Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mow No Mo'!

It has always been a hated job, mowing with the push mower. When I had a huge lawn and could use the riding mower, I loved doing it. But not pushing a mower. There's something about the way those handles hit my body, I just struggle to do it. My back twangs and throbs all night long after I mow. It makes me feel like I'm going to my grave immediately when it gets hot in the summer, I just can't stand doing it.

So, now I will mow no mo'!

Last week, when I was trying to struggle through the dense growth brought on by some highly expensive fertilizer and lots of rain, the neighbor's lawn service guy was also working on their lawn. He did their lawn last summer, and it always looked nice, and he was reliable to get to it on a very regular basis. He and I happened to be heading through the passageway between the houses at the same time, mowers off, and I asked him if he wanted another customer. He said he'd think about it and later when he was done with their job, he came to my house, gave me a bid, and now, I MOW NO MO'!

Tonight he was back, battling very thick grass on both lots, but he got them both done in 2 hours, trimmed, blown, bagged, the whole nine yards. And I just loved watching someone else do the job I've hated for so many years, and do it well, and it only hurt a little bit when I emptied my wallet into his hands.


Gone Fishin'

It's usually not a grandma, but a grandpa who passes his love for fishing on to the grandkids. My grandpa passed it on to me. My grandkids don't have a grandpa, so I'm the one who gets to pass this skill, love, passion...whatever you want to call it, on to my grandkids.

I can remember many a day going fishing with my grandpa. He was my only grandparent also, his wife passed away many years before I was born, and my other set of grandparents passed on before I started school. My grandpa and I were very close. I was the only grandchild for 6 years, until my intrusive little brother was born, so grandpa and I were very close.

I remember getting to spend the weekend at his house, which was only about 6 miles from my parents' home, but it was like an oasis. It was an old home, built around the turn of the century, in the heart of the city. The glories of his neighborhood is that there was a store of some kind on either end of this city block, plus the school and church across the street. The candy store up the street was my particular favorite! Around the corner and down the block was a public park with a "draw and fill" swimming pool--they filled it every day and emptied it at night. No need for fancy plumbing or chlorine, it was 2 feet deep in the deepest part, just big enough for a bunch of neighborhood kids to cool off in on a hot summer day. This was "pre air-conditioning" time. I remember sleeping during the summer nights on the screened in porch, since it was beastly hot in the house. But the best memories I have is when Grandpa took me fishing.

We went everywhere to fish. We mostly went to the ponds and small lakes in the city parks. Sometimes we went to the rivers, some which were close and others far away. The most fish we ever caught was during a fishing derby at a city park where we caught 32 2" bluegill and won a prize!

Grandpa also took me fishing for crawdads in the local creek. One day we caught quite a mess of them, and Grandpa insisted on cooking them. He even made me eat one! Another time, we caught a huge one, and I stupidly insisted on taking it out of the container to look at it. The darn thing pinched my thumb till it bled, and in trying to get it off of me, I shook my hand and sent it flying right back into the water, just where it wanted to be!

Today was the day I passed my love of fishing on to my grandkids. I've been planning this for quite some time. Being the cheapskate that I can sometimes be, I didn't want to buy a fishing license--aha--senior citizens of Medicare age don't have to have licenses! Last fall I bought the poles, Cinderella pink and purple for her, and SpongeBob for him. Then this past weekend, I bought the hooks, bobbers,worms and a new pole for me and was all set for the first day of OUR fishing season.

Today was Grandparent's day at the preschool, and after we had our time together at school, they came home with me for the afternoon. She was dressed up in a new dress, which wasn't very appropriate for fishing, but we had spare clothes in the drawer. They used their little practice plugs that came along with the fishing poles to get the hang of casting. We practiced casting down the stairs and retrieving the plugs. They really caught on rather quickly. The cat liked that game.

Then it was time for going to the park, and using real hooks and bait. Boy M thought the idea of touching a worm was gross, so he was glad to hear Grandma would do that for him. Besides, my worms were nightcrawlers, about 5-6" long, and I knew no fish that we were going for would be eating something that big, so we had to disect the worms, a really gross task! But I'm a veteran at this, been doing it for a long time, and I have my techniques that make actually breaking it with my fingers not necessary. Fold the worm in half, put the hook around its body and pull, voila, you now have two short worms! Or three or four, depending on how many fish you want to feed!

Of course, my fears were plentiful, hooks in someone's body, falling in the lake, throwing the pole in along with the bobber and line, actually catching something! But the only trajedy was when Boy M kicked some dirt into the lake, and launched his unlaced shoe into the water! Luckily, the fishing pole was just long enough, so I didn't have to go swimming to retrieve it. If you saw this water, swimming is the last thing you'd want to do in this lake!

So, it all worked out OK. One hook did catch on one child's shirt, didn't do any damage except to smear a little worm guts on the shirt. And the shoe. And luckily, their attention span was short. I think we got one nibble, but that was all the interest from the fish. They actually ended up making some decent casts, and it was all over in 30 minutes with no one mad, no one hurt, and grandma's wish and dream was fulfilled.

I'm hoping we have some more times that we can share this love of mine. It was an expensive trip if it ends up only being a one time adventure! But I don't think it will be. Grandma now owns the SpongeBob fishing pole, Boy M wanted to trade for a Batman pole, his newest action figure love. That's OK with me, anything works for me, I'm not picky. I'll go fishing any day, as long as the worms are fat and the lake looks promising, I'm willing to go, with or without my grandkids.

If I'm not at home, you might consider this, maybe I've GONE FISHIN'!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Seek and ye shall find....

Ok, I looked one place where I actually should have started my search for the summer PJs, and what do you know, there they were! So the system isn't what is broken, the memory of what the system IS is what failed me!

My one dear friend who I IM with almost daily gave me a suggestion for how to store my financial records. She said that she gets file boxes, and stores everything for the year in a different box. This is an excellent idea, so I bought a bunch of boxes, put my financial stuff for each year in a separate box, labeled the boxes, and stored them neatly away.

In our state, to get a license plate renewed, you need your personal property receipt from the previous year or two to get the license. Our licenses are cheap each year compared to many states, because we pay this personal property tax separate from the license fee. But you need this little piece of paper to prove you paid it, or NO LICENSE RENEWAL for you! So, last fall, when I needed the paper, I searched and searched for days on end looking for that receipt. Where I thought it should have been it was not. But my faulty thinking was overlooking the fact that I had a NEWLY IMPLEMENTED SYSTEM of storage for my financial records. I had looked and looked for where the document could have been filed, and I OVERLOOKED the box marked 2007 about 20 times before it dawned on me that's where the darn piece of paper should be stored. Yes, there it was, right in the correct place, right where my smart friend told me to put it.

I then turned on my best friend, and blamed her for making me do a very logical filing system, which my pea brain could not remember for two minutes. Being the good friend she is, she apologized for being so reasonable.

My brain still was on autopilot from years past, where this important document could have been stored anywhere, from the refrigerator door held on with a magnet, to being buried in any one of 20 piles of important papers that needed filing. My dear departed sweetie had an extensive filing system, one that filed instructions for making bat houses, to exotic instructions for making a worm farm (yes, he actually had a worm farm), to instructional pamphlets on many, many do-it-yourself home projects, energy saving tips, and old seed catalogs. These we could find. But other papers, like the mortgage papers, the personal property and real estate receipts, things that were rather important in the grand scheme of things--no, there was no filing system for them. We always hunted for days for that personal property tax receipt. Good thing the state gave us a month's notice before we had to get the license renewed, so that we could mount our search for the vital document that would keep us legally driving on the road.

And did we learn from that experience? NO, it happened year after year. I finally got into the habit of demanding the document after he did got the license, and I put it somewhere that I could remember where it was, because his method of finding things was to stand in the middle of a room, bellow "I can't find that @$^%# whatever" he was looking for and the expectation was that I would drop whatever I was doing, and go on the frantic search seek, find and to hand to him what he was looking for. Being the good and faithful wife that I was, I always followed the drill, and was constantly on a search for something or another that was misfiled, or not filed at all.

So, now we have a system, and if followed, it should work well for us. I found the PJs by following the system, the personal property tax receipt is filed carefully in its 2008 box, and here's hoping that next September my brain can comprehend where to look for it and find it.

P.S. My smart friend took my idea of storing her summer clothes, using large compressable bags. Guess what, she can't find her summer clothes! We are two girls, born the same year, and not only are we sharing a brain, but with only half a brain apiece, we are not functioning very well! God help us all! She needs to remind me where my receipts are, and I need to remind her where the clothes are stored. We're both in trouble.

Oh Pajamas. where art thou?

I'm on a roll with that title, it is getting rather overdone--my apology!

When fall rolls in and the little summer pjs no longer feel good because you are COLD, COLD, COLD and need warm jammies, it's time to stash the summer pjs and get out the winter flannels. Now, it is warm, and flannel is just too darn hot, so it's time to get out the summer pjs.

Trouble is, I'm singing that song--"Oh Pajamas, where art thou? Seems as if the switch from summer to winter last year was when I was in the stashing mode, just stick them anywhere where they will fit and be out of sight! Now, that I need the summer PJs, I'm like a squirrel who can't remember where she buried the acorns, so I'm scrambling from drawer to drawer, digging through trying to find the components of summer nightwear.

So far, I found a top in one drawer, the bottoms in another. I know I stashed some in a small dresser that I emptied when my student took over the room where they were stored, if only I could remember where that stash ended up. I have a system, but the system has broken down, and I've only lived in this house for 3 years! Yikes!

There is always more than one solution to this problem, one being the nightwear department at my local discount store! That may be my next stop if the scrounging around in many drawers doesn't yield its bonanza of summer nighties--OR, OR, OR, some use just birthday suits for nightwear, but that's not my style. Not in a house with sheers on the windows, and neighbors who walk around outside in the night. Besides, the laughing that would result if someone viewed this phenomenon (me walking around my house in a birthday suit alonE) would keep me awake!

So, Summer Pajamas, where art thou?

What's your "Social Network"?

I used to think I was really hot stuff to be blogging. A woman on Medicare, being on a social network with the cool kids...who'd've thunk it? Then I heard all the senior citizens are doing it, and the younger crowd now "Twitter"s or is on "FaceBook" or "My Space" or whatever. I can't keep up with them all.

I definitely haven't kept up with the trends, because blogging is as far as I've gone into the social networking sphere. I'm having enough trouble keeping up with blogging, and who knows who would like to know that I just blew my nose, or ate a donut and Twittered--something the Twitters of the world all are in on. Besides, I would just not like to realize that absolutely no one in the world would be interested in what I've twitted, so justforgetaboutit, I'm not doing it.

The blog has really helped me stay in touch with people who know about my blog, but sometimes I don't know about the fact that they are reading it. One long lost cousin is reading my blog, a shocking fact that I only found out about when she started to email me. The connection is convoluted--her daughter went to school with MonkeyGirl--so I'm guessing that the daughter told mom, and mom started reading the blogs from another branch on the family tree. Very nice connection.

MonekyGirl has a very busy life, and often, I don't get to chat face-to-face with her for a while, so blogging is our way to stay connected. She blames me for being busy all the time--OK, mea culpa, I do keep busy to keep my mind off of being lonely. So, she can keep up with my life and travails through the blog, and I can do the same with her. Too bad we live 2 miles from each other, and have to read each other's blogs to keep up on what is happening in each of our lives.

MonkeyGirl inspired me to blog, she writes in such a fun, witty way about things that could really get a girl down. She had those SSNDs teach her how to write also, with a very gifted middle school teacher who taught her in 6-8th grade. She has a way with words, and in her work, she uses this skill to do her job (don't ask me to explain what her job is, I'll never fully get it!) She is like her father, he worked in defense, with a high securty clearance. If we understood what he did......well, that would be cause for the FBI to step in!

So, MonkeyGirl, keep on writing, mommy SewWhat loves to read what you write, and don't abandon Blogspot for Twitter--OK? We are not women of just a few words, Twitter isn't for us!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Party's over.....

Again, a title based on a song or movie....I'm in a rut.

The set has been struck, the make-up wiped off, the lights have gone dark. Stepping Out is now history.

And the last cast party is over. Now, cast parties are great, you get to sit and chat with your fellow actors, actresses and tech folks under no pressure other than it's late at night and you really should get some sleep. Our last cast party was at our director's lovely home, with lots of food, drink and comfy chairs. Some of the actors took advantage of the soft surroundings to catch a few well needed winks. It's not that we were boring company, it just was that everyone is exhausted.

We had 4 cast parties, and maybe one more that I didn't go to. I'll see these folks again, but you never know where or when. We had a great time, with a great group of talented folks to be with and share our life stories with during our 2 months of prep for this show.

And now, to try to sleep, it's 1:23 a.m, the time I've been getting to bed the last few nights. Sleep tight, SewWhat, and dream of future shows!

XXXXX, where art thou?

About these titles, one of my absolutely favorite movies is "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" That is why you keep seeing that phrase in my posts.

I don't love it just because it stars George Clooney. He certainly is eye candy enough to make it worth staying awake through. The iconic sight gags, and the tradiitional "roots" music is worth a listen and a watch. I wrote a whole academic unit that I've used for both elementary school and college based on the music found in this movie. It is really an excellent movie, if you haven't seen it, comb through Netflix's index and see if you can find it.

When my brother and I went on our trip last summer, we found quite a nice collection of music of this genre while we were in Nashville. We visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, it was a wonderful place full of mementos giving tribute to American Roots Music.

Look into it--you'll enjoy it on many levels.

Spring, Where art thou?

The one thing we middle-westerners know about is weather. We have a huge variety of weather situtions that we can be dealing with on a daily basis, and sometimes on an hourly basis. Rain, hail, tornadoes, extreme cold, snow, heat, extreme heat...the list goes on. Even though we are hundreds of miles from the ocean, we even endured a hurricane last fall, or at least the rain-out portion of the hurricane, which flooded our town pretty quickly in a matter of an hour or two.

Now, ideally, spring is the time when you can gently feel the bones warming and you know summer will be here soon enough. You can enjoy days when the windows are thrown open to catch the gentle spring breezes, and they sweep out the stale air of winter from the home, and it is delightful inside without mechanical assistance!

This winter seemed to go on and on and on. We endured a lot of very unpleasant days in the past few months, including snow, threat of snow, ice, cold rain and some stiff wind. When will it be spring, I found myself asking, when will I be able to put away the winter coats, and just go out in a jacket? That wasn't a happening thing until this past week.

We didn't get spring this year. We went from winter to summer in a day. One day it was 48, cold, windy, rainy, and the furnace was still churing out hot air. The next day it was 88, beastly hot, and eventually when the house heated up to 83, I wimped out and threw on the AC. No break in the utility bills this year! From gas consumption one day to electrical consumption the next day--my usual spring lull will not be happening this year.

One thing nice about the warm weather, I own a convertible. A beautiful "absolute red" Solara convertible--a real head turner! So, now it is time to throw the top down and ride in style! Love those summer days, even if they came a little early this year!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

In memorium

You don't realize the impact people and events from the past have on your life until you have a chance to think back and reflect. A full-page article in our latest Catholic paper caused me to do that.

The article was an obituary chronicaling the life of a School Sister of Notre Dame, who died last Saturday at age 78. We knew her as Sister Eugene, or "Eugene" as we disrespectfully called her behind her back. Then in the 70's many of the sisters took back their given baptismal names, so she was known as Sr. Mary Ann Eckoff.

Now, Eugene was my English teacher. She taught upper classmen English, and she was really good at giving us a chance to write, as well as to read English Literature. I think I still have my textbook downstairs that we used in her class.

The other thing Eugene did for me was to give me a chance as a SOPHOMORE to be the art director for the stage production the school did each year. This was somewhat unprecidented, as these jobs usually went to upperclassmen. So, I got to do my job as art director for the plays for 3 years, and the experiences taught me much about stage production, which I used many times as an adult.

Upon reflection I find it coincidental that I am an English teacher, and my other love is theatre.....Eugene, if you are looking down on this lowly person now, down from Cloud 9 right up there next to our God, see me as one of many people who your life's work has touched and made more meaningful as a result of us knowing you and learning from you.

God Bless you Sister Mary Ann Eckoff, may you rest in peace, God's good and faithful servant. I cried the day I found out you died, you no longer can physically touch the students who you taught here on earth, but your spirit lives on in each of us.

Article in St. Louis Review, April 24, 2009 edition.

Friday, April 24, 2009

January, February, March, and now April. where art thou?

MonkeyGirl in her latest blog welcomed SewWhat? back into blogsphere. Yes, the posts have been few and far between in the past 4 months. So, I'll bore you and let you know why.

January--three shows that started in back to back weeks that I costumed. A little one, a medium sized one and a big one. Luckily the big one only required me to make 14 outfits for the VonTrapp kids for Sound of Music. But that was enough.

A new group of students at my college from SE Asia came for an 8 week whirlwind English Language Institute. They were wonderful, but enrolling them and getting them going in our classes about gave me a heart attack. It was so stressful. I had to hire a new teacher on Saturday to start the following Tuesday!

February--went to a new doctor this month. Now that I'm on Medicare, I made the change to someone other than the doctor I had been going to for a couple of years. Found out when I went to fill the prescriptions he gave me that I did NOT have Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage because of a clerical error. This could be very costly, because the next open enrollment period would be Nov 2009, to start Jan, 2010. A lot can happen in a year, so I started with my daily onslaught of calling to Medicare, insurance companies to try to get this problem solved. Very frustrating!

Also got into a tangle with SS over a pension I receive from the teacher's retirement fund. SS wanted to know how much the teacher's pension gave as a cost of living benefit, so SS could take it away from my SS pension I receive as a spouse of a deceased man who paid into SS for 40+ years. AND they wanted me to pay back what they overpaid me because I should have intuitively known that each year I needed to report this, and I should have known intuitively who to report it to. This generated another daily "put on hold for 45 minutes" call to try to get this solved.

Started with the most recent play, Stepping Out. I am the assistant director, which means go to every blooming practice (the ones with lines and stage movements at least) plus, as the costumer, I needed to sew these 9 x 2 costumes for the dance numbers.

Got a pneumonia shot because all people over 65 need to get one. Maybe that was why I got three 2 week viruses in a row, coughing, sneezing, raspy voice, feeling crappy. I'm not a fan of vaccines, and this is why I don't like them.

Oh, on Feb. 1, in a weak moment, I agreed to host a Korean girl who is attending our college for the rest of the semester. She is lovely, but having a houseguest for 3 months does put somewhat of a strain on a person who is used to living alone. Besides, I never cook for myself, and she doesn't like to eat out. So, we had to resolve that issue, besides some other issues. She came at the busiest most stressful time for me, it is just one more thing to consider each day. How is she going to get to and from school, and what is she going to eat? Daily connundrums, which need adjusting on a daily basis.

March--after all my frantic phone calls to Medicare and SS, I took my spring break to finally resolve the issues and get to the bottom of things. I spend 2 half days at the SS office, one day preparing a long, long 10 page document to tell them why I shouldn't have to pay them back the money they said I owed them (they wanted $750 back because I got $600 more in my pension--how does that figure? Must be that faulty calculator they use to figure out how much money they should take away each year because I receive a government pension). I'm not double-dipping, I legitimately earned my government pension, and my husband legitimately earned his SS through 40 years of paying in to it, and receiving 15 months of benefits before he passed away. I couldn't live for very long on either of them alone. So, shut up, SS and give me a break.

The prescription drug thing got resolved after I got so upset on the phone by being shoved from one entity to another, I was crying, shaking, and telling them, "you made a mistake, and you can give authorization to correct this mistake, so correct it and enroll me right now!" I guess that is what it took, because now I have Medicare Part D coverage. Hooray. Take another blood pressure pill, SewWhat, and calm down!

Practices for the play went on, in freezing cold church basements, with actresses who couldn't remember their lines, costumes that were too tight at first fitting, and other frustrations. On one weekend when it was prime time to sew, I got hit by another virus, laid me low for 5 days before I felt decent. I'd sew for an hour, sleep for 2, sew for another hour, sleep for 2. I got things done, but it was miserable!

Ah, April--hope of spring, then dumped on by snow. The play loomed ever so close and the costumes were still unfinished. Holy Week approached, with hours and hours spent in church singing my heart out. Did you know I play guitar also? Somehow, we moved in to the theatre, and after a tearful Good Friday, when I about left town in frustration because I was sure the tux coats would look like bathrobes, I got all the costumes finished (except for Vera's "bold" costume). Luckily, they all fit except one, I had Monday to fix that, plus make up the missing costumes.

If anyone has ever done a play, you know tech week can be exhausting. We got through it OK, and I was sewing my last costume detail on Wednesday night, in anticipation of Thursday's dress rehearsal and picture taking night. Two inches from the end of this sewing gig, my serger quit cold on me. It was on electrically, but the gears and mechanism would not move. I took it as a sign from heaven that I was indeed done with these costumes, and that was it!

Our show started Friday, and this weekend is our second and last weekend. Hope all goes well. We got great reviews from our local theatre reviewers, that really made things feel good.

So, that is the synopsis of the last 4 months, and why blogging hasn't been on my list of things that I could accomplish in a day.

Oh, and SS send me a letter saying, "you do not have to pay us back"--HOORAY, chalk one up for the old lady, let's give her a cheer!

Trash Talking

In our neck of the woods (suburban north St. Louis County), there are many trash services (waste haulers in proper terminology) that come around each week to pick up our stuff that we cast off. That was true until March 30, when in the wisdom known only to a few, the city fathers decided to go with one trash hauler for the entire city. The rationale was that they could get a better price, trash cans would only be out in a neighborhood on one day, not five days because everyone chose their own trash service, and they came around on different days. And those heavy trucks would only be on our fragile suburban streets once a week, instead of every day. Our little neighborhood of 15 houses developed the idea that we would have only 1 trash service come on our street, it's a covenant in our homeowner's association policy. It worked for me.

This idea of one trash service per neighborhood or city has been floating around for a few years, and many of the larger incorporated suburban cities have glommed onto the idea, and have put it into place. The president of the entire county council lives on our street, so no wonder we had no choice of services, because the ideas of "trash zones" have been implemented by that governmental body, with outcry from citizenry over having no choice who takes away their cast-offs. After all, this is America, where we all have freedom of choice. Hm-m-m-m-m.

Our city council and the mayor of our fair city (population about 50000, so it's no tiny burg) decided to find one waste hauler (trashmen--NO WAY--HOW POLITICALLY INCORRECT!) to serve us all. It was differrent from the one our street had been using so it meant a change.

Now, some people embrace change, but I'm into routine, and I don't like change unless there is a compelling reason. First of all, they were right, the cost is less, I think from my last bill, it is about $2 less per month. However, they do have a great senior citizen rate, in that you get your service for half-price, and the city subsidizes this, so since I'm so old, I don't have to pay as much for my service. Change may be looking better.

Service????? Well, the first week went smoothly, except that I had my trash cans out for 3 days straight to get the day right when they picked up. You see, our illustrious and quite long-winded mayor had made a recorded call to every house in our city to tell us that we would be getting new trash service, and to look for the mailings from the city AND the company they had chosen to serve us as to the details of this change. I got the first letter from the city, with no details, but never did get the second letter.

My darling daughters, who also live in this fair city, got their letters, and my dear MonkeyGirl shared hers with me, looking out for her mother who can be forgetful at times. The letter gave me the cost breakdown, and gave the day of trash pickup. But that was why my trash cans were out for 3 days. Here's how that went down -Monday--oh, I forgot, this week we are changing trash service--that's the day the OLD service picked up--no trash pickup; Tuesday--that's what the letter said, why didn't they pick up my trash? I noticed I was the only one who had put the trash can out that day, then it finally dawned on me,oh, because the letter that said Tuesday was going to another part of the city, and MonkeyGirl got hers picked up today--so no trash pickup for me; Wednesday, well all my neighbors have their cans out, so I guess today is the day. And finally I got rid of my trash.

Now, yard waste is another issue. Since I only generated my first batch of yard waste by ignoring the tall weedy grass for weeks, this was the first week I tried to use that service. Put it out Wednesday, no yard waste pickup for me. After asking a few neighbors, I found out that yard waste gets picked up on Tuesday, or Monday, or....I'll just have to look for other yard waste cans and put mine out then.

We also have curbside recycling--I'll never figure that one out, so I'll just continue to use the city recycling center and my church for recyclables.

The last issue to be discussed here is billing. I've gotten 3 bills so far, each for a higher amount. The last one said it was due on 4/25/09--and as my calendar tells me, that's tomorrow. I sent my money on Monday 4/20/09. Then could someone tell me why I got a dunning bill from them yesterday, disclaiming my dignity as a proper bill paying citizen and demanding payment immediately or they would cut off my service?

Now for a resolution to the whole month of confusion. I've tried 7 times to call them. They must have one line and one operator, because you either get a busy signal, or it rings and rings, or you are put on hold for 8 people to finish talking to this one person before you can discuss your situation with a real live person.

Why would our fair city decide this small time operation would be able to handle the service to a large city like ours? Why couldn't they just leave well enough alone? Why? Why? Why?

In defense of the waste haulers (aka trashmen!!!! there, I've said it again!), they do a neat job, and push your can away from the curb when they are finished. They don't come at the crack of dawn and make you get up to put out the can you forgot about the night before. Their trucks are nice and white, looking all professional for our surburban fair city.

If only someone would answer the phone, I'd be happy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

One more costume to share

This costume is worn by one of the main characters in Stepping Out. She wears more costumes in this show than anyone, and each is rather distinctive!

In this scene, she comes in and changes into this outfit. She uses the line, "I just popped into Fredrick's of Hollywood and just had to have it, it was so expensive!" Then she opens to coat to reveal a rather low cut slinky outfit, made of black and red sparkle knit, bosoms ready to pop out, and says the line "It isn't too bold, is it?" while cradling her bosoms and lifting them! Then they ask the lone bumbling male for his opinion, which consists of "Well, I,'s .... You know... It's rather..." And the ladies pounce on him saying, "Well, you can't be fairer than that..." amid roars of laughter.

One of our theatre friends knits, and she made the beautiful boa for around the neck and sleeves. We didn't want feathers because they shed, so this worked out great. The style is so cute, I WANT ONE! Don't know where I'd wear it, but it did turn out cute.

The actress who plays Vera is really cute, she embraced her role and did a great job and everyone loved her antics. She was a great asset to our show, and a really teriffic tap dancer! Way to go, Vera!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The end results

These are the costumes I made for the stage show "Stepping Out" on stage April 17-18, 24, 25 and 26, 2009. Florissant Civic Center Theatre, Florissant, MO. 314-921-5678 for tickets!

American Patrol--this was their "rehearsal piece", the dance number they worked on learning throughout the entire show. Women wore royal blue lycra wrap skirts, man wore royal blue pants, all wore red/white/blue lame striped vests, with black leotards/shirts underneath, and royal blue bowlers trimmed with red/white/blue ribbons.

The Grand Finale number--one year later, they've gone "pro"! Silver grey tail coats, trimmed with black satin collars and back belts, crimson red vests (attached to the coats for the women), black slinky skirts (women), Tux pants (man) and silver lame and black top hats.

I think it all turned out rather nice myself. The challenge was to make the cast look trim and neat, because we had all sizes of dancers, from tiny to "used to be tiny". Plus they had to dance a pretty vigourous couple of dance numbers in these costumes, and the dances were back to back, with about a 2 minute change of costume window. I attached the vests to the coats for many reasons, to keep them from flapping open while they danced, and to make the change easy, put on one top garment and button it up instead of trying to wrestle with two. Both skirts were easy to slip on for the women, the man had to deal with tap shoes on and off for his change!

I'm trying to get some sleep this week, but my body is still in the adrenaline rush stage, so I've actually been able to accomplish a lot of house cleaning, with my "got to be busy every waking moment" mind set. I'll get really lazy next week!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Guess I'm Finished!

Well, the day has finally come. Tomorrow is dress rehearsal, and Friday night we open. The play, "Stepping Out" by Richard Harris, will start Friday, April 17.

I guess I'm finished with the costumes. I've sewn the final button on, nipped the final waist, trimmed the final skirt length. Tonight, I put a "silver lining" in Vera's "Fredricks of Hollywood" costume, and 2" from the end of my sewing, my serger just stopped dead in its tracks. Nothing would move, and luckily, I could wiggle the garment out from under the needles.

So, since I can't serge any more, I guess I'm finsihed.

When I get pictures, I will post them.

Here's what I made for this play:

7 blue skirts and 1 blue pair of pants, 8 striped red, white and blue lame vests--for real, and 7 "pracitce" vests of the same fabric; 8 black slinky knit skirts for the women, and 9 cutaway tuxedo coats with tails--women's have a partial vest front, and the man's has a full separate vest. They are made from silver grey upholstery fabric with a small dot in it, black satin collars and black satin back belts, crimson red vest fronts or full vests. I made the tux coats with the fake vest front for the women because they have all of about 2 minutes to change from one outfit to the other, and they don't have time to put on more garments. Plus, they move so much that a separate tux coat would be flapping around and looking sloppy. They look very neat in these. The one guy has a cutaway coat with a separate vest.

Then I made "Vera"s Fredericks of Hollywood outfit--slinky black with red metalic thread low cut blouse and pants, and her "Silver lining" jacket, with a red knitted boa all around the front and cuffs.

I was ready to throw in the towel last Friday, when I was trying to finish the tuxedo coats. I'm not a tailor, and I have problems fitting. I figured they'd all look like bathrobes, and was ready to just say, "I can't do it". But I persisted, and the director is pleased.

Even though this isn't the highest number of things I've made for shows, it was a challenge because I am also the assistant director, and being at every practice and "on the book" for line cues kept me from having time to sew. We practiced 3 times a week for 3-6 hours, sometimes all day on Sunday. I think the show will be good, and I hope we have good audiences. It has its very funny moments, and should provide a good evening of entertainment for our audiences.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Down the homestretch!

Stepping Out, a comedy by Richard Harris--April 17, 18, 24, 25, 26. James J. Eagan Civic Center Theatre--come and see it if you live in eastern Missouri!

I am 3/4 done with my costuming job for this show. Well, maybe 71.5% done! I finished my red, white and blue lame vests last night while watching the three hour ER finale. There were so many commercials during that three hours, I could get quite a bit done between scenes!

So here's what the costumes will look like. Throughout the entire show, they wear a congomeration of stuff that you would wear to dance class. Only one character, Vera, is highly dressed in exotic stuff. I need to make her a cat suit, with a flowing boa trimmed jacket, for one of her scenes.

At the end of the show, they do two tap numbers back to back. The first is their "homegrown" look number. This has a patriotic theme, and each will wear royal blue bottoms (girls wrap skirts and the guy just blue pants), red, white and blue lame striped vests, and royal blue hats. The next number, which they have just about 1 minute to change into, they will wear a black, silver and red tuxedo with silver top hats and black bottoms (girls shimmery skirts and the guy tux pants).

So my job today is to finish the tuxedo coats. I have a big block of time today and tomorrow, so if I don't find some way to waste time, I should get a pretty good chunk of work done today. I'm looking forward to being at the end of this project, because I really only have one week to go before they expect the costumes to be finished.

You can tell the color scheme of the show by looking at the shards of fabric on my sewing room floor. My little granddaughter looked in there this week and said, "Grandma, you need to clean up this mess!" So true!

I am really looking forward to designing the clothing for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which will be the production this group does during the summer. We have all of the fabric for the 12 brothers and assorted wives. Whenever I see a bargain bolt of fabric in some glittery color, I purchase it, mostly for trims. I hope that one turns out as oppulent as I envision it to be. The Dream Coat is the thing I really want to work on, that should be fun. I should start making tunics and floppy pants as soon as I'm finished with Stepping Out, because there will be no fit on the brother's outfits, only waist and length. I can make them really full, and then just adjust the waist. That play will be fun to do! Then I'm taking a break for a couple of months until Christmas Carol time.

My one theatre guru friend is directing Doubt in the fall. She asked me to help her get those costumes together, but there are only 4, and I already own a priest's cassock and roman collar. So making the nun's hats and gowns won't be hard, and the other character is the female parent. That one should be interesting.

Then I need to learn from my January stress that you don't do overlapping shows! That was crazy! I need to remember how to say "no". That song from Oklahoma last summer "I'm just a girl who can't say no" rings true when people ask me to do costumes for shows!