Friday, December 18, 2015

How to make a fun semester even better

I requested an unofficial transcript for the semester so I could print a copy to take to the university's new student orientation.  I was delighted to see that I have STRAIGHT A's for the semester!  Woohoo!  I got straight A's for having fun - gotta love it!

This university's administration is SO messed up!

First it was all those auto-emails from Admissions, promising a response to my query within 3 business days.  I think the shortest time I waited for a response was 2 calendar weeks.  Then the system took a coupla days to acknowledge that I'd paid the enrollment confirmation fee.  Now it's New Student Orientation (NSO henceforth).

First, navigating their NSO page is an exercise in frustration, as many of the links keep circling back to ones I've already visited.  NSO is mandatory; can't register for classes until you attend.  However - there are no NSO sessions left before the start of the semester!  I might have been able to sign up sooner if:
1) they'd responded to my application in mid-October as promised, instead of Dec. 2nd;
2) they'd responded immediately, or at least within the promised "3 business days", to my deferral request (submitted Dec. 3rd), instead of waiting until Dec. 17th.
Their foot-dragging put me a good 5 or 6 weeks behind where I might have been had they responded as promised.

And of course I didn't get a chance to get online to register for NSO until after dinner tonight, long after the Orientation office had closed.  I'm hoping there'll be someone in the office Monday morning who can help me with this little problem.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The university didn't cooperate with my plans.

Finally heard back from the university admissions office today.  I went by there Tuesday and was told I needed to accept their admission offer (which included submitting a hefty, non-refundable (natch!) deposit) before they'd even consider my deferral request. I went through those steps, sent them their money, then requested a deferral from the admissions officer in charge of such things.  I finally heard back this afternoon that they don't grant deferrals just so you can complete a degree elsewhere.  Never mind that when I submitted my application way back last July, I didn't know how close I was to an A.A., and no word of acknowledgement of how hard it is to get hold of a real person to give you a straight answer.  Harrumph!  However, given the glorious facility that is their performing arts space, and the wealth of wonderful-sounding course offerings, I'm not too broken up.  I just have to shift mental gears, from "community college" to "university".  And to think of the hoops I jumped through to test outta that computer literacy class.  Oh well.

I also heard back about my prescreening audition for the School of Music.  I was not surprised to learn that I wasn't invited for an in-person audition, given all the vocal problems I was still recovering from when I had to do the recording.  No matter; this just gives me that much more time to select and work on audition pieces for the Fall 2017 cycle.

So no, they didn't cooperate with my plans, but in January I get to start sinking my teeth into their banquet of "Theatre" offerings, so yay!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

And that's the semester!

Finally finished and submitted the research paper for my last class (Script Analysis).  At 10 pages (and could've gone longer), it was easily the longest paper I've written this semester.  In fact, it's at least as long as my next two longest papers combined, just because the professor had so very many things we needed to cover.  A useful exercise, but oh did it take a long time to pull together everything I needed!

Now my time is my own again and I can spend time on voice practice, Lend Me a Tenor research, Regency sewing, Christmas cards...

Regency stays complete! Next - a toile of the dress.

My seamstress just blogged (with my permission) about my stays, now that they're finished.  As soon as I finish this last paper, I can call it a semester and start working on a toile for my very first Regency dress.  First stop will be a fabric store to get some grid fabric, because I know at least the bodice pattern piece will need adjusting.  I've got some lavender dotted fabric that I'll use (because it was just as cheap as the muslin I was looking at when the Chief & I were in Amish country this summer).  With any luck at all, I'll be able to use my toile as a "real" dress.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Three down, two to go

Two more finals under my belt.  Yesterday's Technical Theater final was easy; identify 10 tools and provide a materials cut list & assembly instructions for a standard platform and flat.  The tool ID was a piece of cake, as I'd used all but 2 of them during the course of the semester.  I lost 1 point on the platform instructions because I forgot that you use more crosspieces in a platform than a flat.  However, since that's only 1 point off the total for the final, I'll take it!  Looks like the only other points I lost all semester were for one of the quizzes (I only knew the answer to one of the 3 questions).  Again, I'll take it.  The grade totals haven't been weighted yet, but I think I'm looking at an A in that course - wahoo!

Today's final was for Acting I.  I didn't start my paper for that one until I got home from yesterday's finals, but a little digging through my notes and a coupla online searches gave me what I needed for the paper.  The monologue was a little rocky; I knew it when I was practicing it in the lobby, but once I got on stage I stumbled a coupla places.  I didn't actually forget the words, just tripped on them a few times.  Not a disaster, just not as good as I'd hoped.  My scene went well.  I was blessed with a good scene partner, for starters, which made everything else easy.  We did a decent job of incorporating the new business our instructor suggested last week, had decent volume (I think), and generally managed to acquit ourselves honorably. :)  Not sure whether I'll end up with an A or a B, but either way I think I'll be happy with my grade.

That leaves just the drafting and execution of my Stage Makeup final design (tomorrow) and the research and writing of my Script Analysis paper, due Sunday night.  I've had enough late nights this week that I'm pretty tired, so I'll probably just draft the makeup design, make a few research notes for my paper and go to bed at a decent hour for a change.  Tomorrow I'll dig into my paper in earnest.  Ideally, I'll have at least a rough draft written by bedtime tomorrow night so I can edit it Saturday and, God willing, turn it in that afternoon and call it a semester.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Finals underway

Turned in my take-home final this morning.  Still to do:  Script Analysis research paper; Tech Theater final (shop math and identification of tools and lighting instrument parts; that one will only need about an hour or so of review); research paper, monologue & scene for Acting I; and a design draft and execution for Stage Makeup.  Busy, busy, busy!

Oh, and Saturday holds my voice teacher's trunk show (she makes jewelry) and working concessions at a holiday show.

If I can just hang on through this weekend, I can breathe again.  And Monday I start working in earnest on "Lend Me a Tenor" designs.  (1930s styles are so lovely!)

They got on that right away!

I emailed my IC3 certification last night for transfer credit.  I got an email at lunchtime today letting me know they've got the equivalency credit in my records already.  Wow, that was fast!  They must get a lot of these requests if they're able to turn mine around so quickly - love it!

I'm in! Now to find out when...

I finally learned on Wednesday that my uni application was accepted, for this spring.  Um...  Since I submitted that application way back in July, 4 months ago, I've learned that I need just two more classes to get an Associate's degree next spring.  Might as well do that, and take some other classes I'm interested in, at the "discounted" community college rate.  That's why I asked if they'd let me defer my enrollment until the fall.  So far, things are starting to fall my way.

I wanted 4 things to happen, in order:  1) uni accepts me; 2) they let me wait until fall to enroll; 3) the Music School calls me back for an in-person audition; and 4) they accept me into the Voice program.  I've got #1 taken care of, and am hopeful for #2.  Even if 3 and 4 don't happen, I can still be a Theater major; no audition required for that program, though there is a scholarship I can (and will) audition for.

Achievement unlocked!

One of the requirements for my Associate's degree is a basic computer literacy class.  Fortunately, there's an alternative.  There's a company that, for a consideration (of course), offers a 3-part IC3 certification exam.  I arranged to take the Computing Fundamentals exam last week and passed it with very little study.  Because the person who proctors the tests arranged it on such short notice, all I really had time to do was download a study guide, take the 2 practice exams, review the results, and cross my fingers.  All the computer classes I had to take for work stood me in pretty good stead; I passed on my first attempt.  (A good thing, as you have to buy a voucher for each attempt.  Not something that'll break the bank, but they add up.)

I was scheduled to take both the Living Online and Key Applications exams this afternoon.  Again, not much time to study, as I had trouble accessing the online materials associated with the study guide.  I spent the morning working through the LO practice tests, then started working through the KA study guide after lunch.  I finally got the online practice materials downloaded, but with only barely enough time to speed through one of the two KA practice tests before I had to report to the testing center.  As I rather expected, I finished the LO test with a comfortable amount of time to spare.  (They allow 50 minutes for a 45-question exam.)  The KA test was the one I was not at all sure I'd pass on the first attempt.  I was still puzzling out a couple of questions when my time expired, so I thought for sure I'd be retaking it.  Not so!  To my relief, I passed, and by a comfortable margin.  In fact, to my surprise, that was the exam on which I scored the highest.

I've now sent in a copy of my "transcript" for the college to evaluate and certify that this covers their computer literacy requirement.  That'll free up 3 credit hours for something I really want to take, or maybe I'll just slack off next semester and take only 4 classes instead of 5.  (Not likely - too many things I want to take, and it's so much cheaper at the community college than at university!)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Quiet Thanksgiving

The Chief and I had a quiet Thanksgiving a deux.  We found out we weren't going to have guests before we pulled the turkey out of the freezer, so we pulled out lamb shanks instead.  Very tasty, but greasy and a lotta work getting the meat off the bone (back to leg of lamb or chops).  Beautiful weather, too; I walked a few things to the post office today and didn't even need a jacket!

Got in a videochat with Dad yesterday on my brother's phone, talked to 2 sisters last night.  Left messages on 2 friends' voicemail and had a nice little chat with another friend this morning.  The Chief's brother is doing well.  And we'll be having lunch on Sunday with a friend we haven't seen in person in much too long.  Good weekend!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gonna miss "shop class"

Now that I've got all my shop hours for the semester and the school production will be ending tomorrow, there'll be no more opportunities to build stuff in the theater scene shop. :(  I'm gonna miss using power tools to build flats and cabinet doors, platforms and trusses.  I'll miss spackling gaps too - (sounds like "jack sand") is fun to work with.

No telling what's going to happen next semester; the building is about to be mostly demolished and rebuilt into a much bigger performing arts facility.  It'll be 2 or 3 years before it's finished; no telling what they'll do for a scene shop or performing space in the meantime.  I sure hope they'll have something they can use for a scene shop, though - I want more shop class! :D

One last performance

"The Odd Couple" has one more performance - a 10:30 show tomorrow morning for a school group audience.  That'll be followed by strike, after which I can start thinking ahead to finals.  Already!  Running the sound board has actually been kinda boring.  Thanks to computerization, all I do is press keys on the laptop when the stage manager calls a sound cue.  However, I'm very grateful I don't have to run props or set changes.  This is a hugely prop-heavy show, and changing those things out at every scene change is a HUGE pain in the neck that I'm oh, so glad isn't my concern.

Next show...

Today I attended a production meeting for a production of Lend Me a Tenor (LMAT), for which I'm designing hair and makeup.  I love 1930s styles, so this will be fun.  LMAT presents the additional feature of requiring two of the men to wear Otello costumes, including "moorish" makeup.  One of them has to get out of that makeup and back into normal makeup relatively quickly.  (I still need to read the script to see just how much time he has for the change.  That'll happen this weekend.)

I've already reached out to the costumer to arrange a get-together so I can coordinate my designs with hers.  She may also want to borrow the dress I made last year for Death Takes a Holiday.  It would be nice to get a little more mileage out of it; doesn't matter that I won't be the one wearing it.

LMAT is a funny show; I'm looking forward to being part of the production team.


Yesterday (yes, Saturday) I finally got a response to my Nov. 9th email asking the uni when I might hear about the application I submitted in July.  I was told they'd be releasing their decisions next week.  Since this was sent on a Saturday, it's not clear whether "next week" means the week coming up, or the week after Thanksgiving, but at least I finally got a human being to respond.  Progress!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Starting to get annoyed

I've been very patient with the uni Admissions folks.  I was told "mid-October" for a decision on my application.  I pinged them Oct. 29 and got an auto-email telling me to give them 3-5 business days to reply.  When I got no response, I pinged them again Nov. 9.  I got the same auto-email; still nothing.  It's now about a month past when I expected to have a decision on my application and I've heard exactly nothing.  If I weren't about to go into tech week, I'd go down there again and try to shame them into giving me an answer.  I guess they don't really want my money...

Monday, November 09, 2015

"Today, class, we assemble furniture."

For today's Technical Theater class, we spent our time in the theater scene shop assembling Swedish flat-pack furniture (5 chairs and a bar stool) for the Odd Couple set.  Our instructor then had me help him start building the bar for the set.  I'll probably put in a shop hour or two tomorrow working on the same project or similar, as I still need to put in 10 more shop hours for the semester.  The pace is picking up as Opening Night gets closer; soon we'll start painting the set.

The director gave me and the props mistress "large print" copies of the script.  (We're both in her Script Analysis class.)  I've already taken the loose pages, drilled holes in them, and put the script into a binder so I can mark it up at Thursday's "paper tech" rehearsal (marking where light & sound cues happen).

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Feeling productive

Had a very productive day in the scene shop yesterday.  Only two of us showed up to earn shop hours, so we didn't have to share tasks or take turns with the tools.  We finished the steps and decking for the set, then removed a temporary backstage step to an entrance onto the set and replaced it with a platform.  The platform is at the same height as the entrance it serves, so the actors don't look silly stepping up to come into an apartment from the hallway.  Because the platform is so high, we also built a truss and step to make it easy to get onto and off the platform.  I got to cut the pieces for the truss and also drilled pilot holes for the screws putting it together.  I also "perforated" a bit of truss that needed trimming back to accommodate one of the steps on the front of the set, then cut some plywood for said step.  I don't drive the screws; I don't seem to have the hand strength or something.  However, I can measure accurately to 1/16" and can tell by the measurements I'm given whether I'm cutting a stile, a rail or a toggle.

This afternoon was spent in the kitchen: sweet potato-black bean chili, unstuffed cabbage rolls (tomorrow's dinner), and 15-bean soup with ham.  As you can imagine, the house smells oh, so homey and delicious right now.  Most of this bounty will go into the freezer so the Chief can have a ready dinner while I'm at the theater.  (The Odd Couple techs in next weekend.)  Tomorrow I'll make a batch of oxtail soup and, homework permitting, a batch of pumpkin-oatmeal-cranberry bars ("breakfast bars", as the Chief calls them).

Friday, November 06, 2015

You couldn't have told me that before?

I learned this afternoon that the transfer program I just applied for yesterday isn't for folks who already have a B.A.  It sure would be nice if they'd tell you that before you apply.  It seems to me they coulda mentioned that at the little presentation they gave on their program back in September.  If there'd been an application fee, I'd definitely be asking for a refund!  Harrumph!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Another application submitted

Just sent off my community-college-to-uni transfer program application.  Getting into the program will guarantee me admission to uni next fall as long as I get my AA with at least a 3.0 GPA.  That one isn't the nail-biter the straight uni application has been.  BTW, they have yet to let me know the verdict on the application I submitted in July.  I had expected to hear by mid-October; they're a bit late getting back to me. :p

Monday, November 02, 2015

Not a great hair day

You know it's not a good hair day when your husband tells you your hair looks like a wig.  You check a mirror and realize he's right - it does look like a wig, and a bad one at that! :D

Sunday, November 01, 2015

My Regency stays are coming along

Had my second fitting this afternoon for my Regency stays.  My seamstress is giving me a very reasonable price because she's never done corsetry before.  She keeps telling me how much fun she's having, though - she's learning so many interesting things in the course of her research (scrimshaw busks, anyone?) and is enjoying learning new techniques.  The first fitting was just a single layer of fabric, to get an idea of where the seams, gussets & boning channels would need to go.  Today she had added a second layer with the busk and some preliminary boning.  It fit remarkably well; this is coming along nicely!

I had asked that it be ready by Thanksgiving so I would have time to make myself a dress (which I can't fit properly without the stays) for a Jan. 9th Twelfth Night ball the Chief & I plan to attend.  She's doing her part; soon it'll be my turn to start sewing.  The fitting scares me - I have NO idea how to make it work - but I know a few people locally who can help.  And even if I don't finish the dress in time for the ball, the Plan B dress I bought at last month's costume sale should do marvelously.  Just need to lower the hem and add some accessories and it'll be ready to go.

Music school audition video is behind me at last!

Last night I uploaded my audition videos to my music school application and sent it off.  Got a little email acknowledgement telling me I should hear back by 23 Dec.  I wasn't thrilled about my recordings, but I'm hoping they'll see enough potential to accept me.  I also hope they won't dismiss me because of my age.

Still waiting to hear whether I've been accepted to uni for the spring.  Maybe this week?  At least I can relax, knowing my Fall 2016 application deadline isn't till March.

Costume party!

The Chief & I didn't hand out candy last night because we had an invitation to a costume party.  He was less than thrilled about getting dressed up - that's my thing, not his - but agreed to wear a few pieces that came together as a pirate costume.  He liked it better when I was able to give him a facial scar (collodion is great stuff for that!).  It was a rush job, done before dinner on the night, but not bad, considering.

My costume was vaguer.  I've got this royal-blue dress which I augmented with a bling-y necklace, a water-color-y scarf with fringed ends that I tied around my head, and a skirt made of tulle strips knotted onto another length of tulle.  I also took some blue, teal & purple eyeshadow and painted swirls on my face and neck.  (Wasn't the greatest make-up job in the world, but I was in a hurry.)  Guesses included the Blue Fairy and Tinkerbell.

Friday, October 30, 2015

It's painful to hear a recording of yourself.

We finished recording my audition video and S is now compressing the files before putting them on my flash drive.  His accompaniment sounds very nice (DMA in piano performance, after all) but I'm not enjoying hearing myself sing.  I was struggling, especially with the Purcell, and I can hear every glitch, every wobbly pitch, every place where my technique is, shall we say, lacking.  I know you're always your own worst critic; I just hope the auditioners are kinder to me than I am to myself.

That's a relief! But "wait" is still a 4-letter word

I had expected to hear by now whether I'd been accepted to uni for the spring semester; still no word. I was getting concerned, largely because the Nov. 1 early-admission deadline for the fall is looming large.  Turns out that's the deadline for freshmen; for transfer students, it isn't until March 1st, so I don't have to worry about reapplying for a few months yet.

In related news, I record my music school audition video tonight!  I'm feeling by turns fatalistic and panicked, calm and nervous.  If I'm not accepted for Fall 2016, I'll just reapply for Fall 2017.  (They only admit new students in the fall.)  Pray for me, and for the Chief, who has to put up with me during this whole process.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I hate apps that nag.

Last night I started my music school application, which just needs my audition videos to be complete.  Today I got an email from the application system titled "Finish your application today", "reminding" me that my application is due soon.  Trust me, little app, I'm painfully aware of the deadline.  Now leave me alone!

Now that's love!

The Chief is what I call a "peanut butter purist" - only eats peanut butter in a sandwich.  He's not interested in peanut butter in any other form (ingredient, flavoring), and thinks peanut butter/chocolate candy (especially peanut butter cups) is an abomination.  Imagine my surprise when I was unloading the groceries today and found he'd bought me a package of not just one, but two, Reese's chocolate-covered peanut butter pumpkins!  He had fun making a big show of shuddering at bringing such "contamination" into the house, but he obviously enjoyed bringing home a little something he knew I'd enjoy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

This is getting real!

Tonight I had my first (and only!) rehearsal with my replacement accompanist.  He's a genial guy, with a doctorate in piano performance.  Not only did he play both my songs with ease, but he followed me well, too.  I recorded him playing both accompaniments so I can work with them at home (as I told him, "so I can take you home with me to practice").  Friday night we record my audition video! =:o  After all these months and months of working these 2 little pieces exclusively, it's hard to believe it's almost over.

I just finished drafting my music school application.  It's ready except for the video files (they want each song as a separate file).  Friday night we'll record, S will do the conversion and load my files onto a flash drive, and I'll upload the files to my application and send that baby on its way!

It'll be a relief to have this behind me after working on these songs for what feels like years.  I've already told my voice teacher I want to take next week off, then work on something, anything, else.   She agreed that that's a good idea; she's probably almost as tired of those pieces as I am.  She suggested we do something she's done with other students in similar situations - bringing in 3 or 4 new songs each week for a few weeks.  We'd give them a quick once-over, I'd take 'em home and work on them a little, we go over them at my next lesson, then pick another few and repeat the process.  Sounds like a relatively painless way to explore new pieces while giving myself a break from the audition pieces that have been eating my musical life for the past several months.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Today's lesson - Soundboard 001

Today my Tech Theater prof had us help the events team setting up for tomorrow's College Enrichment day.  Since I'm going to be running the sound board for next month's college production, I was assigned to the sound designer.  She showed me how she was mic-testing the wireless mics, then had me put fresh batteries into the handheld mics, then sound-check them.  I even got to set the initial levels.  She also showed me how she gave the TV crew a line out and had me set the levels for that feed.  Pretty basic stuff, but it's a start, and of course it also gives me a few grains of familiarity with the board.

Looking forward to being the sound tech for "The Odd Couple"; another skill, however, rudimentary, to add to my repertoire.

That was unexpected!

I was standing in line to get a sandwich between classes today.  The gentleman ahead of me turned to me and asked what I was having.  At the cashier's encouragement ("Are you gonna miss a golden opportunity?"), I let this total stranger buy my lunch.  I haven't any idea who he was; he might have been a professor, but who could tell.  (I've been mistaken for faculty once or twice, just because I'm so much older than the overwhelming majority of the student body.)  The cashier didn't seem too surprised, which leads me to think he's done this at least a few times before.

What a nice little surprise on a chilly, overcast day.  I also found a $5 bill earlier today; this seems to be my lucky day!

Friday, October 23, 2015

What did you do in school today?

This week's stage make-up class was on learning to do bruises, cuts & scars.  We had fun making ourselves look like we'd been in a brawl or were zombies (two classmates are quite experienced - impressive skills!).    My "bruise artwork" wasn't great - I had my colors placed badly so it just looked weird - but it'll improve with practice.

After lunch I reported to the scene shop to get some more shop hours (I have to get 30 hours by the end of the semester).  We had to take down a flat that my Tech Theater class had put up the other day and dismantle it because some of the dimensions were wrong.  We had to close up early, though, as the materials we need to rebuild the flat won't be delivered until next week.  Three quesses what we'll be doing in the shop once that load of lumber arrives...

Past the midterms - whew!

Out of 5 classes that I'm taking this semester, only 2 had any kind of midterm requirement.  My acting class midterm consisted of a) a monologue; b) a paraphrase of said monologue, to be handed in before doing the monologue; and c) considered answers to several questions about the monologue (what's your character, what's that person's relationship to the one(s) they're speaking to, etc.).  The memorization of the monologue was the only scary or challenging piece; the two written parts were a breeze.  We drew numbers to determine the order in which we'd present our monologues.  I traded to get the first ("get it over with quick") slot.  I got out there, started, and quickly realized I was skipping pieces.  I took a deep breath or two and started over, after which it flowed reasonably well.  I don't know how I did, but at least I didn't crash & burn, so I'm optimistic that I got at least a B.  (I have no idea how the grading goes on these things - will we be graded on a curve? based on our improvement since the beginning of the semester? some other criteria?)

My Intro to Theater class had an actual midterm exam, on the history we've covered to date.  I was sweating bullets over that one, not knowing how involved it would be or how much detail we'd need to know.  All I knew, from last week's review, was that there was going to be a long-answer (3-4 paragraphs) essay as about 25% of the exam grade.  The essay questions weren't the ones I'd prepped for (we'd been warned we'd be asked to pick one of 2 topics to write on), but the one I wrote on was a subject I'd reviewed just before we had to put our books & notes away, so I think it went well.  My one problem was that there were 2 short-answer questions on things that I know we never covered in class.  We had to do a short answer "essay" (2-3 sentences) on 5 out of 6 questions.  I suspect he'll have to give everyone credit for one of those, as only 4 of the 6 were on subjects covered in either lectures or online reading assignments.  Aside from that, though, I thought it was a fair test.  I'm much more relaxed now that I've got that behind me and am satisfied with how I did.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


When we had to memorize and present a monologue in my acting class, I had two classmates ask me about memorization tricks and techniques.  (When I told them one trick I'd used to memorize my monologue was to learn it starting at the back, their reactions were entertaining.)  

Then tonight the Chief asked me about memorization.  I warned him that the techniques I use to learn lines and monologues wouldn't necessarily be much help to him with tax court rules and procedures.  He was a bit disappointed but took it well. :)

How strange that all of a sudden I have 3 different people ask me essentially the same thing in the course of just a week or two.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Trying to get the blasted audition video done is even harder than I'd expected.

A few weeks ago I started having problems when singing.  Despite bringing all my best technical skills to bear (breathing? check; posture? yep; placement? good), I would have to stop after half an hour or less.  Even when being careful to sing correctly and not push or anything, my throat would ache as if I'd been blasting away for an all-day sing.  As a result, I put myself on a singing moratorium while I tried to get an appointment with my primary doc so I could get an ENT referral.  this meant cancelling my Oct. 10th appointment to make my music school audition video. :(

Had the ENT appointment today.  I'm OK to start singing again, but I have a lotta ground to make up after not singing at all for 3 weeks!  Now I'm trying to match schedules w/ my accompanist and my friend who offered to do the video, but the accompanist seems to be teaching whenever I'm available to record.

The school of music application deadline is a week from Sunday, so I don't have a lotta leeway here.  I don't have time to find another accompanist - it took weeks to find this one!  If I miss the deadline, I gotta wait another year (they only accept for fall, not spring, semester).  I could have this behind me if only my throat hadn't decided to be uncooperative.  After working for months and months on this audition, I'd really hate to be unable to do it just because we can't get schedules lined up.  Waaahhh!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The down side of online homework

Got back from my reunion/family weekend, tried to do the homework for one of my classes; no dice.  We're supposed to go to a link and watch interviews with 2 actors, but when I followed the link, it only connected to a trailer for one of the interviews.  I can't do my homework!  This is frustrating beyond words!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My first on-camera work

Yesterday I did my first acting for a camera.  My community college's Communications and Theater Dept. was filming a series of vignettes for an in-house PSA and the director tapped some of us from her acting classes and the acting club to be in them.  I had 2 little clips to do.  

In one, I was one of a series of people reading quotes about change.  (Mine was by Maya Angelou: "I've learned you can't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands.  Sometimes you need to throw things back.")  They had me sit on a stool on stage in front of the theater's proscenium curtain and look straight into the camera lens to read my quote "as if you're talking to a friend."  I was amused to see that they actually used one of those clapper boards, although this one looked like it was made out of plastic rather than the wood or slate you see in old movies.

The other bit was an action scene.  I had to enter a hallway from outdoors to find a group of impatient  students waiting outside my office.  When I asked them who they were waiting for, they chorused "You!!!"  I replied, "But no one ever comes during my office hours!", then unlocked the door to my office (actually an empty office).  We ran it several times; first to tweak action, lines, and timing, then for the cameraman to try it with different lighting.

I may never see the results, but it's kinda fun to know it's out there somewhere.

I was also surprised to learn that not just one, but two of "my students" were named Maureen!  That's the first time in a long time that I've met another Maureen, and the first time I've met African Americans with that name. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

I still hate "Company"

The Chief and I went to see a local production of "Company" tonight.  I am not a Sondheim fan, and I don't like any of the music in "Company"; I only went to support a few friends who were in it.  Neither one of us liked the show, which is pretty dated.  The one thing I did like was Joann's "Here's to the Ladies Who Lunch".  This Joann delivered it with all the bitterness it needed - well done!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A string of good lessons - I think I'm getting this!

Had another good voice lesson today.  I continue to hit snags, still have a few places where I'm trying to work out the technical things (phrasing, breath control - the usual), but it all feels much more solid and much easier.  As I told my teacher this afternoon, I think I'm finally getting the hang of this business. :)  Seems like I'm thinking about and applying the latest technique I'm working on even when I'm not working on my lesson music (i.e., at church or in "Mattress" rehearsals). 

My two uni audition pieces are far enough along that they're ready for a second opinion.  A previous voice teacher lives near (and was the one who sent me to) my current teacher, so at C's recommendation, we've asked K to sit in on the 2nd half of my lesson next week so she can hear my audition pieces and offer suggestions.  It's been a long time since she's heard me sing; I'm looking forward to showing her my progress.

Tomatoes! And other food

The cherry tomato plant (Sweet 100 variety) is really coming into its own - we've got about 2 cups of little red gems sitting on the counter waiting to grace a relish tray on Saturday, with more tomatoes expected to join them in the next few days.  The grape tomatoes have also been ripening; it's just that the other plant is so very prolific, it makes this one look like an underachiever, even though it's already produced more tomatoes than I got off my container-grown plant all last summer.  I've mostly resisted snacking on the tomatoes, but it's hard - they're just so good!

TW and I are having an open house Saturday afternoon.  It's been 21 years since I bought the house (!), so maybe we could consider it a coming-of-age party for the house?  (Of course, the house is much older than 21, having been built in the 1920s.)  I spent most of yesterday & today making party food - triple batch of hummus, double batch of dill dip, triple batch of salmon spread, triple batch of brownies, double batch of muesli cookies and gluten-free peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies.   We'll also do a deluxe veggie tray and a full batch (makes about a gallon, by actual measurement) of "awesome salsa", which has black beans, corn, and other goodies in it.  The lovely thing about making this kind of party food is that we can have leftovers for dinner and know that it's all good for us (well, except for the brownies & pb-choc chip cookies; even the muesli cookies are pretty healthy).

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Last music-only rehearsal

Last night was our first music-only rehearsal in about a month, and our last until we get to the Sitzprobe in a few weeks (!).  I was reminded of the difference between doing this for a musical vs. an operetta.  Operettas tend to attract a LOT of trained singers, with the rest of us being amateurs with a lot of choir experience, all of whom can read music at least a little.  In community musical theater, on the other hand, you get a much wider range, from trained singers and instrumentalists to those who learn only by ear, or can carry a tune but have trouble holding their musical line when the people around them are singing something different.  That means a lot more time spent woodshedding parts.  I think that's at least one of the reasons we lost one of our ensemble members - didn't understand why others had so much trouble learning music he got on the first or second run-through.

So yes, in an ideal world we wouldn't need to spend nearly so much time on the music, but this is community theater, where the performers have day jobs.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Sometimes our good deeds do come back to "haunt" us

Yesterday I finally managed to line up an audition accompanist - hurray!  Better, she's someone I already know, as she directed a show I was in 4 or 5 years ago.  I also gave her daughter rides to several "Yeomen" rehearsals and performances last year.  Because of that good deed, D quoted me a rate for 4 hours of her time that is only slightly more than I pay for a 1-hour voice lesson - a very friendly rate indeed!  I told her that her daughter had already given me a thank you gift for the rides, but "this is from a very grateful mother."  Happy to oblige!

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Here come the tomatoes...

Our two tomato plants (cherry, Sweet 100 variety; grape, Santa variety) have been thriving - the Sweet 100 is quite bushy and at least 6' tall!  Both now have a dozen or more clusters of little green tomatoes on them.  We harvested the first few tomatoes a week or so ago, and have been getting at least 4 or 5 a day the past few days.  Looks like those numbers will start rising steeply pretty soon, though, given the dozens of little greenies that are getting paler by the day and starting to turn orange.

These are doing SO much better than when I tried growing tomatoes in containers on the deck - we've already harvested more than we got all last summer.

Better yet, the replacement zucchini plant seems to be thriving.  I'd be delighted if we actually manage to get a zucchini off the thing before the weather turns colder.

I've got my books!

My books for the semester (well, all but one) arrived from Amazon the other day.  I could wish they'd bothered to put the box between the main door and storm door, as it was raining and my box was wet, but fortunately the books weren't damaged.  I got a better deal from another vendor for one of the books so that one is still en route.  Ordering online was cheaper than getting them from the school's bookstore; I managed to save about $78 with the sales tax.  (It helped, of course, that I already owned one of the books for my Intro to Stage Make-up class.)

They're all sitting on a shelf together, just waiting for classes to start 3 weeks from Monday.  Well, for two of them to start that week.  The other three don't start until 3 weeks later; odd schedule!

Again with the waiting game

Last night I reapplied to uni, this time for the Spring 2016 semester.  Aug. 1st is their early-admission deadline application; those of us who make that deadline will hear by mid-October whether we're in.  Sure would be a nice birthday present to get the electronic equivalent of the fat envelope this time.  (The last time I was going through the college admissions process, a thin envelope contained  "thanks but no thanks" letter, while a fat envelope contained a "welcome to our institution" letter and a packet of forms to fill out for financial aid, housing, orientation, etc.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It's official!

I spent much too long this morning waiting to see an advisor (confluence of mis- and non-communications), but eventually I got myself all signed up for classes for the fall!  The book list is already on line, so I ordered all my books, too.  (I was pleasantly surprised to see that I already own the book required for the Stage Make-up class.)

Unless a discussion with someone in the Theater department causes me to rethink, I'm going to be taking Acting I, Technical Theater, Fundamentals of Movement, Fundamentals of Script Analysis, and Intro to Stage Make-up.  This semester is gonna be so much fun!  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Now for Plan B

I finally heard back - the university doesn't have a space for me in this fall's class.  (The Chief wondered aloud how many transfer student spaces went to out-of-state students, who of course pay higher tuition.)  Not what I wanted to hear, of course, but at least now I know how to plan.  Tomorrow I'll work on my application for the spring semester and send my draft community college schedule to my contact in the university's Theater department to see how many of the classes will transfer.  Depending on her response, I'll get myself signed up and start back-to-school shopping. :)

The university has an arrangement with local community colleges whereby you can get university credit for community college classes.  I'll start looking into that tomorrow, too.

I'll have to commute a bit further, then deal with transferring if and when the university sees fit to admit me, but at least I'll still be going back to school.  The Chief has offered to buy me a Cinderella lunchbox in honor of the occasion. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Any day now...

Now that we're into mid-July, it's getting harder and harder not to check my email almost compulsively for something letting me know whether I've been admitted for the fall semester.  Yep, "wait" is still a 4-letter word.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Zucchini 1.2

The first zucchini plant died pretty definitely, so Wednesday the Chief and I put in a new one.  He took some scrap lumber and built a frame to create the mound they recommend when planting zucchini.  He also had me filter the dirt going into the hole to make sure there were no grubs.  We filtered  2 or 3 cubic feet of dirt and only found a few grubs, but at least those grubs will not be attacking the new zucchini plant.

It's probably much too late in the season to be planting zucchini, but hope springs eternal. :)

At least we don't have to worry about keeping it watered.  With all the rain we've been getting (25 of the past 36 days), I'm more concerned that it doesn't get washed away!

Not the fabric I meant to buy

The Chief and I took a day trip to Amish country on the way to a birthday party last weekend.  He wanted to look at furniture, I wanted to look for fabric for that cloak pattern I bought.  I did find some Christmas-red wool, but at $21 a yard, I decided to keep looking.  I wasn't really surprised to find that, this being quilt country, 99.99% of the fabric on offer was quilt fabric.  In one such shop, the Chief ran into Irene, a Mennonite quilt saleswoman par excellence.  She had him helping her peel back quilt after quilt in a big stack, told us the name of each pattern, pointed out all the features (different types of work, "every stitch sewn by hand") that made them special.  Funniest was that she kept warning us that if we didn't buy this or that quilt, someone else would.  She got to the Chief; we walked out of there with not just one but two quilts, when we weren't planning to buy any!  However, he did show his own shopping skills by asking if we could get a discount, since we were buying two quilts.  We didn't get the markdown he asked for, but we did get one.

We stopped at one last fabric store on our way to our hotel, where the Chief picked out some flannel for another pair of flannel lounge pants.  I also bought some lavender dotted cotton to use for the mock-up for my first Regency dress.  I figure if my maiden effort goes together reasonably well, I'll end up with two dresses - the practice model and the "real" one. :)

Friday, July 03, 2015

Getting a little ahead of myself

I'm already starting to costume myself for a Christmas caroling group I haven't even auditioned for yet, and which only asks women to provide a "Victorian" blouse.  I checked their website, decided they're going for a vaguely Dickensian look, and the hunt was on.

The first pattern I ordered, which arrived yesterday, was Folkwear #205, the Gibson Girl blouse:

Folkwear Gibson Girl Blouse Sewing Pattern #205 Sm-3XL  Retro Early 20th Century

I also ordered Butterick 5266, for the cloak.  I may or may not ever get around to making it, but if I want a mid-19th-century cloak, I've now got a pattern that will suit admirably.  (However, I'd probably change the closure to something a little less labor-intensive than all those tabs.)

B5266 , Misses' Historical Costume 

But the purchase I'm most excited about is the one no one will see.  It's a corded petticoat (worn in the 1830s-50s, before the invention of the hoop, to make skirts stand out and achieve more of a bell shape), much of which is handsewn!  It just arrived today.  I'll need to add a small extender to the waist but that's a trivial adjustment, and MUCH quicker & easier than sewing one of these from scratch! Because it's used and has a couple of tiny spots near the waistband, the price was eminently reasonable.
Early Victorian Corded Petticoat for Pre-Hoop Gowns and Dresses, 1840's, 1850's, 1860's

Now all I have to do is come up with an audition recording to submit and hope my voice is what they're looking for.  If so, I'm already half dressed! :D

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Amusing recipe instruction

The Chief sent me a link to a lamb dish that I plan to try sometime soon.  The recipe happens to includes prunes among its ingredients.  In reading over the directions (I'm learning to do that before diving in, to avoid starting something that's going to take a lot more time than I have), I saw this instruction:  "assess your prunes"!  They want you to see if they look a bit dried out, but the wording makes me chuckle, as if they're undergoing some sort of medical or other inspection.

Don't remind me!

The Chief happened to mention today that I should be hearing in the next 2 or 3 weeks whether the university accepted me.  I really could have done without the reminder, as it just makes the waiting that much harder. :(

"Bad singing day", but productive voice lesson

We worked on both my audition pieces today.  "Mandoline" was challenging because, despite warming up, the voice was working hard to do what I wanted.  Even putting it down a whole step didn't help.  "Vouchsafe, O Lord", which sits a little lower, wasn't quite as bad but still an effort.

However, I still managed to make some technical progress:  I suddenly consciously realized the difference in "feel" between the way I've been breathing and taking a proper breath, using my sides & back; and I actually felt how activating the zygomatic arch frees up my sound.  My teacher was pleased with what we accomplished technically, even if I was having what she called a "bad singing day".  It's always a good sign when your teacher lights up; means you're actually achieving what she's trying to get you to do. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Good for my ego

Got a Facebook message this afternoon from one of the women in the first production for which I did hair & make-up, nearly 2 years ago.  She's producing a play that'll run this fall and wanted to know if I'd design hair & make-up for it, or even audition for it (nine roles for women 40+!).  It's quite far - probably 25+ miles one way - but more importantly, it opens a week after Mattress does, so no way.  When I offered to send her names of other hair & make-up people, she said she was looking for an excuse to work with me again. Given that I didn't really work with the cast that much - came to a couple of rehearsals, then worked with them during Tech Week through Opening Night, then didn't show up again until strike - it is very good for my ego to realize that I managed to make such a good impression on at least one cast member. :)

A few notes on last Friday's concert

Last Friday I sang in a benefit concert that R organized.  Six women (5 singers and our VERY gifted accompanist), so R had all of us wear black dresses.  I had a great little vintage number, which I took to the run-through to get some opinions on which jewelry to wear with it.  Unfortunately, the zipper broke when I went to put it on.  I mean really broke - a few zipper teeth broke off.  Vintage, remember, and this was obviously the original zipper.  Yike!  I ran out and made an emergency purchase of a back-up LBD, in case the local dry cleaner's tailor couldn't replace the zipper in time.  Fortunately, the tailor came through for me (and replaced the silver zipper with a black one - even better!) so I could wear my smashing little vintage number.  Good thing, as my Plan B dress was the very same one R was wearing!

We had fun singing, the program had a good variety, and the audience seemed to enjoy it.  I was even sounded out afterward by someone prospecting for potential Ms. Senior (neighboring state) contestants!  I had a good chuckle over that - I NEVER considered entering a beauty contest!!!  The Chief thinks I should consider looking into our state's program once I hit 60 (the minimum eligible age).

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Still waiting to hear about my university application.  The closer it gets to when I can first hope to hear, the harder it gets to wait.  In the meantime, I've already drafted a class schedule for Fall 2015 at the community college, just in case.  Eager, much? ;)

I'm also waiting for a choral acquaintance to get back from vacation.  He's got a recording studio in his basement and is willing to help me make my audition video.  Once he gets home, recovers from jetlag, and gets a chance to check his calendar, he'll give me some dates for a recording session.  Then I can work on lining up an audition accompanist.

So many things to juggle to make this happen!  I need to find out how long he needs to refine the video after the recording session - don't want to rush him to meet the application deadline!  I may want to schedule my rehearsal(s) with my accompanist fairly close to the recording date, to maximize the time I have to learn and polish my audition pieces, or maybe I should have two rehearsals, spaced a week or more apart, so I can work on any suggestions in at least one lesson before the 2nd rehearsal.  The timing of all these will determine how much time I really have to work on these pieces.  Gonna be a busy summer!

Tomatoes! Zucchini?

The Chief made sure I noticed last night that our 2 little cherry tomato plants have tiny little green tomatoes on them!  Fingers crossed that they'll produce like crazy!

The surviving zucchini plant is doing well, too.  I just hope I don't find out, oh, this fall that zucchini are supposed to be planted in pairs so they pollinate.  (Sister3 learned that last month when she bought blueberry plants at the farmers' market.)

Benefit concert

A theater friend has organized a small concert with silent auction as a fundraiser for a local charity.  She's invited me and a few other women she's performed with to sing and has lined up a wonderful accompanist as well.  She has asked all of us to wear black dresses so she can call this an LBD benefit.

We've had individual rehearsals with the accompanist, and we had a run-through yesterday with all of us.  The program has a very interesting assortment - broadway, opera, G&S, cabaret - lots of variety, well presented.  I just hope people come!  (I'm nervous about that only because I live far enough away from the church hosting the concert that none of my church choir, for example, would want to go.)

I'm a little sad about the line-up, only because my pieces (1 solo, 1 duet (from G&S' Patience), 1 trio ("Three Little Maids from School") are all in the first half.  Then no more singing for me!  However, there's plenty of great music to listen to; that'll have to console me. :)

I took my dress with me yesterday because I wanted some input on which jewelry to wear with it.  As I was putting it on, though, the zipper broke.  I mean, really broke, as in broken teeth!  (It's a lovely vintage dress and this is the original zipper.)  I plan to take it to the cleaner's tomorrow to see if their alterations person can replace the zipper by Friday.  The dress' bodice has a lot of shirring and a waist seam, though, so this would be even more problematic than a "normal" zipper replacement.  Yesterday I went out and bought a back-up dress.  Managed to find a Jones New York dress for just $20!  Not fancy, but it'll look great with pearls, so if I can't wear my first choice, I have a good back-up.

My husband, friend to turtles

The Chief & I were out at the cabin last week.  One day, as we were heading out to run some errands, we spotted something in the road.  Turned out to be a box turtle with its head stretched out toward the side of the road.  The Chief stopped and we waited while our reptilian friend made its way to the vegetation on the side of the road (more quickly than we expected).  Traffic coming the other way slowed to see why we were stopped.  One driver gave the Chief a thumbs-up when she realized why he was stopped.

We still wonder how that turtle is faring, hoping it hasn't encountered a less patient driver.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Free plants!

The newest addition to the garden - some hen-and-chicks.  The Chief & I set out for a walk - stopped at the post office to mail a few things, got coffee at the local "roasterie", and wandered about the neighborhood admiring people's gardens.  As we were a couple of blocks from home, we passed a woman pulling grass out of her rock garden.  She was also thinning the hen-and-chicks she'd planted there and offered us some.  We didn't have a bag, so I cupped my hands together and she filled 'em up.  I got them planted and am hoping they'll fill up some holes in the bed along the sidewalk so the weeds don't try to take over again.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Excellent judge of character?

... or too trusting for her mother's cardiac health?  The Chief and I sat across from a woman and her 2 little ones on the rental car shuttle on our way to the family graduations.  The 4-year-old, all curls & big eyes, was very chatty, which of course the Chief loved.  He didn't get to chat with her long, though, as it's only about a 5-minute ride.  Saturday afternoon, as I was waiting in line to board and the Chief was off searching for a restroom,  I spotted a familiar family.  Little Miss Curly-locks obviously recognized me, as she lit up and ran at me full tilt with her arms open wide for a hug!  Naturally, I couldn't disappoint the dear thing, though I quickly released her, not wanting to make her mother nervous.  The poor woman smiled a bit sheepishly and said "She's very friendly!"  I commented that the girl obviously recognized me from the rental car shuttle the week before, hoping to reassure Mom a little that I wasn't a complete stranger to her little girl.  That's a tough balancing act - you don't want your kids to be afraid to talk to people, but you don't want them to be too trusting, either.

That's this year's batch of family graduations

Three nephews are now graduated - congratulations, gentlemen!  V, I hope your freshman year will be a relatively smooth transition.  J, best of luck on your job hunt.  S, may your roll continue at your new institution in the fall.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

First college graduation in the family

Today my godson received his B.A. (Classical languages), making him the first of that generation of our family to earn a college degree.  Beautiful day for it, despite a wind that sometimes had hats, gowns, etc., blowing wildly.  The keynote speaker gave an excellent commencement address, the transcript for which I hope will be available on line for future reference.  The ceremony closed with the singing of the alma mater, the cheer, and the fight song.  Great fun!

It was interesting to see what was the same as my graduation from the same institution, and what had changed (e.g., the fancy-schmancy electronic scoreboard, on which we saw J and his friend as they started into the procession).  I also couldn't help wondering what the commencement festivities are like at the institution where I hope to be enrolling this fall. :)

Had another nephew graduate from high school Thursday night.  He'll be attending his dad's alma mater in the fall - the other state university.  As I teased both him and his dad, I suppose someone needed to try to balance the distribution in the family. :D

Friday, May 15, 2015

The sparrows have figured it out!

A week after the Chief & I brought home the new bird feeder, the sparrows not only have it figured out, but seem to have claimed it as their own.  They're certainly the most frequent, and greediest, visitors.  The cardinals have stopped by to check out the feeder, but don't seem to stay long at all.  And the bird feeder seems to be making good on its claim to be squirrel-proof - the squirrels I've seen have contented themselves with eating what the birds drop on the ground.  Or maybe the sparrows have been "discouraging" the squirrels from poaching on the sparrows' territory... :)

The feeder holds 3 or 4 lbs. of birdseed.  The level wasn't moving much at all until last night; it's dropped quite a bit since then.  I wonder how long it would take the sparrows to empty it completely - if we go on vacation for a week, will the greedy little things empty the bird feeder long before we get back?

I was amused to see that a black bird in the raven/crow family had a different feeding technique than the sparrows, which park on one of the 4 perches and chow down.  This black bird would perch, take a piece, hop to the adjacent fence, and eat its morsel.  Then it would go back to the perch, take another piece, and go back to the fence to eat it.  It's taller than the sparrows, so the feeding hole is not at its beak level; maybe it's too awkward or uncomfortable to sit on the perch and eat.

Scenes from a busy day

Had a good day Wednesday, saw some interesting things:
  • City employees planting coleus and begonies in beds at the foot of some city trees.  I was so busy examining the plants that I walked right past my destination, had to double back.
  • On public transit 3 times; each time I saw more law enforcement personnel in mostly casual clothing (e.g., T-shirts or polo shirts with the logo of their unit) wearing badges with a black band.  Turned out there was a memorial service downtown for National Police Week.
  • The usual array of characters - folks in T-shirts and shorts, or business suits, parents with kids of various ages, and the crazy lady (me!) juggling a tote bag (purse, book & water bottle), shopping bag, and bakery box with the results of my cooking class.  Yes, the baked goods arrived safely home. :)
Had a heckuva time figuring out how to get from the subway to my cooking class because the street exit dumped me two blocks away from where I thought it would.  It took me at least half an hour to find my way through and around the intervening mall (which was undergoing a lot of construction, which shut down at least one of the main exits) and the adjacent parking garage.

The pie class was so much fun!  Only 6 of us, and everyone had good questions so I learned a lot.  We also learned from seeing how the chef-instructor finessed an "oops" (the crust & ganache for the black-bottom banana cream pie took a header out of the freezer).  The resulting black-bottom banana pudding was delicious!  I like people-watching at that store - they get yuppies, military types, younger people, retirees (like me!), people who know exactly what they want, don't have a clue, or just want to browse the "toy store".

I got my hair cut quite short - a "summer cut".  It's the shortest I've worn it since, I think, my senior year in high school, short enough that it'll take a little getting used to, but I love it - so easy to take care of, and so cool!

The "Mattress" read-through was fun.  Only had about half the cast, but we got thru most of the dialogue & music to get a feel for the show.  This is gonna be fun!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

This year's garden

I went off to the nursery on Mother's Day and came home with
  • a red begonia and assorted portulaca for the "mailbox bed";
  • 2 varieties of lavender for the corner of the house where the squash failed;
  • coreopsis, rudbeckia and a "blanket flower" (gaillardia) for the now-sunny patch out front;
  • a red geranium, white petunia & blue lobelia for the single railing planter;
  • dianthus, lantana and phlox for the double railing planter (in reds, pinks & whites - it already looks like a valentine!);
  • rosemary, basil and parsley; and
  • two varieties of cherry tomato and a zucchini plant (fingers crossed that no squash borers find it!).
Yesterday the Chief & I went back to the nursery so he could pick out what he wants for the shed.  We got a dutchman's pipe for the trellis (nurseryman: "if you're really lucky, it'll attract pipevine swallowtails") and begonias and new guinea impatiens for the windowboxes.

I got most of these in the ground (or planter) today, and came into the house filthy from head to toe.  As I was getting ready for my post-garden shower, I had to laugh - I had a big smudge on my forehead that made it look as though I'd just been to church to get ashes! :D 

I got a lot done, but had to quit before I got the tomatoes, squash, and 4 of the 6 phlox plants in the ground.  Won't have time for that tomorrow (see earlier post), so that'll be Thursday's gardening project.  Gonna be fun!

A busy day in the life of a retiree

Taking advantage of having my weekdays open, I may have overdone things just a bit.  Tomorrow I have a haircut appointment at 11, a pastry class in a different part of town (accessible by public transit, fortunately!) from 2:30-4:30, and the first read-through for Once Upon a Mattress at 7:30.  I'm looking forward to all of these, and they aren't scheduled so close together that I'll be lucky not to be late, but they're sufficiently scattered geographically that I know I'll be oh, so happy to get out of my car for good when I get home after the read-through.

Happy 10th anniversary to me (a bit late)

I've now had my blog for 10 years as of last month - April 11th, 2005, saw my first-ever blog post.  I don't cover certain topics (I try to avoid politics, for example) but if you're interested in theater, gardening, or cooking, I hope you've been at least mildly entertained.

Since playing Pitti-Sing, my first lead, I've done 2 more G&S leads (Ruth in Pirates of Penzance and Dame Carruthers in The Yeomen of the Guard) and nice, meaty roles in several plays (biggest were Sara Lee Turnover in Daddy's Dyin', Who's Got the Will? and Veta Louise Simmons in Harvey).  I'm still taking voice lessons and working on my technique, and am now looking to become a Theater major this fall and a Voice major next fall.

The Chief and I still have the cabin and are looking forward to longer, mid-week trips there now that I'm retired.  I also have spent a larger percentage of time in the kitchen trying new recipes.  My issues of Cook's Country will now get a closer reading. :)  Today I spent well over 3 hours out in the garden planting most of the flowers we bought yesterday and Sunday.  So lovely to have the whole week for that, not just Saturdays & Sundays!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Grocery shopping a deux

Tomorrow the Chief & I are going grocery shopping together.  This will be interesting; this has been primarily his purview since he retired over 6 years ago, though I retained primary responsibility for drawing up the grocery list.  He has proposed dividing the list, taking opposite sides of the commissary, so we can get outta there that much sooner.  All well and good, but I suspect he'll finish first, being more familiar with the commissary's layout.  I'm not really worried, though; we came to an understanding about packing suitcases, we'll work this one out too. :)

My next show - "Once Upon a Mattress"

This audition round was a tough one - I went into it Monday night with a touch of laryngitis (thank you so much, tree pollen!), started my monologue and drew a blank just 1 or 2 lines into it.  But I managed to sing decently, and pulled off my monologue when I restarted.  The dance combo was a short, very easy one - just 3 sets of 8.  I obviously didn't do badly, as I was called back the next night.  I was one of seven candidates for Queen Aggravain, and I know at least 2 of the "competition" are strong performers, so I wasn't exactly surprised when I didn't get the role.  I didn't get cast as any of the named ladies in waiting, either, presumably because those went to young women.  'S OK; I'll have fun in the ensemble, and I've already offered my assistance to the costumer.

Friday, May 01, 2015

"So long, it's been good to know ya"

That's it - I'm now retired!  ID handed in, IT with instructions to turn off my accounts tonight, and done!  I was all smiles right up to the second I dropped my badge in the box on the way out and blew the building a goodbye kiss; suddenly I got all teary - quite surprised me!  I suppose it shouldn't have, given that I've worked there since graduating from college, and I do tend to get sentimental.  I just wonder how long it'll take for it to sink in that I'm not just on vacation, that I'm actually retired and not going back.

My immediate plans are pretty basic - I really need to dig into the library/sewing room/music room/junk room and try to make some order out of chaos.  I'll start that next week.  I've reached out to a couple of organizations to volunteer, and of course I plan to start back to school in late August.  I'll probably start with a light schedule, just 12 hours, while I learn a new way to study.  Oh, and I've got an audition Monday night - wish me luck! :)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My last week!

Hard to believe that tomorrow starts my LAST week of work!  And it won't be a terribly productive one.  A coworker is also retiring at the end of the week, so the office has planned a luncheon for him on Tuesday, one for me on Wednesday, and an open house for both of us on Thursday.  Friday I'll have an exit interview, take one last pass thru the office to say my farewells, stop by the "corporate massage" vendor to have a few knots untied, then leave my ID at the door on the way out.

It's been a good ride.  Not without its bumps, of course, but on the whole, a good trip.  Will I miss it?  Sure - I had fun.  But boy, am I looking forward to going back to school and turning myself loose in the candy store they call the Performing Arts Center! :D

Sometimes the waiting is easy; sometimes it isn't

I've been busy enough at work (this will be my LAST week!) that I haven't had time to think about waiting to hear about my school admission.  Tonight, though, the Chief & I had dinner at a favorite place on the edge of campus.  Naturally, that reminded me.  I won't hear about my admission until July and the School of Music won't take applications for Fall '16 until August, so I've got a few months of waiting ahead of me.  I'm really hoping I get cast in the show I'm auditioning for next week, if only because learning music & lines (if I get Queen Aggravain) will keep me plenty busy well into the summer.

Voice is better, but definitely still feeling the pollen

Church this morning wasn't quite as bad as last week.  I had another chance at the responsorial I was supposed to lead last week.  Then, I could tell by the 2nd note that my voice was too far gone; today I got all the way to the verse before I realized I'd have to have someone else take it.  Still no power, and my lower register is unpredictable.  The passaggio notes are mostly still shot, and there's a band of notes on either side that are "cats", not "dogs" - in other words, they come and go as they please, instead of doing what I tell them to do.  And it doesn't take much talking for me to feel my voice going hoarse and my throat getting achey.

My voice teacher told me to let her know tomorrow evening how I'm doing; that would determine whether I have to cancel this week's lesson.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Just signed up for my first daytime thing!

One of the obvious perks of retirement is being able to do fun stuff during a weekday, not just evenings and weekends.  I just signed up for an afternoon pie class.  I'll get to spend a couple of hours playing in the cookware store's teaching kitchen and be home in plenty of time for dinner.  Gotta love it!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

We have candidates.

At last week's lesson we finally selected three pieces for my School of Music auditions.  Two are 17th century pieces, one each in English (Purcell) and Italian (Cesti).  The other is a 19th-century French chanson by Faure.  Current plan, which is very much subject to change, is to do the Purcell and Faure for the recorded audition, then swap the Cesti for the Purcell for the live audition.  Now the work begins in earnest - memorization, learning to pronounce the Italian, mastering the timing in the Purcell, making sure I understand the French & Italian texts, and working all of it into the voice.  That's a lot to do, so it's a good thing the audition recording isn't due until Nov. 1st.

And there goes the voice...

My annual pollen-induced laryngitis started today.  I was fine until I walked out the front door this morning and made the mistake of breathing.  Warming up in the shower was no worse than it ever is first thing in the morning, but on the way to church I could tell I was in trouble.  We went over a couple of things that are usually fun but today were a lot of work, and my passagio was a mess.  I was supposed to lead the responsorial, but just one measure into it I could tell that wasn't gonna happen, so someone else had to take it.  Good thing we're blessed with so many good singers, across all voice parts; we all have at least one person who can cover for us in a pinch, even if not in the same octave.

My poor vocal cords are so swollen I broke down and took some ibuprofen for them.  Which helped, but I still sound like I have a lower respiratory infection.  (Which I suppose I do, in a way.) I've already canceled this week's voice lesson, since tree pollen season lasts rather longer than a day.  I just hope it ends SOON - I hate having to cancel a voice lesson with a theater audition coming up in a couple of weeks and School of Music audition pieces to learn and work up.  I'm also supposed to be the national anthem soloist at a retirement ceremony at work in about 10 days - I really need to be able to sing by then!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

April fool!

Mother Nature had her little April fool's joke on us yesterday.  We all had to scrape ice off our windshields before going to work.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Voice lesson in which all I did was talk

I came down w/ a cold over the weekend so a voice lesson seemed a bit pointless today.  However, given that I want to start preparing soonest for my School of Music audition, I didn't want to lose a week, so my teacher & I ended up doing a Skype lesson.  Saved me an extended drive in rush-hour traffic, and she didn't have to be exposed to my germs in the run-up to Easter.  I told her what I'd learned about the Music program yesterday, and we discussed possible audition pieces.  She gave me the name of a studio where I can get my audition recorded so I can call about pricing, and also the names of two recent students who used the same accompanist for their auditions.  I'm hoping one or both will respond shortly with contact info so I can find out what he charges and get a rough idea of when he'd be available. (My own availability will depend on my class schedule this fall, which I obviously won't know until late August.)

Current goals for the audition:
- learn and polish 4 audition pieces: 2 for the video audition, and 2 to have available for the live audition;
- between now and fall, work on 2 or 3 songs from the 26 Italian Art Songs book to add to the "significant solo repertoire" list I'm supposed to submit with my SOM application
- keep reminding myself that the other applicants are high school students, who haven't been taking voice or performing as long as I have. Heck, they weren't even alive when I started this stuff! :D

Monday, March 30, 2015

Wow. Just, wow.

After touring the music & theater departments and seeing the spectacular performing arts facility they have access to, I was ready to start classes right that red-hot second!  However, I restrained myself and waited until tonight to submit my application.  Now to sit back, cross my fingers, and wait for the emails to go out sometime in early July.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Back-to-school update

Tomorrow I'm going to school instead of work - I have appointments with people in the Music & Theater depts.  I'm finishing up my list of major questions, and I'm sure I'll think of more as I talk to them.  I just hope the predicted rain ends before I finish my first appointment so I'm not schlepping across campus in the rain.

Last night I sent out the first draft of my essay to family & friends who've recently had kids go through that ritual.  Waiting to hear what typos they catch for me and whether they have any editorial suggestions.  Most of them are church musicians, so Palm Sunday is a busy day for them.  Maybe I'll start getting responses tomorrow...

Winter's going down fighting

This winter flatly refuses to yield easily to spring.  Yesterday's highs were only in the high 30s, and we even had a lot of snow flurries.  This morning it's only 29 degrees - brrr!  So much for wearing a skirt to church for Palm Sunday.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tryng to get the Regency project back on track

Someone on Facebook posted a link to a blog post giving a checklist for a complete Regency outfit.  I commented on FB that I'd love to put such an outfit together but needed a set of long stays.  The costumer for Daddy's Dyin' sawmy comment and shot her hand up, saying she'd love to try it.  She admits she's never made stays but if I'm willing to "tolerate [her] learning curve", she'll be happy to have a go.  Tomorrow I'll probably go over to her house w/ my pattern & busk and let her take a first batch of measurements.  I have no clue how long this will take - she wants to make a first draft in muslin while she learns the techniques - but maybe I'll have stays that actually fit me by Christmas.  I can finish the chemise while J is making the stays.  Once I have the stays, I'll be able to start on the dress.

This project is taking a whole lot longer than anticipated, but finding someone willing to make those stays was probably my biggest hurdle.  Done!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I don't feel like a high school senior and yet...

I'm taking Monday off work so I can go to campus and get Music and Theater tours and visits.  Between the two appointments, I'll probably stop into the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for a little chat, then see what lunch options are available at the student union.  Tonight I started working on a first draft of my college essay.  Funny, I don't feel like a high school senior, yet here I am with essays, applications and campus visits.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Slow, incremental progress on the college application front

Today I got an email from the U School of Music (SoM) responding to all my questions about the audition pieces.  That  information and a few music books (one each of arias, oratorios and chansons) will go with me to tomorrow's music lesson.  We might not get a lot of singing done, but identifying audition candidates is every bit as important right now.  Once we have the finalists, then we can start working them into shape for my audition recording.

I left a voice mail asking about scheduling a SoM visit and also put it in my response to the SoM's email about audition selections.  I noted I'd like to schedule something soon and listed several dates, starting this Thursday.  Me, eager?  Whatever gave you that impression?!? :D

Ideally, I'll be able to schedule the Music and Theater visits for the same day so I'll only have to take one day off work.  (I can't bear to wait until after my May 1st retirement date.)

I just sent off requests for letters of recommendation:  one to a favorite director, for the Undergraduate Admissions folks; the other to K,  a former voice teacher and another favorite director, for the SoM.  K responded immediately with an "Absolutely!"  I'll ask my current voice teacher, C, to write the second SoM letter; C and K would be my "dream team", as one can give the current state of vocal affairs, while the other can address how I've grown vocally in the 15+ years since I first started taking with her.

The one thing tempering my enthusiasm is the language used to describe the application requirements.  It sounds a bit intimidating:

All undergraduate applicants should submit a repertoire list, showing the most significant solo repertoire you have studied for your primary instrument or voice. Please include technical studies where appropriate (Include both title and composer.)  From memory: Two contrasting songs chosen from solo vocal literature (songs or arias of composers such as Gluck, Handel, Purcell, Mozart, Schubert, Faure, Barber, or Rorem). Musical theater songs or self-accompanied “pop” songs are not acceptable for the prescreen recording or a live audition.
Bouncing with excitement - now if only the SoM would reopen the online application for Fall 2016 so I can get started... :D