Thursday, December 31, 2009

209 in 2009

This is my last post of 2009. It is my 209th post of the year.

To all my readers, may you have a blessed and happy New Year. May all your dreams come true, or at least may your move toward making those dreams come true.

To those who are sad and lonely, look to your friends to be there for you. Reach out to others, doing for your fellow man can bring a light into your lonely world.

For all, be happy, healthy and may this year be a good one for you all!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Christmas Carol--Part 1

The Hawthorne Players of Florissant, MO. presented Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" on Dec. 20-22, 2009. This was the second time this show was presented by this group, the first presentation was in 2007.

The story was adapted and directed by Nancy Crouse. She also designed the set. I designed the costumes, and constructed many of them. We saved the costumes from 2007 and were successful in recruiting most of the original cast to play the parts. This year, I had to remake about 20% of the costumes. Those little kids grew a lot in 2 years! Plus, we had some new actors and actresses involved in this show.

Paul James played Scrooge, growing facial hair and shaving his head and beard to make him look very authentic as Scrooge. Marley was a new actor, he also played the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come--Paul Luft was the actor. We also got a new Tiny Tim, as our last Tim got too big to be tiny! Thomas Yonke played this role, and sang like an angel!

Judy Yordon played the Grandmother, and Ken Clark played Old Joe. Both added their many years of stage presentations to do an excellent job in their part. Ken made himself up as Old Joe, he was unrecognizable by those who knew him best! Great job, Ken! Judy's many years as a theatre professor, specializing in oral interprettion, made her vital role of setting the scene clear to the audience.

I was also in the cast, making costuming and playing parts a double-juggle job. I guess it all worked out OK.

PROLOGUE

Judy as Grandmother, reads to her grandchildren on Christmas Eve. She chose the story "A Christmas Carol" to read to them, because they wanted stories that had romance, ghosts, adventure--this story has all of those elements.

The carolers mark the beginning and a running theme through out the entire show by singing "Carol of the Bell"--as the bell tolls to mark the passage of the hours.

Female and children carolers walk across stage to begin the show.

All pictures taken by Gerry Love copyright 2009

Christmas Carol--Part 2

CHRISTMAS PAST

Scrooge sees his old mentor, Fezziwig, who is a bouyant and generous man, hosting his friends and neighbors on Christmas Day. "No work, boys, bring on the food, the drink, the decorations!" Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig welcome their poor neighbors in for a feast and festive party.

Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig demonstrate the dance, welcoming all to join them.
The neighbors, young and old, join in the dancing and festivities.
Men drink freely, and cheerfully toast the Fezziwigs for their generosity.
Even the kids get into the act of the singing and the dancing!
Maids and cooks join in also--that's me on the right.

All photos taken by Gerry Love copyright 2009

Christmas Carol--Part 3

CHRISTMAS PRESENT

Scrooge's nephew, Fred, has invited his uncle to dine with them on Christmas Day. Scrooge dismisses Fred with a series of Humbugs! and Good Day, Sir! Fred regales his party guests with stories and games surrounding the circumstances of that dinner invitation, Scrooge's gruff demeanor, and finally a toast to Scrooge, "whatever he may be!"

Fred's party guests
Fred's party guests--I am on the far left
The elegant setting of Fred's home

The women dance and sing while the men keep time. Even this old lady could kick up her heels on this dance!

All photos taken by Gerry Love copyright 2009

Christmas Carol--Ghosts

The ghosts mark the hours through the night, as Scrooge sees his past, the present and things to come.

Ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge's late partner. He is weighed down with the chains of money and distain of his fellow man (60 pounds of chains!)
The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge through his boyhood and young adult days, showing the pain and hurt caused by his uncaring ways for others.
The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge how things will be this Christmas Day
The final ghostly spectre shows Scrooge how he will be viewed in death--motivating Scrooge to change his path of life to become a generous helpful person.

All photos taken by Gerry Love copyright 2009

Christmas Carol--Part 4

CHRISTMAS PRESENT

The Cratchit family, poor but loving, celebrate their Christmas with a tiny goose, and lots of love.

The Cratchit Family singing together
A happy family dances to celebrate Christmas
Tiny Tim sings "Silent Night" for his family

CHRISTMAS YET TO COME

In Scrooge's vision with Christmas Yet to Come, he is shown how he will be viewed upon his death. Nothing but his valuables are of any use to those around him.
Upon Scrooge's alledged death, his servants try to sell anything of value of his to Old Joe the pawnbroker.

All photos taken by Gerry Love copyright 2009

Christmas Carol--Part 5

FINALE

Scrooge is finally convinced by his night visitors to change his life, be kind to his fellow mankind, and smile! He celebrates by breaking into a glorious chorus of "Gloria, In Excelsis Deo!" joined by the carolers. He and Tiny Tim wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, with Tiny Tim's blessing, "God Bless Us, Everyone!"

Scrooge and Tiny Tim greet the audience at the curtain call
Look at that smile--a man has been transformed!
Carolers as they introduce Act II

All photos take by Gerry Love, copyright 2009.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Off to the airport!

Over the river and through the woods, to the St. Louis Airport they go!

The SUV knows the way over bright and glistening snow.

Over the river and through the woods, the guests have all gone home!

I love you all, but really now, our holiday is almost gone!

Movie Review--Invictus

I must say, going to the movies is not something I usually do. Something has to really motivate me to want to go and sit in a cold dark theatre to see a movie. I hate going so much, I usually wait til the movie makes it to DVD, and if I'm still interested in it, I get the DVD. Sometimes, I actually watch them after I buy them! You should see my collection of never-been-opened DVDs on my rack.

Today my siblings and I decided to go to a movie. There is a pretty good selection of ones that I would consider paying to see, but we chose the movie "Invictus".

This movie is the story of Nelson Mandella as he took over the presidency of South Africa in the early 1990s, and how he managed to inspire the country to bond together as a homogeneous group, rather than two ethnic cultures who still remained apart. His wisdom was something that guided him to do this, taking steps to see that reverse discrimination didn't take hold, once he was elected as president.

Morgan Freeman made a wonderful Nelson Mandella, and Matt Damon made a great white leader of the rugby team. I had never seen a rugby game before in my life, and it doesn't look like something I'd like to engage in, but it seemed to bring the country of South Africa together after centuries of apharteid. Mandella saw to it that this occurred.

The story is taken from a book, so I'm sure there is some truth to the story. It was predictable and somewhat slow, but interesting, and Freeman/Mandella made it very believable. The final rugby game went on just a mite bit long, with the outcome predictable, but that was OK.

Clint Eastwood directed this movie, and perhaps he was setting the example for our country as our black president struggles to unite our people. That thought struck me as I watched, because Mandella was an outstanding and wise leader. And a silly game of rugby seemed to unite the people of South Africa in a common cause, as they struggled to become #1 in the World Cup Rugby world in 1995.

Very interesting piece of history. I did sort of nap at the beginning until it got interesting and I slept off lunch. But, all in all, it was enjoyable.

Ta-Da! I made it!

I made my goal today with this post. I've made 200 posts in 2009. Maybe I could bore you all and make 209 in 2009!

I'm a goal oriented person. I look to a goal, figure out what it will take to get to that goal, and work toward it. It has been a trait that has taken me through some rough times. It got me through school and to my degree and to my chosen profession of being a teacher. I must say, some Divine Intervention also got me there! So, I'm not taking all the credit! I've definitely felt the Hand of God in many circumstances that led me forward!

I've known people who aren't goal oriented, and they drive me crazy. How can you just go on in life with no goals in mind or to work toward? I don't know how they think, but it certainly isn't my style!

In this goal orientation, I have an uncanny internal clock that tells me just exactly, almost to the minute (well maybe to the day) how long it will take and how much effort must be expended to get to the goal. Often, because I do sometimes procrastinate, it's last minute right up to the deadline before the goal is reached. That's because I sometimes piddle around getting started on the work. Oh well, nobody's perfect! I've certainly tested my internal time-line clock more than once when doing costuming for my shows!

Anyway, blogging has been a lot of fun for me. I don't know who reads this stuff, but it is a good outlet for me. I can share the joys and woes of the world with anyone who cares to read it.

Thanks, Blogger! And thanks, readers, hope you had some time to enjoy my posts!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Whoosh, it's gone!

Put the cardboard collection outside today--on advice of my children who also live in this fair city, the recycling truck will take it away, and someday bring me a dumpster for it all. And the city will pay for it. Whoosh, it was gone when I came back home!

Went to do errands, including returning some unwanted, duplicate or ill-fitting gifts. The time it took was just two hours, but the money? I don't think I came out ahead, especially at the Mart of K's, where they still had their very attractive wool coats on sale, a long black wool coat for $55, I had to have one! Whoosh, the money that I saved by returning stuff was gone!

Came home and snuggled down for a short afternoon nap, which elongated into a long afternoon nap. Whoosh, the daylight was gone!

Now, I wish something would come through here and whoosh all the leftovers from Christmas out of here, the dirty sheets, dried up left-overs, crumbs, Lego pieces, and put away the dishes we used all weekend.

I guess I'd better get started, I think I'm the whoosh that will have to be doing all of that!

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Christmas Story hits home

Gift giving in our family has become sort of complicated. We had 15 people in the house on Friday, all eager to accept and give gifts. But the rules of who to give to, what kind of gift to give, and who to just skip has gotten cloudy over the past few years.

Of course, most people want to give something to the little kids. They like everything, except that my most wonderful gift that I had chosen for Little Miss M was completely rejected by her. It was a darling gift set of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Dwarfs????) with DVD of the movie. She took one look at it and said, "I don't want this". Her mother was aghast! So was I. But we had folks who cheerily adopted the dwarves, and we gave her the movie.

Then there are in-laws, uncles and aunts of various generations, big teenage kids who are problematic as far as who to include. We have people in our family who are in very different circumstances in regards to finances, so what works for one doesn't necessarily work for all.

So last year, MonkeyGirl devised an excellent plan. The siblings would give to each other. SewWhat, who is sibling to 3 and mother to 5 would give to all. That seemed to work out fine.

For my siblings, we just give to each other. It isn't an extensive gift list to fulfill, and it works out well. My brother is single, so I make sure he has a bounty of things he wants, and my sister does the same.

My children decided to do something different this year, and it turned out to be a big hit. They played "Rob Your Neighbor" for their gifts. Even though there was only 5 of them, it worked out OK. And there was robbing! But the theme of the day was "A Christmas Story" Two of the gifts were "leg lamp" ornaments, one accompanied by PJ's that had pithy sayings from the movie, such as "you'll shoot your eye out", "it's a major award" "fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra!"

My children love that movie! More than one spent Christmas Eve watching as much of the 24 hour marathon viewing of it as they could. And I have a new appreciation of it myself after sharing it with my students a few weeks ago.

So the "Rob Your Neighbor" thing may be the way to go next year. I'm not sure how they/we will be able to come up with any more interesting gifts than these kids came up with this year. A surger protector shaped like a human? Alien ice cube tray? Pac-Man hot mitt? How do they find these things? And the leg lamp ornaments and PJ's. I'm not sure how this can be topped.

But we have all year to figure it out--watch out, Christmas, 2010!

Getting close to the finish line

The end is near!

Dire predictions of the end of the world?

No, just looking to changing the year on the checks I write for 2010.

Somehow, this change in numbering isn't nearly as momentous as it was to change from 1999 to 2000. We had to say a whole new number to start our year. I hear some people say Two thousand and ..... One guy who was a business owner here in St. Louis and did his own commericals always called it 20-0-6 (or whatever model it was, he was a car salesman).

So what will you say? Two Thousand and 10? or Twenty-Ten?

Only time will tell what will win out for the next decade.

Until then, date your next 10 checks with the year 2010 right now, lest you forget until you get used to the new year. Maybe you never write checks--forget that then, just have a good new year!

Do something, anything, you lazy person!

After the craziness of the past few weeks, or should I say months, I barely crawled to the finish line of sending off my houseguests on Sunday standing up straight. In fact, I was laid low by a stomach bug that bit me in the night, and wanted to deliberately stay away from my guests so as not to impart them with an unwelcome virus. So I said good-bye, crawled into bed and there I lay until early Monday morning.

My get-up-and-go genes kicked in about 4 a.m. this morning. I had the urge to get up and do something, anything, and chastized myself for being such a lazy slug yesterday. But I deserved some rest, so eventually I forgave myself. I was up, showered and dressed, and had to wait for the 4:30 a.m. news to start!

What to do when you have no plans? Nap? No, I did enough of that yesterday. Read a book? Good idea, but maybe not today. Go to lunch and then shop, OF COURSE!

I owed MonkeyGirl a birthday lunch and a gift--she was laid low by a different winter bug and was sick on her birthday, Dec. 26th. So we arranged to meet for lunch, then she went off to visit a friend and I went shopping. Found 4 pairs of black shoes, a pink dollhouse, and some more toys for little grandson who will turn 2 in three weeks. What else could that child want than all the loot he got for Christmas, but we mustn't forget those January birthdays, even though January birthday boys probably have lots of toys to tide them over for the upcoming year.

I also managed to get a building permit for a fence we will be building at the M & M's house. Instead of it taking hours of bureaucratice manuevering, I got the permit in 15 minutes. This is unheard of in this fair city, but I think the guy wanted to go to lunch, wanted my $15, and saw no reason to mess around with me. Hooray!

I also got to IM chat with my BFF for the first time in about 2 weeks. We managed to both have a hour to spare early this morning for some good old chatting. Also got my laundry done during our chat time.

So, for a day that looked like it was going to be very unproductive, it turned out to be decent in accomplishments. Now, what to do tomorrow? Return stuff, that ought to be lots of fun. And maybe finish my housecleaning, which was interrupted by Christmas--never did get that 3rd bathroom completely cleaned!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The party is definitely over!

Dec. 27--and all the guests are gone. The gifts are strewn all over the house, but the 2000 pieces of Lego that entered this house are somewhat sorted and hopefully have gone home with the rightful owners.

There are boring leftovers in the fridge, many bottles and cans to be recycled, and the trash dumpster is overflowing!

The memories are good though. Memories of cousins who don't get to see each other very often playing and having a great time together. Memories of little almost 2 year old grandson who gleefully exclaimed "Grandma's house!" as they pulled into the driveway! He came to find me over and over again during the visit, a somewhat sharp difference from the last time, when he was still clinging to Mommy. He was so good, and barely had any meltdowns. He even spent about 16 hours up and around on Christmas day and stayed cheerful until he fell asleep in his mothers arms about 10:30.

My own daughters were suffering from winter colds, and someone gave me a touch of the stomach bug, which wielded its ugly head during the night last night. So, I just hope no one catches any of that that, especially those far away from hom.

So today was nap day. They all had left by noon, dodging a short-lived but serious winter snow event. I hope the ones who drove to Iowa didn't get into a lot of snow, it was supposed to be east of us, not north of us.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. I spent many hours napping today, who knows what this night will be like, but I do have my good memories and a couple of good books to keep me company should the gods of sleep not come my way tonight.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Talent oozes out and spills on us!

Today, when I went out to get my morning paper (even though it was noon), I saw a piece of paper blowing across the yard. I picked it up and was about to toss it in the trash can, when I glanced at the writing--

You are cordially invited to the Dickson's Family home for Christmas Cheer, food drinks, and a special holiday performance by the Dickson String Quartet.
When? Tonight at 7 p.m.

I was sure glad I picked up that piece of paper, because in the Dickson house, (our new neighbors), filled with a family of 12, the children all have talent oozing out of their pores, and it spilled out on us tonight!

This family moved into the house in November. The house is huge, it has 6 bedrooms, at least 3 baths, and several very large family rooms. I guess each of the 10 kids don't have their own rooms, but there are several sets of twins, so I guess they can share space. Mystery surrounded their move, because following the regular moving van came a piano moving truck, and even though I didn't see what they moved in, I knew it must be a very special instrument to get that kind of treatment. It is a huge concert grand piano, which takes up almost the entire width of the room.

Word filtered through the neighborhood, and one day was confirmed by Mrs. Dickson, that their kids are all musicians, and there are 4 of them who are attending UMSL on music scholarships, this is the Dickson String Quartet. Tonight they performed a short Christmas concert for the neighbors right in their own living room.

And, it was awesome! They are such accomplished musicians. They are in training with the Ariana String Quartet, that is why they moved to St. Louis from Washington state. They did a medley of Nutcracker music and then a Christmas Carol medley, and ended with a rendition of the very famous "Our Father" which was transcribed just for them. I loved every minute of it. Most of the neighbors attended, and even the little kids enjoyed it. They did an impromptu Christmas Carol sing-along, improvizing their parts as they played. Whoa--that is talent when you can make it up on the spot!

My dream when I heard that they all played strings was to one day hear them play. This was so special of their family to share their childrens' talents with the neighbors. Hopefully, this will become a tradition for them for as long as they stay in St. Louis, which we hope will be for a long time to come.

Merry Christmas, Dicksons! And thanks for a very special evening of fellowship and music!

Hooray!

Hooray for two day shipping! My Christmas shopping will be helped immensely by this service!

Hooray for awesome neighbors! My newest neighbors have 10 kids, and they all play instruments. They are giving a holiday concert tonight for the neighbors, won't that be fun?

Hooray for sweet little boys who live next door and who are just old enough to inherit my own grandkids outgrown toys and equipment. The "Thomas the Tank Engine" set has found a new home and hopefully an excited recipient.

Hooray for gift bags! Makes wrapping a whole lot simpler than all that paper, ribbon and tape. And they are recyclable also. All gifts are now wrapped.

Hooray for all the nice Christmas letters and cards I've gotten. I'm so apologetic that you may not get a card from me this year, at least not before Christmas. But I appreciate everything you have done to remember me.

Hooray for friends and family! You all make the season have meaning and purpose. Love you all!

One for you, Two for me!

I did 90% of my Christmas shopping yesterday. Usually, I'm well finished by Dec. 21, but not this year. I did it all in one day. I even got to online shopping, with the promise that it would be here by Dec. 23.

The problem with this shopping spree was that I found one gift for another and two for me. This confounds the Christmas shopping budget, to be sure!

So far, I have a DVD or two, a new outfit, a Christmas CD, warm socks, some Christmas snacks (chocolate, of course!). I quickly got myself out of the electronics department after eying a new flat screen TV (I don't even know where I would put it!), new camera (don't even use the old one!), computer (I hope to keep this one going for a while longer). I didn't even stop at the jewelry department--that would be very bad for the budget. I even found some necessaries, like Cheerios and printer paper.

Today, it is off to stores early this morning to get another gift for my brother, and perhaps order my Honeybaked ham for Christmas dinner. Then I hope to get going on trimming the tree and making this house ready for Christmas Celebrations!

Happy Dec. 22 to you all!

Yes, Virginia, there MAY BE a Santa Claus

My dream day was yesterday. When I am in the midst of spending almost every waking hour working on costuming a play, my dream day is the day when I no longer have ANY RESPONSIBILITIES in regards to costumes. That day was yesterday, when I returned the last of the rental costumes to their rightful owner, and was finally free of my duties.

So--on to shopping. My dear friend from Mid-Mo had a doctor's appointment in STL, and that is always a good excuse for us to get together. Her appointment was late afternoon, so we met for dinner.

She was supposed to be finished about 4 p.m, and we were going to meet. I spent time lolling around Sam's Club to be near our meeting place, Applebees. She didn't call and she didn't call. Since her appointment was to consult about something potentially very serious, I got more and more concerned. Finally about 20 to 5, I called her. She said she would be finished in a short while and would meet me at Applebees.

Well, I figured it would be some time later, so I decided to go to Target to pick up a few things while I waited. Target is about 3 miles from Applebees. This was taking place at 4:45 on one of the busiest retail/going home roads in our city, Manchester Road. That word can conjure up nightmares for those who use it on a daily basis, and going quickly to Target WAS NOT A HAPPENING THING! In about 20 minutes, I was about 1/3 of the way to my destination. As it turned out, I wimped out before I got there, saw a mall that had a few potential stores where I could find what I want, and went in.

Meantime, my friend had gotten quickly out of the doctor's office, and was at Applebees, waiting for me. By the time we finally got together, she had waited a L-O-O-O-N-G time. But our meeting was great.

Then it was off to shopping for more things. The quest lasted until 9:30, way down in South County, very far from home. But, for the most part, things went well. So far, I have something for everyone except Monkeygirl. And her birthday is Dec. 26, so I need to do double duty on gifts for her. But today is another day--I'll pick her brain for ideas, and hopefully will finish the shopping today.

And, Virginia, Santa Claus may indeed show up at this house!

Now to chase the dust bunnies away, and find the tree to put up!

P.S., my friend is fine, no serious problems--that is probably the best news of the day!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

One more for today

Today is our last day of "A Christmas Carol". To say I'm sad about that comes with mixed feelings. I'm sad to leave fun and friendship of my theatre buddies. I'm sad to not have a purpose in every day, to finish costumes for the show. But I'm happy to have some time to myself again. And I'm happy to NOT have costumes in every room of my house!

It was a good show, the best we could make of it. Our audiences were appreciative, and we had fun and some laughs backstage. That's what makes community theatre fun and why people will put in so much time and energy without much compensation! Or any compensation!

Hope all of you have a Merry Christmas, and as Tiny Tim says, "God bless us, everyone!"

Hope to have some pictures later this week.

The claws of deflation



No, I don't need to consult my spell checker about that title. It is describing cause and effect.

I've been using my stability ball for light exercise and as a computer chair for the past two months, ever since my physical therapy sessions, where I was taught some exercises to use with the ball. It works so well as a computer chair, because it is softer on my "sore spot" and adds light core exercise as I sit and type.

Enter the cause, or claws, as was stated in the title.

I have a cat who can be described as psycho, bipolar, Dr. Jeckle/Mr. Hyde--you get the picture. A sweet loving kitty craving affection turns to a vindictive beast, turning into an ankle attacker at a moment's notice. Touch his belly, you are in for blood-letting. He has no problem using his weapons (claws and jaws) at the least provocation. Maybe this is cause for big concern, but his loving affection when we nap together outweighs his bad habits.

He loves to check out my meals. He will get to lick the bowl when I am finished with cereal, pudding, Taco Bell, ice cream, turkey, fish and other tasty cat treats. He is constantly by my side as I'm finishing up with cereal in the morning. His choice, milk is fine, soy is not for him!

Well, I was sitting on the stability ball last night, checking my email, and he did one of his climbs up to my arm for affection. On his way down, he forgot to retract the claws, and sunk them into the stability ball. Whoosh! I was on the ground in minutes, hissing sounds accompanying my slow fall from grace.

To say I was p*ssed off was an understatement. I chased that cat for 30 minutes, shooing him off the bed all night (until I fell fast asleep and didn't notice his return). So now, I need to add 65" stability ball to my Christmas shopping list. May just see about getting those claws removed, or at least cut down!

D*mn cat!

Need to catch up!

On Sleep! Too many 5 hour nights and no afternoon naps!

On Housecleaning! Costumes will be out of my life and my house in 3 hours!

On Blogging! Even with my pledge to do 200 in 2009, I'm really behind on my pledge!

On Christmas shopping! Can we put off Christmas for another week? Maybe then I'd be ready!

On the Christmas letter and cards! Maybe not this year.

On Recycling! The aluminum can bin is overflowing and the newspapers are ready to eat my leg every time I walk by the pile.

I could go on and on, but you catch my drift!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

187 and counting

One faithful blogger counts her blogs for the year, and I just looked at my count. While I don't blog every day, 187 isn't a bad number for the year, it works out to about 1 every other day.

So, now, my goal is to do 200 for 2009. I hope they all can be interesting and worthwhile, not just "tweets" posted as blogs. This one might count for a tweet, because it is going to be short.

As our tech week goes on, my energy level is ebbing. I'm looking for the adrenalin to kick in and start the energy flowing again. I think my fellow actors and actresses are feeling the same, our rehearsal seemed to lack energy last night. We'll kick it up a notch by Thursday, I'm sure!

Tonight is hair and make-up night, with a photographer on board to catch the action. The set is really taking shape, looks fabulous and I think by this afternoon, I'll have the costumes tweaked and in good shape. I can only hope!

Come on adrenalin, kick in, but only during waking hours, not all night long! I need my beauty sleep!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tired Tuesday

It's Tuesday of tech week, and I'M TIRED! How can I make it through to next Sunday and live to tell the tale?

Today, it was non-stop at work from 7:30 a.m. to 2. I had 2 exams to give, grade, and pass back to students. I only got one set partially done, the rest awaits me on my desk tomorrow.

Then, at 2, the director of "A Christmas Carol" and I had a little chat about things she wanted to be changed for costumes. We had to take a detour to the warehouse of costumes, and then it was home to sew garments. I got three things done, one was a simple alteration, the other was a modification of one piece and a completely new garment for Marley. It was quite an improvement over what he looked like yesterday, so it was worth it. But there is another costume that I need to build tomorrow, one of my "sheet skirts"--buy a cheap used sheet for $1 or $2 and you can get two nice gathered skirts from it. I've relied on this technique for several of my costumes so far, and it will work for this one also.

So, I don't get to bed until 11, and get up at 5:30. I'll be ready for a nice long nap along about next Monday.

But wait, I still haven't done any Christmas shopping. I may have to put off that nap for another week after the Christmas festivities have ended.

Nite-ty-night, see you later, alligator!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Countdown to....

A Christmas Carol!



So we moved in yesterday. It was somewhat chaotic, because we moved in on the tails of a 125 piece Northwinds band picking up their show and leaving in a huge truck! There were so many musicians on stage, I have never seen that stage so full. They had the Northwinds Band plus the University of Missouri Symphonic Band playing together! Wow, I'm so sorry I was in the midst of my move-in so I couldn't hear it.

So the black tied musicians moved out of the way, and the costumes and stage pieces moved in. We worked until after 10--the lights were still on a people still working when I left.

Friday and Saturday were crazy for me! I had about 7-8 garments to make--nothing very complicated, some simple elastic waist skirts, simple knickers, some simple accessories. I remade one actress's complete outfits, the ones we had chosen for her needed extensive ripping and resewing, I wasn't up for that! I hate to rip! It took me less time to start from scratch! Besides, she had gone from little to teeny-tiny over the past two years, and the stuff she wore before was way too big. She is one of my actresses that I love to sew for, because she could make a plastic garbage bag look good on her, although we like to show off her figure a little better. I made her a darling outfit for Mrs. Cratchit, and found a perfect blouse at the thrift store that works so well with it. She tried it on last night, it was soooooo cute. I don't know if it makes her look poor, but it sure is cute!

Then I had to organize and bag up everything. I put together all the costume pieces, hats, scarves, gloves, socks (for the knickered ones), coats, and actual suits and dresses. It is so much easier to do this in the privacy of my home than to wait til we get to the theatre with 100 interuptions to try to keep my wits together to do it. Then I had to move it! It took three loads of my little SUV to get it all up there.

Once we got to the theatre, I had several ladies ready to iron and steam everything to make it look fresh and nice. I got them going, then had to leave for my granddaughter's Christmas program at preschool. When I came back there was very little to finish up, they had done a nice job.

So now we wait for tonight for the actual rehearsal. I'm not sure if she will want costumes tonight or not, but I hope that all goes smoothly. I'm sure there will be grumbling on some parts, the first comment I got last night was "My hat's too big" from a veteran who wore that hat last year and we fixed it, so quityourb**ching! That wasn't what I wanted to hear.

Anyone involved in theatre knows that tech week can be hell week or go smoothly. Usually it is an up and down week. Crisis, followed by crisis solved, only to have another crisis arise! When things go well, you can add the finishing touches to your performance. When they go poorly, you are just glad to get something on stage by opening night. Who knows what lies ahead for us this week, we just hope to put on a good show for our audiences....AND, BREAK A LEG, CHRISTMAS CAROLERS!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advent

This time of the year is the time of preparation for Christmas. If you can step aside from the commercial aspects of this holiday (aka, the decorations, the gift-buying, the parties, the food!) you can feel Mother Nature as she prepares us for our long winter darkness, which culminates on the first day of Winter.

Mother Nature and our Christian biblical tradition remind us that the time of waiting and preparation is one in which we are in darkness seeking the light. We call this season in the church year Advent. My most favorite church music deals with this theme in song and text. "As The Watchman waits for the dawn, so do I long for you, My God" (based on Psalm 130:6-7) Many a December dawn has reminded me of this song, dawn breaking under ripples of snow clouds overhead, with each ripple catching a glint of sunrise turning each cloud into beautiful shades of pink, mauve, blue and purple.

The natural darkness helps us to feel the longing during the waiting period that ancient ancestors experienced while waiting for the promised Mesiah. They waited and waited, for years, decades, centuries. How could they wait with hope for that long? Their strong faith kept them on course to wait for the coming of one that was promised to them so long ago.

And James admonishes his followers (James 5: 7-11) "Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the ....rains. You too must be patient."

And on Christmas day, the "Light" was born. Winter solstice brought ancients hope for the future, they knew that soon the days would no longer be darker and darker, but light would soon come their way. So, too, with the celebration of the Birth of Christ, He, is the Light that we seek who has finally come to walk in our midst.

Like children waiting in tingling anticipation for Santa to come, we wait for our Savior's birth. We can all remember that long wait for Christmas to come, our patience tested as the days go by so slowly. Let's think about why we really celebrate this holiday, and focus on anticipation for the birth of our Savior.

So, if there is a message here, it is Keep Christ in Christmas--no X-mas celebrations, only CHRISTmas celebrations! And, patience, people, the Lord will soon come!

See This D*mn House Dec. 11 post for the inspiration to this piece!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

An ICONIC Christmas Story

Does this image strike up memories in your mind? It certainly does for me!

What started it all going in my mind was the lesson in my English pronunciation class that I gave on Tuesday. It was comparing and learning the difference between pronouncing L and R. Now, with some languages, mostly Asian languages, this distinction is not made, because the L sound is not in their pronunciation lexicon. So, of course, the iconic FA-RA-RA-RA-RA-RA-RA-RA-RA from "A Christmas Story" came to mind. I started laughing out loud and then tried to explain to my students what was tickling me. It's hard to tell just that part, so I started talking about all the parts of that movie.

So, try to explain the leg lamp to a foreign student--or, how about Ralphie's pink bunny suit? Or the Red Rider 200 shot bb gun (will you shoot your eye out or not?), or the triple dog dare to try to lick a metal flag pole in winter? Or Father's salty vocabulary that gets Ralphie in great trouble when he tries it out? And my motivator for showing it, Christmas dinner in the Chinese restaurant because the neighbor's dogs stole the Christmas turkey off the kitchen table. Thus, the rendition of Deck the Harrs, with boughs of horry, fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra!

This movie has so many ICONIC images that we all can't help but chuckle at, just remembering them. I know some cable tv stations do a 24 hour marathon of "A Christmas Story", but I wanted my students to get the real dose of the movie, so I showed it to them today. They howled at most of the sight gags, and the jokes. I know there were some things that they didn't get, but most of it was clear to them.

Rent it, buy it, but watch it, it will really put you in the holiday spirit! I got my Christmas chuckles today, and I know you will too!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tornado Alley

Please don't report me to the "hoarder" police! I don't need an intervention from Oprah! And there have been no actual tornados reported in our area for quite some time. This is the result of a COSTUME TORNADO that swept through this house this weekend.
Bedroom wrecked by the tornado. There were 5 hanging racks in this room until one of the cheapies I just bought collapsed under the pressure of a full load. Now that load is on the bed or the floor.
Every flat surface in this room was covered with costumes yesterday, until I bundled up about 15 bundles to take to practice yesterday to try on my ladies. Luckily, most fit and there isn't a lot to redo.
The men's stuff, yet to be sorted completely. Lots needs to be done here before next weekend!

My theatre group has had the luxury of having a very fine lady store the costumes for the group in her basement for years. Why she ever agreed to this, I'll never know, but she had an unfinished basement, and nothing else???? to be stored there, so it worked out OK. About a year ago, she informed them that she would be selling her home within the year, and the theatre group had to make other arrangements for the costumes.

In the meantime, I've been storing things that the group has used for the past 2+ seasons. Since I was the costumer of record for all of these shows, when they were finished, I took them out of the theatre, and had no where to go with them, so I made a niche in my garage to store them.

The theatre group responded to my friend's plea to get a space for the costumes in her house. They agreed and they moved the stuff from her home to a storage locker nearby. They were going to get the stuff from me, but alas, what she had filled the entire locker, and I was just out of luck!

As we started to costume "A Christmas Carol", she bequeathed on me the entire collection we used for Christmas Carol 2007, plus some choice odds and ends that could be used for the show.

So here it is!

First, it was all stored in the bedroom so we could eat Thanksgiving dinner using the dining room table. Then one of my racks collapsed under the weight, and the stuff ended up on the floor or the bed. Then I had to sort the stuff, pull together elements that were in this box or that tub, and put them in bundles for each actress and actor. Yesterday, the actresses tried on their stuff, and that is still in the back of my car! Tonight, I'll do some trying on for the men.

It is a mess. The group has promised me a second rental storage area with hanging racks built and ready to recieve this stuff on Dec. 19. It will be such a relief to get my garage space and bedroom space back.

Right now, my car is outside! This has got to stop! And someday soon, hopefully I'll get my house back!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Party like you're.....

16? Crazy? Young again? I don't know how to end this statement.

Today, I partied. The first round was just a food fest in the department's conference room, where the food was plentiful, delicious and the chatter was light. Then it was on to party #2, one that I promised to my international students about a month ago in a fit of insanity.

Last night, it was time to put the party #2 together. What do young adults want at a party? Food and drink. I ignored their suggested beverage, quite adult and quite illegal for this group (hint: imported from Mexico with a very happy worm in each bottle!) I went to the grocery store and piled my basket high with stuff that is bad for you, with a little bit of healthy food to balance it off.

Then, I had to decide what we would do as entertainment for the party. I decided on playing a couple of paper/pencil games, one is Memory. This one serves well as an all purpose winner, because you can adapt it to baby showers, wedding showers, birthday parties, etc. You place 20-25 items on a tray, give the participants 1 minute to look at the tray, then they try to remember what was on the tray. I had to make a trip to Target to find some of the items. This group is a English as a Second Language group, who aren't fully up to speed on English words, especially since this is the first Christmas they've spent here. So I tried to find simple stuff, clearly representational of American Christmas icons.

I got up at 5:30 to fix the food for the first party. Then I needed to pack for the second party.

The day was crazy with other business interfering with the party atmosphere! Like teaching, and evaluating my teachers. And students needing to make up exams they missed. But we got it all in.

The first party passed all too fast, then it was off to partyland #2 for my students. Did I need to plan activities for them? NO! Within 2 minutes, they had the Cd player going, and all were dancing! They dragged the shy Korean boy in, took off his backpack and he was dancing within 5 minutes. Then they got the Vietnamese girl to dance, but I secretly think she was a very willing partner with the best dancer in the class. Then they got ME TO DANCE! Why, I think I found my niche! I can't get the dance right in A Christmas Carol, but give me punta music, and I'm a queen!

I got the students to break out of the dance mode long enough to eat the food I brought, then we played our memory game. That was hilarious, hectic, chaotic and so much fun! Then the adults who worked with them, and who were in attendance, read them "The Night Before Christmas".

All in all, it was a great day. I'm totally exhausted, but now I know I can dance, my students were all so appreciative, and so were my colleagues, and it was a lot of fun. I think this might have been the most fun I've had since New Years Eve 2005, celebrated in the nursing home with my honey! That is a story for another day, but the memories of today will live on and warm my heart.

P.S. Tomorrow will be spent cleaning the kitchen that looks like a tornado hit it, but it is witness to time well-spent preparing to be a hostess to some very lovely people, my students and colleagues!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Speaking of Mr. Dickens.....

Hats created for "A Christmas Carol" presented by Hawthorne Players, Dec. 2007
This was my fancy hat, my first attempt, the feathers cover up a multitude of sins!
Simpler design, fits well, cheap to make, takes a hour to put together, and the new default design for 2009!

Our theatre group is working on "A Christmas Carol". Dates for the performances are Dec. 18-20. We are doing 4 performances, a matinee on Saturday and Sunday, and evening performances on Friday and Saturday.

The group has done this show before, having first done it in 2007. I was costumer for the 2007 show. It was a big job (about 35 performers, most needing at least two costume changes), and I had just come off my task of costuming "The Music Man" with a cast of 55.

One of the things I found about doing a Dicken's show is that the ladies all needed period hats. It was fairly easy to find patterns for these hats, because many folks are doing re-enactments and shows using this style of period clothing. I had never made hats before, but was intrigued with the idea of doing so. As you can see, I got quite into the craft, and made many very cute, colorful and quite lovely chapeaus for my ladies! These were only matched by the wonderful top hats that the men wore!

One of our actresses is a very sought after performer, and she is in many shows during the year. She has a wonderful voice, she is a great actress, and she loves spending her spare time working in musicals. We were lucky to be able to snag her between other gigs for the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat last summer.

When she did Christmas Carol in 2007, she came with her own Dickensonian costume! She is in much demand during the Christmas season working as a songstress doing Christmas Carols for various local events. I was very thankful that she could dress herself for her caroling role, and when she told me what she paid for the hat she was wearing, I was shocked! Many, many pesos! And it is the simplest design! I recreated it the other night for $4 worth of materials and about 1 hour of time! It frames the face beautifully, and fits well. I'd model it myself, but you can get the jist of it from the picture.

From now on, if I need to make more Dicken's style hats, this is the style I'm making! The details of the fancier hats are lost in the translation, and even though they were totally fun to make, they aren't necessary.

My young girls will wear mop caps, and I have a nice collection of those. The actresses who are returning will get their fancy hats, but the newcomes will get the 2009 stripped down, maribou trimmed simple hats, and no one will be the wiser! My men will have several new cool top hats to choose from, and we'll all look fine!

A Tale of Two C......

No, it's not the famous story written by Mr. Dickens. We'll let that story go until another time.

This is a tale of two COATS that ended up in my closet. Two pretty red coats, one absolutely brand spanking new. It is also the tale of a brain that sometimes forgets, which seems to happen more lately as my brain cells age like fine wine! I guess some of them die off waiting to be used, and they take the information stored in them as they leave the building!

When I get ready to go out, I find myself needing (wanting..need vs. want is always a debatable topic!) coats of many colors. I am a color person, and red is one of those colors that I find myself wearing a lot. When I see a red blouse, sweater or jacket, something happens in my brain....I've got to have it, I've got to have it! There is no holding back--the evidence is in the "red section" of my closet. Red is only outdone by black, which everybody relies on for basic wardrobe pieces. Brown is also creeping in, perfect for fall wardrobing.

I was looking for a brown winter coat. So, nothing would do but to find a brown coat to wear on the brown days. Good old K-Mart had a wonderful sale several weeks ago on all of their winter wear. 40% off of some very reasonable outerwear--and the selection and quality were very good. They had brown coats, black coats, checked coats, white coats, and RED COATS!

Once I found the brown coat that would work, my eye kept drifting to those red coats hanging on the next rack. I've always wanted a red wool coat. It would look so sharp with my many red and black outfits. The price was definitely right, so I splurged, and bought two coats. The angel on one shoulder saying "you don't need two!" was outshouted by the devil on the other shoulder saying, "You'll look fine in my favorite color!"

I got home and was "accessorizing" my new purchases. I remembered that my dear friend who knits had made me a red and black scarf last season. I looked for the scarf in several places, but couldn't find it. Brain cells that held the information on its location must have died off during the summer! In the meantime, I've worn both of my new purchases, keeping me warm on cool windy mornings we've had during the past few weeks.

I was puttering around in my downstairs closet this week, and something caught my eye. I found my red and black scarf, and guess where I found it...wrapped around the beautiful red wool coat I had purchased LAST WINTER on one of my red devil days! Completely forgotten, but there it was! Shamefaced, now I had TWO NEW RED COATS!

My darling daughter, MonkeyGirl, has helped me out of my dilema. She and her BFF came over yesterday to pick up the elf suit. I told her of my stupidity, and she agreed to help me out in my dotage, and she bought the new red coat from me. Seems that a red coat would suit her well also. So now, I'm down to just one.

P.S. BFF Main Elf girl was also helpful in this venture. She is gathering gently used coats for her charity for Christmas. I really did have THREE red coats at one time (like yesterday afternoon!) One was a beautiful red and black one, many sizes too small to be buttoned on me. It was purchased at a garage sale many years ago for $10. Who could pass up a bargain like that? But since I haven't been able to button it for several years, I gave it to Elf Girl to give to some nice lady who has no coats. Following the words of the bible, if you have two coats, give one to another. Or in my case, if you have THREE RED COATS, sell one, give one to another, and then you are down to a reasonable amount, ONE RED COAT!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Trilogy completed

The Elf is finished!

Refer to my post on Nov. 22, "The Cowgirl, The Elf and the Curmudgeon"

The trilogy is now completed. I finished the cowgirl outfit on a Friday, Nov. 20, she needed it Saturday, Nov. 21. I finished the curmudgeon's cape 1 hour before it was needed for the photoshoot on Sunday, Nov. 22. The Elf costume is needed on Dec. 3--hooray, it is finished 3 days early!

She needs her elf costume because she will be the deliverer of lots of Christmas goodies to those who are less fortunate, and those folks would probably receive no gifts if it weren't for her and her fellow workers. Check our This D*mn House blogspot for details! She's the Head Elf, and we know she will represent her company very well!

I think she is doing a "show and tell" Thursday to the corporate folks to preview things to come. That is why she needed it early.

I wish her and the others lots of luck in their Christmas presentations, what ever they may be! In theatre, we say "break a leg", so "BREAK A LEG, COWGIRL, ELF AND CURMUDGEON!"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas....in LA!

Our street is shaping up to become a festive consumer of watts this holiday season. But the weather is anything but Christmas-like! It's like summer! My one neighbor in the big house took advantage of some balmy weather and got his lights put up last weekend. That spurred others to get their act together and start to decorate their homes.

Another neighbor and I use a lighting service to put the lights up on our eaves. For me, it is the only way I'd get them up there because #1, I don't own a ladder long enough and #2, I'm not about to climb a ladder myself and #3, I know my kids are busy with their own decorating, so, I have this lighting service do it.

The deal is with them, they want you to pay up front for the service, and way in advance. They promise if you pay by September, you can have a 10% discount AND they will put them up by Thanksgiving.

Well, Wednesday, Nov. 25 came and no lights were up! So I called them, got the answering machine, but left a message--"HEY, YOU SAID MY LIGHTS WOULD BE UP BY THANKSGIVING!" My neighbor down the street pursued her request further than I did by getting the phone number of the owner and calling him, and demanding that they get it done before Thanksgiving!

So about 7 p.m. on Wednesday night, I heard the trip trap of reindeer hooves on my roof, and there they were, putting up my lights. She got hers put on by about 9:30 that night. They made their deadline of getting them up by Thanksgiving. Good for them, because we are at the end of a 3 year contract with them, and if they didn't come through, we'd be shopping for a new company next year.

This weekend, it has been LA weather here in St. Louis. Clear blue skies, and temps in the 60, and today in the 70's. Balmy! Not your "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" kind of weather that I usually find myself in while putting up Christmas decorations. In the past, I wouldn't have known how to put things up if there wasn't a minus 2 windchill going on! It was just amazingly warm today. I was in short sleeves, and worked up a sweat! I just about put the top down in the red convertible sleigh today while doing my errands!

I got my moving, grazing doe and buck put together, installed their forest of pine trees behind them, got my two little spiral pines decorated with lights, and put together the makings of a creche for Baby Jesus when he makes his appearance. Thanks to some electrical work by a neighbor a couple of weeks ago, the wires are all run to the proper place and it looks good! I just need to install the star for BJ, but that can wait till closer to the time for him to make his appearance!

My neighbor next door and the neighbor across the street also got up on the eaves and put up their lights. Across the street neighbor has two prepubescent boys who love to climb on the roof, so he just had to watch and make sure they did it right. Next door, he needed to climb himself!

Now there are 5 out of 15 houses that are decorated and have the electric meters spinning. I'm sure more will follow, and some will not decorate. One family just moved in Nov. 1, doubt that they will, and one just had a baby on Thanksgiving day, they are probably going to be rather busy doing other things. Some are older folks who just can't negotiate decorating, at least not extensively. So, we'll see how many more watt busters start their Christmas displays and when.

This weekend was the prime time for decorating, because who knows how many more lovely weekends we'll get here in the midwest. Old man winter is just around the corner, and even though we're feeling like Christmas in LA, I know it isn't going to last!

A very special visitor

Here is our special Thanksgiving day visitor, Miss Jaden Isabella--my great granddaughter--this picture was taken when she was about 5 hours old, Sept. 17, 2009
She was stingy with the smiles until we turned off the camera, then we got the full blown smiles
Grandma Monkeygirl got the privilege of holding her, they must have coordinated their outfits, Jaden wore pink to match Grandma's pink socks
Little girl M and Jaden--maybe a future babysitter is created! Little Girl M came over to Monkeygirl and said, "I like your baby!" How cute is that!

She is precious, so cute in pink, and she was so good while visiting, until she got very tired and a little bit crabby. By the time she was dressed in her hat and sweater to go home, and in her car seat, she was already fast asleep. Come back soon, Jaden, we love to see you!

I got to give her mom and dad the quilt I made for her, they loved it with the duckies on it. (See "Soft Blankie" post, Sept. 27, 2009 for pictures of the quilt.) Hope they use it a lot for her. Mom looks good, she looks very confident as a young mom, and is doing a great job with her!

Jaden is my step-grandson's child, Skaterboy. They are very young parents, but they'll make it with a lot of help!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Letter from the past

I found one of my cousins on Facebook, and we post on each other's wall occasionally. This week, she celebrated her birthday (which I forgot about, sorry, Cuz! Happy Birthday, even if it is belated!) But she wrote on my wall that she found a letter from the past, which was written from my mother to her mother, who were sisters. The letter was a congratulatory letter on Cousin's J's birth, from sister to sister.

I had kind of forgotten about how the blending of years of my cousins and my brothers and sisters occurred in time. My parents had 5 kids, and I was the oldest. I knew my cousins were close in age to my sister, but had forgotten that the second cousin was born just 2 months after my youngest brother was born.

This last little addition to our very large family was a special child. Back in the day, there were no words for children like him. Retarded comes to mind, but he was much more than retarded. You see, his little body was wracked with a host of physical problems, and they didn't expect him to live long. He had a severe heart problem, and had other metabolic issues as well. These problems kept him fom growing, so he was not only severely mentally retarded, but physically retarded as well. Diagnosis was not strong in those days, and the usual way of dealing with children like him was to put them in some sort of facility and forget about them.

My parents could not do that. But caring for a perpetually non-growing infant did take its toll. They did keep him and care for him for the first 6 years of his life. He lived his life as a quiet but perpetual infant. Bottle feeding, diaper changing, never changing from the needs of an infant. He didn't react as a usual infant did to stimulation, he didn't like to be held, and preferred the comfort of his hard little crib matress to the warm arms of family members. Finally, a decision was made, to find a good place that would care for a chronic invalid child, and they did this and placed him outside our home with a heavy heart.

So, my cousin's letter revealed my mom's way of dealing with life's burdens, with cheer and always looking on the bright side. She told her sister that she was getting a new washer and dryer-- a highlight for sure! There were no Pampers in those days, and little brother certainly went through his share of diapers while he lived within the family. She also told of the few quiet moments she got when the 4 kids under 5 were all napping. This was a quiet moment when she was able to write the letter to her sister.

She also told of my preparation for directing a Christmas puppet show for the family...perhaps showing at age 10 my love for theatre! I remember caring for my little brother, and mother alluded to that also. "J (SewWhat) is a big help to me, and if, as often happens, P gets hungry while I'm preparing dinner, she takes over and at least starts him off on his bottle." I was 6 years older than my next sibling, and the next four were born within 5 years of each other. So I did do my share of babysitting. I remember that for sure.

What memories this letter brings back to me! I wish I would have had it yesterday to show my brother and my children, but it will be put away into a safe place to be shared at Christmas, when all siblings and children are gathered together.

Our little brother, who wasn't expected to live past infancy, did live to be 26 years old. He was lovingly cared for in a group home in his last years, but never did grow much past the size of a 6 year old. He never could do any self-care, couldn't sit up or walk, couldn't feed himself. But he had a perpetual smile on his face, and his caretakes were devastated by his passing. His was a simple life that was part of my life, but on the periphery because he wasn't in our home. I often think, if he had been born 20 years later, his life would have been different, because we do care for the most delicate of those among us in a different way now, offering them an opportunity to learn to whatever capacity they can learn, to learn self-feeding, observation and some movement control. But that was not to be for him, but we cherish his memories as our little brother, as my father referred to him, "Our Littlest Angel".

(Taken from a book "The Littlest Angel", which was written near the time P was born, it was a book that inspired my parents to look upon his birth as a special occasion to be cherished, not to be mourned.

See Kenadie's story, primoridial dwarfism, on YouTube, this is what my brother looked like, but his mental handicaps were compounded with the physical issues of a type of dwarfism.)

Live like a Cat

They say that household cats do three things, eat, play and sleep. And the sleep part makes up from 20-22 hours of every day.

Today, I took a cue from my furball pet and lived like a cat.

Oh, I got up at my usual time, 4:30. Checked my email and then caught up with news from my early bird friend who also likes to get up early. We IM each other practically every day, just to stay in touch. And I started out with high ideas of what could be accomplished now that my house is cleaned and the dishes from Thanksgiving are put away (well almost put away--at least all washed!), and the next play is about one month away.

I could sew something besides costumes. I could decorate my front lawn with the new nativity set I bought last January in anticipation of Christmas this year. I could shop. Or, I could take a nap.

Well, other than doing a couple of loads of wash, no sewing has gotten done, no statues are out in front, and no shopping has happened.

I ate (turkey shards, a semi-Thanksgiving meal about 10:30), then the triptophan kicked in and the naps took over my body. 10:30-2, one long one. Up for about 30 minutes then another from 3:30 to 4:30.

Now it is 5:15 and my eyelids are growing heavy again! I need to get going on something constructive to try to chase the sleepies away.

But, maybe my body is trying to tell me something--Hey, you've been on a merry-go-round of activities for months, give me a break, and let me rest!

Oh, OK, I'll give in. Just one more trip to the refrig for more turkey and I'll be back with the blanket and pillow for some more ZZZZZ's. It will probably mean I'll wake up at 2:00 a.m. tomorrow, but....zzzzzz...zzz..zzz....zz....z...z...

Pictures from "Doubt: A Parable"

I finally got a chance to show you my costumes on actual actors and actresses from Doubt: A Parable. which was presented by Clayton Community Theatre. I am rather proud of these, I tried to make them as authentic as possible.

Father Flynn and Sister Aloysius have sharp words for each other, but Sister wins! Hooray for the nun!
Fr. Flynn and Sister James confer in the garden
Mrs. Muller meets Principal Sister Aloysius in the tense meeting in the principal's office, where Sister lays out her concerns
Father Flynn as he speaks to his congregation about having doubts

Father Flynn teaches the boys basketball, and afterwards invites them to the rectory to have a bull session

My challenges in this project: researching and executing the construction of the bonnets. These are not as deep as the actual ones that the nuns wore, the director didn't want them deep because this theatre is lit mostly from above, and their faces wouldn't have shown as well. I actually made one prototype, which took me hours to make, then made two more which took me 20 minutes each to make! I used heavy buckram for the crown and brim, covering it with black broadcloth.

Getting my computerized embroidery machine to embroider the center logo for the chasuble, it was plagued with thread breaks all through the process. I think it happened because I was using a stiff backing. I'll use a softer one in the future, and hopefully things will work out better.

Finding just the right purse for Mrs. Muller. Never did find what I wanted.

Find just the right hat for Mrs. Muller. I finally found a rather beat up navy blue hat, she loved it and wanted to keep it. It only cost $4 at a thrift store, so I let her keep it. Once she put on the crunched up hat, it fit her perfectly, it was darling on her, and she loved it. Unfortunately, I found it after they took these pictures!

Making the rosaries for the nuns. My daughter, Monkeygirl, agreed to take on this task, and she did a great job. I had to shop at MANY, MANY craft stores to find the crosses, finally found them at my 3rd Michaels. The nuns wanted to keep their rosaries as mementos, one girl is Jewish and the other is episcopalian or something like that, don't know what a Jewish girl will do with a rosary, but it is a nice memento.

Fr. Flynn got no memento.

Fr. Flynn's cassock had 24 buttons down the front. Finding 24 buttons alike at any fabric store is an ultimate challenge! These were not all alike, but were similar enough not to scream out that they were different!

It was fun to do this show, thanks to my friend the director to ask me to work with this group, I enjoyed it a lot! Unfortunately, we had woefully small houses for each performance, and these people put their hearts and souls into each performance. I wish it had been seen by more people, they missed a very good show!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The lo-o-o-o-ong vacation

Thanksgiving holiday is finally here! Both students and teachers are glad that the time has finally come for us to kick back, relax and not think about school for a few days.

Reflections on Thanksgiving Day..

Mom used to make the best turkey gravy--I have yet to duplicate it! I'm going to give it a try one more time, I think I may have come upon a way to make it taste good, nice and thick and brown and carmelized in flavor--nothing like it!

Mother-in-law was always afraid that she wouldn't cook the turkey enough. She always used her Nesco roaster to cook the turkey. The tantilizing smells came from her basement, where she used the roaster, because there was no other place in their cozy little cottage home to set it up. When Ed and I went down to retrieve the turkey, it was so done we didn't have to carve it! It fell apart into a million pieces right there in the roaster. Mighty good tasting shards, as I remember!

Somehow, my mother let me carve the turkey. The bad part is that is was messy, the good part is you got to taste the bird before serving it! Those little pieces that were too small to put on the platter were just right for a quick before dinner snack! I still get to carve the bird, as often as not! And I get to snag the first tastes, too!

Snowy Thanksgivings--somehow, I remember a lot of these days. Either T-day itself was snowy, or the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was snowy. I do remember the T-day of '75, I was pregnant with child #3, and we had to mush through about 8" of snow to get to church. Luckily, church was only 2 blocks away, but it ws an adventure getting there!

T-day at Aunt Margie's house, I guess it was about '59. I ate and ate, she was a fabulous cook. I still remember how miserable I was after that meal because I was too stuffed full! But it was all worth it, very delicious! New mantra, only take one helping of everything, no matter how good it tastes, then you won't suffer all night from being too full! Memories of miseries seemm to last a long time! Let's see, that was 50 years ago!

Turkey sandwiches as a bed-time snack. After the whole kitchen is cleaned up, and we've napped through a couple of boring tv shows after dinner, we awoke with a hunger pang or two, which meant, we needed to go back to the fridge for leftover turkey sandwiches, on white bread and covered with Miracle Whip.

We never played football, took hikes, or did anything that active after dinner on Thanksgiving day. But my brother, who is the family archivist, usually entertains us with a photographic show of some sort or another! Sometimes the tryptophan from the turkey kicks in and snoozing takes place, but we do appreciate his efforts and he is really a great keeper of family memories. He has many sets of photos, some are his, some are family members who have passed on, but he manages to group them togther to make an interesting show. When I was hosting a Korean student last spring, he had some pictures from Korea where he was stationed in the Army in the early 70's. She was able to identify some places that she recognized that were still there. Very interesting! She appreciated that a lot!

My first turkey as a married woman--1964. It wasn't like mom's but it was edible. I didn't forget and cook the giblets in with the turkey, I had helped my mom enough to know not to do that. It was a little bit pale, first time in an electric oven. But we enjoyed it. WE were just about to move into our first home from an apartment, and I was 8 months pregnant, so we weren't traveling to visit (we lived 400 miles from our families that year.) It was just Mr. and me and a soon to be born kid, there in our little apartment, enjoying the first turkey I cooked on my own.

Ok, there are a lot of memories from past Thanksgivings. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving day, enjoy your meal, and most of all, enjoy those you celebrate with!

P.S. Happy Black Friday, have fun out there in the cold at 4 a.m. in the morning, not me, I'll be thinking of you as I turn over and catch another couple of hours between the sheets, while you spend all your money on stuff you don't need!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Preparing for the "really big MEAL"

The groceries are in the kitchen, the turkey is defrosting in the refrigerator, the menu has been divied out to various entities to prepare, and we're all looking forward to turkey leftovers.

The only thing left to do is...... CLEAN HOUSE!

Yuck!

Preparing for the "really big show"

No, this show isn't one that is going to be on stage, but it may be bigger than that, it may hit the college webpage, and hopefully millions of people can see it.

My international students have been studying pronunciation of English for the past 3-1/2 months. At first, the progress was really slow-going, because they were really starting from scratch in learning English vocabulary and grammar. But, they've progressed quite a bit since they first came her in August.

Today, they practiced for their upcoming videotape session done by the college AV department. I got three other teachers to help me listen to them as they practiced their speeches. We focused on clear pronunciation, not so much on content. We went over words that they were struggling with. At this point in time, they are pronouncing things using the wrong syllable stress, which makes it hard to understand. And they want to go too fast. But when they slow down, and get help with the syllables, they sound very good.

This is their third oral presentation of the semester. For presentations #2, they were to tell about their countries. Well, there was so much they wanted to share, they forgot about clear pronunciation. So, we simplified things, and now each is telling one aspect of their country's history, culture or symbols. Each only has a minute to tell their part of the story, so they can concentrate on correct pronunciation more easily, because it isn't so long.

So, they have a week to practice, and next week on Tuesday will be their time to be videotaped giving their presentation. I wish them luck, and thank my fellow teachers for helping us today.

You go, SEED students!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Antique Hat meets Modern Head

That beautiful antique top hat I found at the antique mall would have been just perfect for Scrooge for the photo shoot today, EXCEPT THAT......

it is about 5 sizes too small!

Scrooge looked like he was wearing a birthday cake on his head, or he was posing as the mad hatter and or the chimney sweep, about to clean chimneys. Come to think of it, the Mad Hatter's hat is way too big, so that image doesn't work.

We had a hard time finding one hat in our collection that did fit Scrooge! It's back to the drawing board on this one.

I should have known, the antique hat fits me. I have a pin head, so naturally, it was going to be too small for a man.

It was too good to be true!

Family Time of the Year

This time of the year, we all focus on family. The Thanksgiving holiday gives us a time to reflect on those we love, as we gather together to celebrate. It also gives us time to think of the empty seats at the table, those who are no longer with us to celebrate the family holiday.

At this time of the year, I think of some special marriages that took place during the month of November. My dear parents-in-law were married on Nov. 3, 1938. He was handsome, she was beautiful, and a year and a half later, they were blessed with their only child, a baby boy, who was destined to become my husband, father of three wonderful children, and grandpa to 6.

Then there was my own parent's marriage--which took place on a rainy Nov. 21, 1942. The time was WWII, when the young men were marching off to war, and my father was among them. She was resplendent in her handmade lace wedding dress, he, a handsome chap in his Army Greens. Very soon after the wedding, a child was on the way! Shortly after their marriage, he did leave for basic training, then on to Africa, the staging area for the 1943 invasion of Sicily and Italy. This was the turning point of the war, when the Allies finally got Hitler's army on the run. Father developed a serious medical condition while serving, and was not in the war for a long time, but he was away long enough to miss the birth of his first-born child, me, in Sept. 1943.

My mother had two sisters, and one did not marry until "later in life". She was in her 40's when she met the man of her dreams. Because she was unattached for a long time, and had no children of her own, she doted on me, dressing me up, taking me to tea rooms, and we had a very close relationship. She was married on Nov. 22, 1951??? (I need my brother's help, he is the family historian on these things!) My aunt and uncle met with a tragic accident in 1961, they were hit by a car while crossing the street one night, she died very shortly after being taken to the hospital, and he died 2 days later.

Then, Nov. 23, 1963 was a day many of my age remember, the day President John F. Kennedy was assasinated. That day will certainly live on in our minds.

So this time is a time of rememberance for me, for personal reasons. I recall the ones who went before me, who shaped my life, and a national hero who left the earth at all too young an age.

Anyway, I hope your day of thanksgiving is filled with good smells, good eats, happy memories of those who went before you, a table of diners who you love surrounding the feast you have prepared. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

He.e.e.e.l.l.l.l.o.o.o.! Is Any one out there?

Sometimes a bloger's life is lonely. Am I writing and spinning my words into cyberspace for just myself to read? Is there anyone interested in reading what I spit out?

A blogger can be considered the ultimate self-centered creature. That's what I thought when I first heard about blogging. Why would anyone want to read what I write? But then my daughter got me started on it, urged on by her BFF, who is an excellent blogger. For me, it is a way to hone my writing skills (I teach writing at a community college.) Sometimes, I catch myself making the same grammatical mistakes I just cautioned my students not to make, like writing run-on sentences, etc. etc. etc.

I've read some very interesting blogs, written by people with a special love for special topics. My blog focuses mostly on sewing, quilting and costuming.

But, is anyone out there? I never know, because only a few people comment on my blog. Come on folks, you don't have to be a registered blogger to comment!

I found out that my cousin who lives in San Francisco reads my blog. It is her way of keeping up with this branch of the family! And the other night, while waiting for "Doubt" to begin, one of the actors said, "I read a blog today written by someone who must have seen the first night of Doubt, she liked the show and gave me a good review." I told her, "I have a blogspot". Then we found out that she found my blog through Google, and had read my review of the opening of her show (read "Another Opening, Another Show" where she read the review.)

So I guess there really are people out there who read my blog. Since it is my photojournal of things I work on for different shows, it is a way for me to send lots of friends pictures, since they live far away and can't get here to see the shows.

But make a comment once in a while, OK? Do it as an annonymous person, I don't care! Just let me know you are out there!

The Cowgirl, Elf and the Curmudgeon


There is no rest for the wicked. I guess that puts me in the "wicked" category!

This weekend has been an ongoing costuming session, fulfilling commitments I made to folks I love to make special things for them for Christmas occasions.

A precious little girl needed a "western theme" costume for her school's Christmas program, a cute little broomstick skirt and matching vest would be just the thing. It will also be one of her costumes for "A Christmas Carol"....

A dear wonderful BFF of my daughter's, great blogger, scrapbooker, DIYer, and wonderful philanthropist, is playing "Santa's Elf" to deliver Christmas baskets that she and her co-workers are collecting for needy families...Of course, she needs to be well dressed to play her role in spreading Christmas joy....

And the curmudgeon, a.k.a. Ebeneezer Scrooge, needs to show his grumpy face for a photo shoot for publicity shots for "A Christmas Carol"..oh, I almost forgot, so does his little benefactor, Tiny Tim!

BUT, HERE'S THE CATCH...this was the weekend they ALL needed their costumes! So, that has been what I've been doing for the past two days.

Got the little cowgirl all fixed up on Friday. Got the elf started and basted and tried on during the day yesterday,because she doesn't really need it until next week. Then I created Tiny Tim's outfit and Scrooge's duds by picking through stuff I own, going to the thrift store for a grungy shirt for TT, and making an overcoat/cape for Scrooge. I have a wonderful Scrooge hat I found at the antique mall, a gently used "made in Paris" top hat, very vintage. I thought of a way that they could take the publicity shots using no people, just hats, canes and crutches, then I wouldn't have to dress anyone! Too bad I don't have all four elements, or I'd do it myself! Similar to the photo in this blog!

So today, no sewing, except for a snap or button on the overcoat. On the agenda today is "Doubt", which closes today, we do strike, then on to Christmas Carol rehearsal and photo shoot.

When Monday morning rolls around, I guess I will have earned my day off in the office grading papers, because this weekend was anything but a restful couple of days off!

P.S., If the photo shoot were tomorrow, I would have Scrooge's rental costumes, they will be ready tomorrow. Then I wouldn't have had to fool with him at all! Ah, deadlines, they mess up everyone's life!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pictures from "On Borrowed Time"

Mr. Brink, (aka "death"),is a dapper fellow who gently tells the characters, "It's time to come with me now"..where the woodbine twineth...Gramps resists and tricks Mr. Brink to climb an old apple tree to get him an apple before he goes with Mr. Brink. Gramps had made a wish that anyone climbing the apple tree had to stay there until he said they could come down. The wish really comes true, and Mr. Brink (and death) is stuck in the apple tree!

All of this trickery is designed to keep Gramps here on earth a little longer to be with his beloved grandson Pud, whose parents were killed in an auto accident. Aunt Demetria has designs on Pud, more on the money his family willed him, rather than on her desire to show love and care for the boy.

Gramps is declared insane by reason of his claim to have death caught up in the tree. Dr. Evans, the Sheriff, Mr. Philbeam and Marci try to convince him to relent, and let Mr. Brink down, which finally happens when Brink tricks Pud to climb the tree, and as a result, the boy dies. Gramps decides to go with Mr. Brink also, to that wonderful place into eternity, to meet his dear wife Miss Nellie, who still chastizes him in eternity for swearing!

An endearing story, and played very well by the Hawthorne Players! Thought the subject is somber, it is treated in a light-hearted way, and as a result, no sniffles at the end, only happiness that Gramps and Granny and their dear PUD are together once again!

Mr. Brink tricks Pud to climb the tree
Mr. Brink's first encounter with Julian, and Julian resists the call to "come with me now"
Aunt Demetria--flowered dress from vintage pattern (see earler post for pattern details)

Aunt Demetria in another vintage dress.

I found many of the costumes in closets, at thrift stores, and I built several for the women. Aunt Demetria looks fabulous in her costumes! She liked them so much, she purchased them for her own collection! The little boys wanted their thrift store shirts and my famous boxer shorts as a remembrance, so we let them take them home. I found Dr. Evan's checked coat and vest at Goodwill, perfect fit and style, and although he whined about looking like Herb Tarlick, I think he looked great, so did his girlfriend and many others!

It was fun to do the costuming for this show, despite the fact that I was doing two shows at the same time, but neither of the two were that demanding, so it worked out OK.