a fair bit of mock crying, but this was different. I always ended up crying at least a little during the Haemon-Creon scene but last night was the soggiest. At one point Haemon came up to me during one of his speeches (I spent nearly all my stage time at the back of the set on one of the platforms), which he'd never done before, and we held hands briefly. As he turned to go back to his increasingly heated exchange with Creon, I squeezed his hand, then raised one hand toward his cheek. That little exchange "primed the pump", as it were, choking me up. The tears came more readily then, as Haemon & Creon got more & more upset, to the point where I had to make a conscious effort not to cry audibly. By the time I exited on Creon's heels, the tears were running so freely that I had to check a mirror in the dressing room to see whether my eye make-up was running. (It wasn't. Maybelline Ultra-Liner - good stuff!)

I liked the way our director broke up the chorus bits, assigning most of the lines to individuals and designating other lines to be spoken by smaller groups or all of us, instead of the more traditional method of having everyone in the chorus say every chorus line. Having a choreographer block the choral odes was another choice that I hadn't expected but which I liked. It certainly set the odes apart from the rest of the action and made sure that they didn't stop the action dead in its tracks.

This was a good stretch - I got to work with a director whose process was very different from anything I'd encountered before, I got another straight play under my belt, I learned how to cry on stage, and I got to do a show I'm proud to say I was part of.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Spending our 10th in different states

The Chief and I marked our 10th anniversary a couple of weeks ago. We were in different parts of the country, but that's OK. We spent our first anniversary on different continents (he was deployed to the Middle East at the time), so this was certainly an improvement; we'll just celebrate when it's convenient.

The reason we weren't together was that I went west on "godmother duty" - my godson was being confirmed at the Easter vigil Mass at the Newman Center on his college campus. I stayed with Dad, which he loved, and got to spend a lot of time with most of my family.

The Chief went north to spend Easter with a cousin who's currently going thru chemo. While there, he also managed to visit a couple of very senior aunts, one of whom is on hospice care, the other of whom is suffering from heart trouble but is so old that the doctors can't risk surgery.

Friday, May 06, 2011

I made someone cry! :-)

Tonight we all had a really good night - great energy and our timing was spot on. We were all keenly aware of the others' reactions and really hanging on each speaker's every word. I don't know whether it was because we were all eager to get back to Thebes after having to do without for nearly a week or for some other reason, but I think this was our best performance to date.

The Burial at Thebes, being a Greek tragedy, involves a lot of anguish before the bodies start piling up. Eurydice, my character, has very few lines but I spend a lot of time on stage reacting to what others are saying. One such scene involves Creon, my husband and the new king, and Haemon, our son, arguing about Creon's verdict that Antigone, Haemon's fiancee, must die for defying the decree not to bury Polyneices' body (her brother). It starts out tense and gets worse, with Haemon saying all the wrong things, Creon flying off the handle, and Haemon essentially threatening to kill himself if Creon executes Antigone. Eurydice gets more & more upset as things escalate, gasping when it looks like Haemon's about to do either himself or his father an injury, then flings off in a rage.

The first night we rehearsed the whole show, I was surprised to find myself actually getting a bit misty-eyed in this scene. Some nights the tears have been reluctant to flow, others they've come more readily. Tonight I was more into that scene than I ever have been, so that the tears started sooner and just kept rolling. I don't wipe them away, but leave them alone until I get offstage. Until tonight, I never knew whether the audience could see any of that.

Tonight our director decided to have a post-show discussion for any interested audience members, with the cast joining as we got out of costume. Those patrons who stayed to participate were very complimentary. One woman commented that she & her husband are regular patrons of community theater and had observed that nearly every show had at least one performer who didn't quite get into it or stay in character throughout. Not so tonight - she said we all were completely engaged and solid in our characters.

Our Antigone's mother had some good questions for the cast, then looked straight at me (!) and said that she cried easily and seeing me cry during the Creon-Haemon scene had her crying too. Another woman told me something similar afterwards, that she thought my reactions were very moving and completely believable. She also found my final scene, when I learn Antigone & Haemon are both dead, "very powerful". In fact, our Antigone said the same - that when she peeked out one night during that scene, I looked so very bleak upon hearing the bad news that it was quite moving.

Perhaps because mine is such a tiny role (if our director hadn't decided to include me in some of the chorus stuff, I'd only be on for one tiny scene near the end), the director hasn't had much to say to me about what I've been doing. Now all of a sudden, in one night I get all kinds of feedback, all positive. Yep, I'm feeling the love! :D

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Two lush-ous Lumps

Another goody for certain friends: