Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I used to be a docent at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City. I worked mostly in the petting zoo area, taking care of the animals there and explaining exhibits to zoo visitors.
Our first duty in the mornings was to feed the animals in the petting area, which involved everything from cutting up fruit to dispensing monkey chow to fetching frozen mice from the animal commissary for the variety of snakes we had on display.
We had a baby Burmese python named "Monty" (I know, we groaned too) who was kept there due to his father trying to eat him. When I arrived, you could hold Monty coiled up in one hand. By the time I left, you had to wrap Monty around one arm, in back of you at your waist and around the other arm, because he had grown from about a foot to six feet long!
The beehive also fascinated young and old alike. There was a plastic case that lead to a tube that went out of the building. Bees were busily building a hive and producing honey and I was oh, so glad they were behind that plastic!
One Sunday, early in the morning, before the zoo opened, I took my little stroll through the area and when I came to the pen at the end of the animal building, saw some sort of cow critter (the precise species name eludes me because this was more than 30 years ago), who was obviously male stalking around the area. There were also a number of goats who were doing their level best to stay on the opposite side of the pen.
Well, they don't call it wildlife for nothing.
Peace, out, y'all. Thanks for joining me (and all of us crazy bloggers) on my (our) A to Z journey this April!
Two of my favorite moments from Young Frankenstein:
1. Igor saying "Blucher" to the horses to frighten them, and which even now I cannot say without neighing.
2. Blucher's statement, "Your fiancee is here, I suggest you put on a tie."
What is/are your favorite YF movie moment(s)?
I am a Christian.
I am an American.
I am a Caucasian.
Those three statements alone are enough for most people to (at least start to) form an opinion on who I am and what I am like. Taken to an irrational end, it becomes xenophobia, a fear or hatred of someone or something different from oneself.
Race, nationality and religion are but three of the categories into which people try to pigeonhole one another in order to create an "us" and "them" atmosphere.
I remember a festival in Salt Lake City called "Living Traditions". My mother and brother were part of a Swiss Chorus that performed each year. After that performance, for 2.5 days we enjoyed the music, dance, crafts and foods of groups from all over the world, many of which we experienced at no other time of year. That's what made it so great.
But like most things, differences can be used for evil ends as well. I know this will bring some negative comments but I've got to say it. The religion professed by the 9-11 terrorists was Islam. I say 'professed by' because it is my belief that these men used the claim of being Islamic to garner support from people who are xenophobic about things that are not Islamic. Does this mean that all Muslims are terrorists. No!
I know a number of people (some in my own family) do not agree with a mosque being built near 'ground zero' in NYC; I do not understand their objection. Islam did not commit that horrible event; a group of terrorists claiming to be Muslims were responsible. Can we in good faith and with justice punish a whole group for the actions of a few?
Yes, I am Christian; I also have friends with a wide array of beliefs.
Yes, I am an American; I also have friends all over the world.
Yes, I am white; I also do not pick my friends and associates by the color of their skin.
As my 16th wedding anniversary is quickly approaching (May 9th), it seemed appropriate to write a little about the drama surrounding our wedding.
This would be my second wedding. Although my first husband had been out of the picture (and out of the state) since about 6 months after my first wedding, I did not have the money for a divorce. Having met the man who is now my husband shortly after that point over the computer, he came out for a one-week visit to Utah and, well, never really left.
My mother and brother were to be there, of course, and Chris's mother was coming in from San Francisco, where she lived at the time. Add to them a couple of friends as witnesses and that made up our wedding party - well, along with our son, who was five months old at the time. The justice of the peace who was to perform the ceremony usually did them in her courtroom. But as this was the same officiant as in my first wedding, I did not really want to do that. So she offerred having the ceremony at her home. I thought that was nice.
The day before the wedding was to take place, we learned that a couple of my soon-to-be-husband's aunts may be coming into town from Texas. I called the judge to let her know and she said she could not possibly handle that many people at her house.
So - THE DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING - we went shopping for someone new to perform the ceremony. I think we went alphabetically through the yellow pages and at the Unitarian Church in the area, we finally found a female preacher who agreed to perform the ceremony. Chris and I hot-footed it down to her church and went through the readings and vows we would like to have used.
All in all, it went rather well, considering the chaos of the preceeding 24 hours. We had the ceremony in my mother's living room, which was nice especially because there was a painting of my father, who had passed away some years before, on a wall - so it was almost like he was there. My brother held my son up in front of him so he (at 5 months old, remember) could catch the garter.
Then the entire wedding party went out to supper at a local restaurant, the Della Fontana, which featured 7-course meals and of which I already had fond memories. According to a newspaper article, it is now a sushi restaurant. How sad. The building, and old (I mean, old) church was much better suited to Della Fontana.
Our honeymoon consisted of one night at a local residence inn while my mother-in-law took care of our son. We're still working on the honeymoon part. But then, we are still working on the marriage, too. That will never cease to be the case.
In the summer of 1991 (or was it 1992), I had an opportunity to go to Cedar City, Utah, for a 10-day acting program associated with the Utah Shakespearean Festival. We arrived on a Friday and left on a Monday. During the course of the week we got to see each of the six plays presented at the festival, one a night from the first Monday through the following Saturday. We each also got to perform a monologue and a scene from Shakespeare (coached by two different festival actors) on the outdoor "Globe"-style theatre.
My monologue character was Volumnia, mother of the title character from Coriolanus. Not a play that gets presented a lot, and not a character many would pick, but the whole imposing female thing had worked for me before...at least on the stage. My scene was from As you Like It, playing Audrey (a very, v-e-r-y simple country girl to my scene partner's Touchstone). Again, at my second entrance, the audience erupted in laughter. Something my monologue coach said has stuck with me ever since, "To be great, you have to give up being good." That is something I struggle with - attaining a certain level of proficiency and then settling into a comfort zone and hibernating.
Anyway, what does all this have to do with Venice? Well, one of the plays presented that year was "The Merchant of Venice". For those unfamiliar with the play, Portia has many suitors, in part owing to her father's enormous wealth, which became hers when her father passed away. But in order to win her hand, each suitor must pick from amongst a gold, a silver and an iron box. One of the boxes has a picture of Portia, and if the suitor picks that box, he gets the girl. Bassanio wants Portia, and Portia is partial to Bassanio, but they are bound by the deceased father's edicts.
In the meantime, two other suitors, Princes of Morocco and Arragon, make their choices, to former choosing the gold box and the latter choosing the silver. The provisions of the test stipulate that they may never again choose and they may not tell anyone else their choice.
Well, the director of this production included a device where it was actually Bassanio in costume as both of the princes, in turn. Aside from the obvious problems in ethics, it was one of the more inventive things I've seen done with a Shakespeare play in a long time, so I liked it. Not so my associates. After each play we had a discussion (late at night). Some of the comments were downright vitriolic (oooh, there's another good "v" word for today).
It put me in mind of another production of Shakespeare I saw at the Pioneer Memorial Theatre on the University of Utah campus, where the setting was in the 1940's era. At one point, the main character breaks the fourth wall and says, "What, you don' like this? You prefer the traditional style of Shakespeare play like they do in Cedar City?" At which point, he dropped his mobster-trousers, showing that he had on the tights and pantaloons of a more expected Shakespearean performance. If I had had a drink in my mouth, I would have spewed. Seriously, it was that funny.
One day I would like to see the real city of Venice, but until then I have my memories of the merchant.
We get up in the morning before the sun
Get our breakfast when the milking is done
Later in the day we make the cheese
While the cows play a song on their ukuleles.
We make the bread, we make the money
We cover the slices with butter and honey
The honey is made by our friendly bees
While they sing a song on their ukuleles.
Later we get ready for the luau
Friends are arriving already now
Birds tweet happily in the trees
Serenading us on their ukuleles.
At the feast I tell my friends
We have the dancing after eating ends
My friends are always good to me
So I make them this song on my ukulele.
Monday, April 29, 2013
I have been involved with at least three plays starting with the letter "T", or at least having one of the main words in the title starting with that letter.
The first was "Top Girls", a play by Caryl Churchill, is about a woman who chooses to pursue career success instead of family life. Due to being produced at Westminster College of SLC, which is a relatively small institution in Utah, and the abundance of characters in this play, most of the actresses portrayed multiple characters, including me. I played Dull Gret, a character actually from a painting by Pieter Breughil, of a woman dressed in armor and wielding household weapons. At a 'dinner' featuring the main character and several from throughout some revisionist history, Dull Gret speaks coarsely and steals from other people's plates. My mother called the actress that played the female Pope "the Pope" each time she saw her afterwards. The second character I played was Joyce, the main character's sister and the one who raised her sister's illegitimate daughter. The young woman who played the daughter (who also had played the Pope), took to calling me "Auntie-Mum". And the last character I played was "Louise", a middle-aged woman returning to the workforce, interviewing for a job with the main character, a woman much younger than she.
My second "T" play was "A Thurber Carnival", by James Thurber. The play was directed by David Dean, who had also directed the production of Beckett's "Happy Days" in which I played Winnie. I remember dancing across the stage from stage left to right, running around through the shop to dance across the stage again in the same direction as before. I got an extra line from another in the ensemble cast because the actor would not alter his "gosh darn" to the other phrase that was actually in the script; I had no such compunctions those twenty years ago. The two scenes I actually remember was playing someone's aging mother, who comically misunderstood practically everything her son wrote her in a letter. The bonus was that you got to see the son's increasingly exasperated reactions in the background. After leaving the stage in that scene, I was in the next one as well, playing a woman whose husband was trying to get rid of her because he wanted to make some time with a sweet young thing. My costume change consisted of taking off a cardigan and rolling my shirt sleeves up. (Suspension of disbelief is a wonderful thing, isn't it?) All I had to do was step on stage and the crowd erupted in laughter. I like to think it is because the persona was so different from the previous character. What was faltering physical and mental health became physical strength and strength of purpose - with a shovel.
The last "T" play was Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew". But given the overwhelming ratio of female to male actors at a small college, the director (who was the professor who replaced the original professor who had one too many lapses in her battle with drugs) had an interesting idea: have women play the male roles and the men play the female roles. There was also a little "pre-play" added where the men were all drunk, hence the necessity of reversing the gender roles. So I played Gremio, the older suitor of Kate's younger sister, Bianca.
Sleeping quiet six feet under
Makes a body start to wonder
How are my loved ones getting by
Would there be tears in each one's eye
That's not really what I want
Salty drops from nature's font
Though I miss them to be sure
A brief apart we must endure
Until the day we meet again
Circled 'round by kith and ken
Sleeping quiet six feet under
Makes a body start to wonder
Sunday, April 28, 2013
"La Ronde" is a play by Arthur Schnitzler about morals in 1890s Vienna. Written first in German, it found a more accepting audience with the French, due to in each of 10 scenes a succession of couples...well, couple. The characters in the various scenes are as follows:
- maid/young gentleman
- young gentleman/young wife
- young wife/husband
- husband/young gentlewoman
- young gentlewoman/poet
This was another play performed by students at Westminster college in the early 1990s. In our production, the lights went out during the middle of each scene, where the audiences used their imaginations as to what took place in the meantime (*wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*). I do not remember very much about the production, really. We used the same set that was used by the TWW (TheatreWorks West) production of "A...My Name is Alice", so some of the staging was rather ... creative.
I portrayed "the actress" in the play. In one of the scenes, I had to step behind a screen (on stage) and change into a nightgown while maintaining the dialogue with my scene partner. It was a jade colored spaghetti strap gown with black lace and beads at the neckline. I remember it partly because it was one of my own, and not provided by the costume department, and it came from the Avon catalog.
The next paragraph may make some people uncomfortable who do not like open discussions of things "adult" in nature. If you are such a person, please skip the next paragraph.
Both my scene partners were gay. Well, the poet hadn't come out yet; in fact, at the time, he had a live-in girlfriend, who had been involved over the internet previously to the man who eventually became my second husband.. The actor who played the poet and his girlfriend lived with a man to whom they introduced me after a performance of "Bell, Book and Candle" for which I had given them comp tickets. We went out a couple of times until I found out he was married. How did I find out, you ask? When his wife came home from vacation toting her 19-year old boyfriend! And THEN it got weird. I tell you, I could write a book!
I hope I have not shocked anyone too much. I am not the person now I was then. But it happened, and I believe it really is a waste of time to try and hide things, even if they could be embarrassing. Of course, I have the lens of a 20-year time span between then and now.
Time is not on my side - yet - in the recent fracas with our neighbors. I would like to release the events of the last week or so that happened between us and them, and written about in my "P" and "Q" posts. I want to diminish and eventually erase the emotional hold it has had on me and would appreciate any tips of methods that have worked for you, as well as any prayers, good thoughts and wishes, you would care to send my way. I am ready to be done with it.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Any of you who have visited in the last few days, know that my husband and I are engaged in a little feud with our next-door neighbors who have a dog kennel/training service. Not that their dogs are a nuisance. We are dog people. Currently, we have seven of our own. Yes, it makes for a crowded, crazy and chaotic apartment sometimes, but we have been working with the local Humane Society to find a rescue for three of the puppies who need forever homes.
Well, yesterday she took it a step further...and posted pictures into our back yard from a second-story window of her house. Since she added comments showing her interpretation of the photos and believes they hold up her side of the story, I don't think she'll mind if I link to them here. I apologize for over-snarkiness in my commentary, but neither will I take her abuse lying down.
But I said questions, didn't I? Bad writer. Sit. Stay.
1. In the first photo, there is a picture of the raised garden y'all put in last year. I had been going to compliment you on it because I think it looks very nice. Now ... well, it does still look nice, but I don't think I'll say anything. Why did you feel the need to make the angle wide enough to show into my back yard and catch a view of my 10 year old daughter?
2. The second photo is also purportedly of your garden, commenting on the fence. It is a decent looking fence. Two questions here. Running a dog training service with approximately a dozen dogs boarded there at any given time, and given your penchant for absolute quiet and lack of distraction during training sessions, why did you not have a privacy fence up in the first place? Why title the photo album "dogs still charging fence"?
3. Quite frankly, the third picture puzzles me. If you are close enough to my dogs to judge their motives in running by the fence when someone or some of your dogs are close to it, why can't you see that Brownie is a girl dog?
4. Photo #4. Yep, those are a couple of vicious 6-month old puppies charging at your fence intent on doing you and yours harm. Oh wait, aren't they running parallel to the fence and about 15 feet away from it? I do object to the comment made by one of your 'friends' which suggests electrifying the fence and injuring my dogs. Don't all dogs have the same rights in their own yards? Or, maybe your dogs are 'more equal' than ours, because you apparently own your home (it is on the market) and we are only 'apartment squatters' (those are your exact words).
5. Photo #5. Perhaps you need to get your eyes checked. Yes, that is my husband through the trees. His arms are not crossed. They are by his sides. Why did the picture include a view of my daughter's face? What is missing from all of the pictures, are any dogs on either side of the fence...charging.
Would it make a difference to your report to know that when you took the above pictures, we had a visitor in the parking lot...who just happened to be associated with the local Humane Society, come to take a look at the pups to help us place them with a rescue? Would it make a difference to your version of events if she knew the HS knew about the pictures...and the weapon? Would it make a difference to your report if I said we had proof?
So many questions....so little time.
Monday, April 22, 2013
I'm still here, and still intend to complete my A to Z posts, but some problems have intruded on my time the past week or so and my posting has been sporadic at best.
Our neighbors run a dog boarding and training business. There are at least a dozen dogs of all shapes and sizes over there at any given time. Not a problem. The yards have a chain-link fence between them and while the dogs run up and bark at each other, there has been no canine violence on either side.
A couple of days ago, I went to the park with my daughter. While we were gone, the humans were less well-behaved than the dogs. While my husband and our 14 and 16-year-old sons were in the back yard with our dog and 6 puppies, the woman came out from next door with some sort of weapon and took three shots at the fence line!
They have thrown rocks through the fence at our dogs before. I said if I ever saw it again, I'd be up over the fence and in their faces. But to shoot at them? And while my sons were in the back yard. H-e-double-toothpicks NO!
They called the sheriff on us. We called the sheriff on them. In the meantime, my husband went to the fence line to talk with the man who lives there. I went with him, hoping to be a calming influence on everyone concerned. His claims included that our dogs rushed the fence, attempting to "get at" their poor small dogs and at the man on the riding lawn mower. My husband brought up the weapon that the woman had, having pointed it at our fence. He said, "No, she was shooting at our dogs." First of all, we have the exchange recorded. Second of all, what is she doing pointing a gun at dogs for whom she is supposed to be caring anyway???
I ask: if there is someone walking by your home, or dogs in your neighbors' yards, or someone mowing the lawn, what does a dog do? Bark and run closer? Uh, probably, yeah. Does it mean that they have evil intent when they run up to you? Uh, no. However, the woman with the dog business claims also to have a degree in psychology, so maybe that makes her an expert in doggie motives...I honestly don't know.
When the sheriff did arrive, he went to the neighbors' first. When he came here, we learned that they had conveniently forgotten to bring up the gun.
The woman later decided to trash us on her Facebook pages, both personal and professional. She called us 'apartment squatters', said the deputy was on their side and bemoaned that they 'had to pay $700" to put up a privacy fence. (Wouldn't that be a good idea for a dog trainer anyway?)
Funny, because when the sheriff came over to our building, we did inform him of the gun, he saw how scared my older son was, and he told us he didn't blame us for being upset. But there was no report generated, and he didn't even take names or anything.
We had been working with the local Humane Society to get three of the puppies to a rescue organization for some time now, but so are a lot of people...so it just takes however long it's going to take. The HS rep came to our house today, as I had explained to her what had been happening, and said that she had heard both good and "not so good" things about the training business next door.
So for now, the problematic incident has gone no further. Cross your fingers for us.
For something happier that took place over the weekend, come back later for my "R" post!
Friday, April 19, 2013
The spring of 1992 was a very busy time for me. Not only was I in my last semester of college, but I was also involved in three plays: "Ladies' Room", "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", and "Happy Days".
Originally, I was supposed to be the light board technician for Cuckoo's Nest. I had assisted the lighting designer in getting the individual lights placed and set, and setting the various light cues as per her direction. Then, a week before opening night, the director came to me and said that one of the actresses had had to drop out of the production, and would I mind taking on the role of Rose, one of the prostitutes that is snuck into the asylum. Oh...gee...acting. Let me think about that! OF COURSE!
That lead to one of the more off-beat experiences of my life: going bra-shopping at the local Sears with the costume director, who was male. What we found was part-60's and part-Madonna and definitely "pointy". That, along with turning a sweater with a v-back around, lead to a ... ahem... very appropriate costume for a "party girl". When we "unveiled" the costume for the director, she screamed!
I had a very elaborate pre-performance ritual for this play, more so than for any production I've ever done. The dressing rooms were complete with showers. I would arrive about two hours early, wash my hair, get dressed in my "costume" and begin with my hair and makeup. I went with the premise, 'the higher the hair, the closer to heaven', adding at least 6" to my height. Even the makeup was fun, because I got to do a lot more than I usually wore. The fire engine-red lipstick was a bonus, as I usually wore mousier color, when I wore any makeup at all.
Of course, I would live to be embarrassed by that lipstick. The actor who played Chief Bromden and I shared a kiss backstage during intermission. I had forgotten that bright red lipstick. But apparently it was quite apparent when the Chief went back into the men's dressing room. Well, he took more ribbing than I did. It was one of the larger casts with whom I'd worked and the male-to-female ratio in Cuckoo's Nest wasn't terrible either.
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was probably the most purely fun production in which I was involved.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I had excellent nursing care each of the three times I had a baby. I have also worked with nurses in a residential facility for adults with mental retardation and developmental disabilities. And, as I have not yet been involved in a play that starts with the letter "N", I could not have come up with a better topic for today.
The first time was in 1996. I went into the hospital for a stress test on a Friday afternoon. My blood pressure had been giving me fits and the doctor said it would be best to just keep me there and induce delivery. Saturday morning at roughly 9:00 a.m., my water broke. I called a nurse and she said, "Well let's just check." I'm sure they would have had to check anyway, but I kind of took it as, "You're not a professional ..." I was a first-time mother-to-be, older than most, and scared as all ... um, get out, yeah, that's the word. Most of the time I did not even know I was in the same room. Sunday morning, shortly after 5:00 a.m., our little son was born. After the main event, my first question was, "WHEN CAN I EAT?" I had spent nearly two days consuming nothing but ice chips and this mama was h-u-n-g-r-y! A nurse offered to help me get out of bed and walk to the shower and called my husband over to get on the other side. I was all like "I can do this." About one second after my feet hit the floor, I found out that I was very, very wrong. And the nurse didn't even snicker.
The second delivery was in Texas in May of 1998. By that time there had already been numerous 100 degree plus days. We lived in Fort Worth and my doctor was in Arlington. On Memorial Day, I started feeling "puny", as one of my husband's uncles calls it, so we went to the ER of a local hospital. My blood pressure was 191/109. They decided to keep me for observation. Several hours later, they decided to induce. I couldn't get an epidural this time, because of a squirrely test result. And, since it was Memorial Day, there was no one in my doctor's office. Those poor nurses. I know I said a few things that I can't reprint here. My poor husband. I dislocated one of his fingers from squeezing his hand so hard, and have absolutely no recollection of it whatsoever. And I should've bought that post-op nurse a new pair of shoes, because I'm sure she wore holes in the ones she had bringing me juice whenever I was thirsty.
The third and last baby arrived two months early in February 2003. I went into one hospital; they transferred me to another one with a bigger NICU by ambulance. Thirty minutes after I arrived, I went into surgery for an emergency c-section. I was in maternity and my baby was in NICU, two floors below. I was able to go down the day after (in a wheelchair). There were big tub-like hand-washing basins at the entrance to NICU. Our daughter was in "room 3" of four rooms, with the higher numbers being more serious cases. I could only stick my hand in through a little hole and touch my baby. One nurse had two babies to look after, so they got excellent, excellent care. I do cringe however, even now when I think of the poor nurse that had to clean up after me, as while we were leaving, I tossed every cookie I had ever eaten into one of those big tub wash basins. When, two days after the delivery, I had such a bad migraine headache that I had to have someone pull the blinds and keep the room dim, a nurse gently reminded me that the morphine drip was at my control and that I could get a dose if I was in pain. And the angel who came to take out my metal staples kept up a steady stream of soothing words while she worked ... I hardly felt a thing.
I literally cannot say enough about the nurses with whom I worked, women and men both. They had all the pressures of any nurse, plus some related to the population whom we served. And the administration? Don't even get me started. Come to think of it, these brave people deserve their own post someday, and this one is too long already.
What I've been trying to say is that nurses have extremely demanding and stressful jobs. If you know one well enough to give them a hug, do it. If you don't know one that well, give them a "thanks" and a handshake. Believe me, they deserve it.
Monday, April 15, 2013
"Ladies' Room" is a play written by Utah playwright Aden Ross. I actually performed the same character in this play twice in two years. It was produced by Girlfriends Productions at the Art Barn in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The play is set in a ladies' restroom in the Caesar's Palace Casino in Las Vegas. Characters included a lesbian blackjack dealer, a female seminary student hanging out in the ladies' room studying while waiting for a bus, a showgirl, and older woman with a gambling problem, one character I just can't bring to mind at the momen (but I know I'm going to smack myself because it will come to me right after I hit 'publish') and the cleaning woman, played by yours truly.
This character was a real challenge for me, not because I had never done that kind of work in real life (I have). The cleaning woman was supposed to come onstage singing...nearly every entrance. And not just any songs...Aretha Franklin songs. Given my lack of musical theatre history, and the fact I had been told I should do something else because I had no future in musical theatre ... I was about as intimidated as I could get. For weeks of rehearsal I refused to sing the lines, and would only recite the lyrics. Finally the patient, but exasperated director said, "I don't care what it sounds like. The character is a cleaning woman. It's not supposed to be Aretha." So I whisper-sang. There was encouraging positive response.
One of my castmates made me a tape (that dates this production, eh?) of all the various Aretha songs in the play, as well as some other goodies for inspiration. I also wound up using one of the other songs, "Jesus is Easy", by Martin Mull (of all people). I'm sure some people will take that as sacrilegious but to someone who does not feel worthy, it can speak to Jesus's forgiving nature, IMO.
A local club gave the cast and crew a year's membership each, and a lot of nights we would wind up there (especially on karaoke night). The first time I got up to sing, I needed a couple of vodkas to screw up my courage. And I sat at the table shaking afterwards, but other than that it was a success. BTO's "Takin' Care of Business" became my signature piece. Why no Aretha? That was the hostess's choice.
In the second production, the woman who had played the dealer became the seminary student. The woman who had been the older woman was then the dealer, and there were one or two new actresses to fill the vacancies.
I learned a lot in and from "The Ladies' Room".
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Mama, she ain't doin' well
Can hardly ring the dinner bell.
Papa's in the churchyard now
Brother has to milk the cow.
Farmin's hard but we get to it
Life is hard but we get through it
Sister she done had a date
Boy brought her home a l'il too late
Nine months later had a baby
they're in trouble. Don't mean maybe.
Farmin's hard but we get to it.
Life is hard but we get through it.
The flood well it took most our crops
We're brewin' with the neighbors' hops.
Tax man wants to take the farm.
Hope he don't come to no harm.
Farmin's hard but we get to it.
Life is hard but we get through it.
Farmin's hard but we get to it.
Life is hard, but we get through it.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Who is Jesus?
To Christians, He is the Son of God, one of the Holy Trinity.
I got to wondering who Jesus was to people of other religions.
According to Wikipedia, Muslims consider Jesus a Muslim prophet and the Messiah. They believe he was born into this world by a virgin birth, but did not taste of death as we humans know it. Allah is supreme and has no equals or partners. There will be a day of judgment where Jesus returns to the earth to defeat the anti-Christ.
Again, according to Wikipedia, Jews, like Muslims to not believe that God has an equal. However, unlike Christians and Muslims, they do not believe Jesus is the Messiah, because He did not fulfill the traditional Messianic prophecies of Judaism, and could not because these events have not yet happen.
I came to write this after wondering what Jesus and Muhammed would say to each other if they had a chance to sit down together and talk. Of course, anything I would post would be my opinion of what these men would say/have said, and I certainly do not wish to offend anyone's beliefs.
If I have misstated beliefs of my Muslim or Jewish sisters and brothers, please accept my apologies and leave a comment respectfully setting me straight. Frankly, I was surprised to find certain threads of commonality linking the different religions. Not enough, of course, to stop arguments and fighting, but the ideological similarities are there nonetheless.
For myself, I was raised in a Christian church, and while I do not always attend, I do consider myself to be a Christian. There is something called "The Golden Rule" (in Christianity) and most traditions have a similar saying. By all means, leave a comment expressing your spiritual beliefs, whatever they may be. I look forward to reading them, and maybe opening some discussion. Lastly, please respect the opinions of others even if they differ from your own.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
"The Importance of Being Earnest", a comedy by Oscar Wilde, will always hold a special place in my heart.
Ten years, two continents and countless jobs after I dropped out of college after a soul-stifling year of studying a subject in which I had no interest, and being told I had no future in theatre, I saw a notice for auditions at my college for this play. I thought to myself, "I should do that!" Then I walked closer for the details. OH NO! The auditions were that afternoon. That little "don't even think about it" voice that we all have started shouting, "It's too quick. I don't have anything prepared. I can't do it."
From out of who-knows-where, a different voice whispered, "Go ahead. Just try it. If you don't get cast, you'll be no worse off than you are right now, and you'll won't have to wonder 'what if'."
So, I went. Luckily, years of Anglophilia and watching countless reruns of 'Brit-coms' paid off. Then came the waiting until the next evening until the cast list was posted. I walked down the steps to the door on which the list was posted to find that I had been cast as Lady Bracknell. I floated back to my car and went to my job at Domino's. I still remember telling everyone there, as many times as they would listen, for oh, the entire shift.
Rehearsals went - well, as rehearsals go. I was sharing an apartment with three other young women at the time. I remember memorizing by typing out each line 5 times, then typing two consecutive lines 5 times, up to five lines at a time, going through the scene that way and then whittling down the list at the end. Kind of anal, I know, but hey, it worked.
Three days before opening night, at our last Sunday rehearsal, the director (our professor) did not show up and attempts to contact her were unfruitful. As we could not get into the theatre space, we decided to do a line-through in the lobby. Instead of Earnest's younger brother being carried off in Paris by a chill, we all had Southern accents and the young man was carried off in the bayou by syphilis. I have never laughed so hard without chemical assistance in my life.
The next night, a substitute director/professor came in and let us know that the former director had had an 'incident' and she would be in the hospital for some time, but not to worry, the show would go on. The show must go on...right? I remember my costume being pinned and worked on during the final dress rehearsal.
There were four performances. My mother attended each one, often with other people in tow. I forgot lines once during the run of the show, but luckily the actor playing Earnest made up a line that sparked my memory.
I guess I didn't do too badly, because I was fortunate to be involved in 5-6 plays per year for the next 5 years or so, often acting, but also doing tech work, directing, etc etc etc.
So, what is the moral of today's story? If you really want something in your life and it's not there yet, evaluate your perceived limitations to see which ones are real. For instance, I will never be an Olympic athlete. But one day I may get to visit the Olympics. Our dreams may not come true in the way or when we want, but if we 'earnestly' (sorry for the pun, but I couldn't resist) seek something, we can usually manifest our dream in some form.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
If you came here lookin' for 'the Fonz', you will be disappointed. Sorry. The "Happy Days" about which I am writing is the play written by Samuel Beckett in 1960-1961. Beckett was born in Ireland and lived most of his adult life in France. In 1969, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He wrote books and plays, of which 'Happy Days' is one.
In 'Happy Days', the main character, Winnie, is buried up to her waist in dirt. The sun shines 24 hours a day, and she is woken and notified of time to sleep by the ringing of an alarm. Winnnie's purse is filled with all her precious things, many of the same as you would find in women's purses today, with the addition of a revolver and a music box. Every day they are spread out in a certain order across the mound of dirt that encases her, and every night they go back into the bag. And she talks how every day "will have been a happy day"
Admittedly, a Beckett production takes some getting used to. My first experience was with "Waiting for Godot". It was produced by the Utah Shakespearean Festival, which is phenomenal; I had also not read the play first or attempted to find anything out about it or Beckett. There was so much repetition, and the play was so absurd...that my mother and I left during intermission. I know. Looking back it makes me cringe to think I dd that.
I played Winnie in 'Happy Days' during the same month I wrapped up my college degree in Finance. A man you had worked with my theatre professor had wanted to do this play for a while. The professor probably had the acting chops to do the role, but it was a college production and therefore needed student actors, and my professor...had certain chemical issues during that time period. Maybe my mind is clouded by t h e distance of time, but I think the director wanted me to play the part...because I don't remember auditioning. I got to play some fantastic characters that normally went to older actresses. But then, I've always been described as 'older' than I am chronologically.
Winnie mentions "The Merry Widow Waltz" during her ramblings, so the director had a music box specially made with that tune. Wow...talk about a humbling experience.
I had done another play at the Art Barn in February. During March I was supposed to be light technician for 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next" - but one of the actresses had to drop out and they asked me to take her part about a week before. I probably should have refused given the size of the task awaiting me in April, but it was acting, so of course I said, "I'd LOVE to!"
Lest I forget, in the second act, Winnie is covered up to her neck in the dirt. The first act lasted about 30 minutes, the second act about 15-20. The only other character is Willie, Winnie's husband, who lives in a cave on the back side of the mound. He speaks about a total of 40 words the entire play.
I spoke with my "Cases in Financial Management" professor, whose class was once a week on Tuesdays, about getting out early in order to make evening rehearsals. He was very agreeable. In fact, on the night of the final dress rehearsal, unbeknownst to me, he allowed all the students to leave early ... provided they attended the rehearsal. I was so touched; my performance was very emotional that night.
I came to the conclusion that Beckett is like Shakespeare. At first glance, sometimes both appear incomprehensible. But once you know the plot, relax, and let yourself go into the flow of the words...beautiful stories emerge.
Monday, April 8, 2013
In my early 30's, I was involved with two plays that started with the letter "G": "Gertrude Stein and a Companion" by Win Wells and "Girl Bar", by ... well, I really don't know who wrote it and entering "girl bar" in a search engine brings up a list ad infinitum of lesbian bars and articles on the same.
When I auditioned for "Gertrude Stein", I did it because I knew the ladies producing the play. I knew little or nothing about Gertrude Stein herself, except for maybe the "rose is a rose is a rose" quote. I remember reading lines with a woman whom I thought looked more the part. I'm still not sure why they chose me, but I'm glad they did because I love/d acting and Gertrude was a juicy big part!
Here is a picture of the couple in their Paris digs:
Apparently, the Saturday night gatherings the ladies used to host, involving many writers and painters who were or went on to be famous. According to Wikipedia, Alice used to be hostess to the women in a separate room, while Gertrude and the men had the salon. Figure that one out. I had developed a curiosity as to why Gertrude and Alice escaped the treatment of most Jews in occupied France in WWII. From what I could discover, it was some combination of knowing someone in the government with the right connections, and the fact that they were famous and American.
Our production was performed at the Art Barn in Salt Lake City. At that time, there was an art gallery on the main floor, the basement was set up for meeting space and the 2nd floor was used often for theatrical productions.
A year or so later, I got a call from the art professor at Westminster College who asked if I wanted to sit in character for his portrait painting class. It was paid and I was poor and in college so I said yes. I would have done it anyway. This professor had broken one of my art phobias by having us draw a still life - looking at the objects and moving our pencil around the paper. So there was no expectation of a photograph-like drawing. He did bemoan the fact that there was so much black, but in the Picasso version of the real Gertude, there was so much brown.
The second play was called "Girl Bar", at least to the best of my recollection. Any memorabilia I might still have is packed away in storage in Utah, since my mother's house was sold last month. We performed it in "The Sun" bar, a popular gay-friendly bar in Salt Lake City. I played Drew, the play's 'token butch'. I smoked nearly the entire play, and felt bad for the audience, because they were not allowed to smoke during the show.
There were one or two 'panel discussions' with the cast and crew after performances. For one such discussion I changed after the show into a dress I had made specially for that event. It was from a red velvet floor length skirt I had bought for $1.00 at a thrift store. As I went to try it on for the first time, I unzipped the 7" side zipper and the skirt got hung up just south of my shoulders...not stuck, but not in much danger of falling either. I added some white feathery boa to the 'neckline', and my $1 transformed into a kickin' strapless cocktail dress that got its own round of applause at the bar that night.
Forgive my lapses of memory from things that happened 20 years ago (yuck, I feel old now), but their are few other memories of note about this production. I did stop for a couple of Dr. Peppers and a pack of Marlboro reds in a box as part of my pre-performance ritual each night.
My most outstanding memory of this show has to do with my mother. Go figure on that one too. Ever since I had started acting, my mother had attended at least one showing of each production in which I was involved. At a family dinner at the Little America Hotel Coffee Shop (each January 17th, we would eat there to commemorate our arrival in/move to Salt Lake City), I told her where the play was going to be performed. She informed me that she "didn't think she'd be able to attend that show". Naturally, I was disappointed, but I understood as well. My brother eventually talked her into it. She must have been quite a sight, a little white-haired older lady entering a gay bar just over the train tracks. But I gave her props, then and ever since. That, and the time I had to tell her I was pregnant out of wedlock (at the age of 35) and her reaction to such, showed her love for me more than anything I can remember.
So, after the performance she attended with my brother, I went up to them afterwards and gave them hugs. My mother looked at me and said, "I just have one question for you." I thought, "Oh, good gravy, here it comes."
"Did you inhale on that cigar," she asked. "Only once, Mom," I responded, "I learned my lesson."
Saturday, April 6, 2013
I remember holidays at our house when I was growing up to be small gatherings, usually just my father (until he passed in 1979), my mother, my brother and me. Several times in the past 7-8 years, we have driven from Somerset, KY, to the Fort Worth, TX, area for Thanksgiving or Christmas with some of my in-laws. In the last four years, we've made the trip twice - with our dog. Luckily we had gotten a Suburban a couple of years ago, which made that a lot more feasible. Once, we borrowed a local family member's van.
[One nice thing about the trips, however, was that we seem to have overcome our 'Arkansas Curse'. Twice, when we lived in Texas and visited Kentucky, our vehicles broke down on the same 20-mile stretch of I-40 in Arkansas, necessitating my FIL (father-in-law) to drive down from Kentucky and rescue us.]
My MIL (mother-in-law) likes 'big'. She does big gatherings really well. Family at Thanksgiving or Christmas, and her husband's Marine buddies on Independence Day. When we are there at Thanksgiving, we help decorate for Christmas. When we are there at Christmas, we help take down the holiday decorations.
Anyway, here's who showed up to the last couple of family celebrations:
- Cheryl and Vince - MIL and hubby
- me, my husband, son 1, son2, daughter
- Aunt Rose, Uncle Johnny, Uncle Johnny's mother
- Cousin J Lee and his wife
- Aunt Sheila
- Cousin Jennifer (Sheila's biological daughter whom she was forced to give up the day she was born), her husband, their son and daughter
- Cousin Jason, his wife, their two sons
- Cousin Tara and her husband (and at the next celebration their new baby will be there as well)
That makes 23 at my count. So different from the first half of my life (so far) ... and nice, as well.
For instance, the year I moved out of my mother's house, she went to a 4-ft "fake" Christmas tree. I'm sure the last few years, since my mother had moved to a nursing home, no decorations went up at all. In Texas, there is a big tree in the living room, a smaller-yet-still-impressive tree in the family room (where the presents go), a Marine tree in Vince's 'man-cave' and bits of green wrapped around room accent that doesn't move.
Yup. I'm a lucky gal when it comes to family!
Friday, April 5, 2013
(Although my theme for A to Z is 'plays in which I have been involved', some letters I just cannot cover. Today is one of those days, so I have taken a humorous look at a certain type of shopping trip.)
As a mom blogger, the vast majority of my posts are geared towards women. But for the gentlemen who stop by during the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, and in the interests of equality, I have decided that it is time to "do one for the boys".
Guys, if you are married to or in a relationship with a woman, at one point you will most likely be asked to purchase your significant other some feminine hygiene products. This activity need not strike terror, or even cause much embarrassment.
First, take your cart or basket to the aisle halfway back the store and casually walk the width of the store, to get your initial idea of where these products are located. If you make it through that without breaking into a sweat, next stroll the aisle directly to the left of the battle zone (when facing the rear of the store). If there is something in that aisle that you need, by all means, pick it up and place it in your cart.
Secondly, when you come to the end of that aisle, turn towards the aisle where the feminine hygiene products are located. If your heart starts to pound, feel free to walk to whichever aisle holds something that you need anyway, then return to the aisle on the opposite side of the hygiene products aisle and walk down it. Again, if there is something you need, place one or more items in your cart. Do not, however, place items around the edges of your cart in order to leave a depression as a place to hide the hygiene products once you have taken them off the shelf. This is a dead giveaway.
After doing all these things, and completely some measured breathing exercises, it is time to make a first pass down "the" aisle for reconnaissance purposes. Familiarize yourself as to where the various items of interest are. Does your woman need plugs (tampons) or pads (sanitary napkins)? [Note: around our house, we call them 'missiles' and 'bonus accuracy packages' - from the Jeff Dunham sketch with Achmed, the Dead Terrorist.]
Next, pass down an aisle you have traveled before. This will give the impression that you are looking for something in that aisle and make it less suspicious when you go to the hygiene products aisle again.
I should say at this point that it is helpful if your woman has given you an exact Brand name and absorbency. If not, there are many variety packages that should take care of any immediate need.
You are now ready for the heart of your mission. Walk confidently (even if you don't feel it) into the hygiene products aisle. Slow down when you approach the objective of your search. Be aware of your surroundings. When you see your target, reach your hand out, pick the package up off the shelf and place it quickly and casually into your cart or basket. Exit the aisle.
If you have any further shopping to do, you are free to do it now.
If not, you are prepared for the second most 'dangerous' objective ... making it through the checkout line. Sometimes, there are not many checkers and you will have to take the most sympathetic looking person there. If there are several or many options, go for the grandmotherly type, or another man. The former will sympathize with your plight, as she has probably heard from her man at some point how he felt having to purchase feminine hygiene products for her. The latter will either nod knowingly at you, having been through the same thing, or nervously smile, which should make you feel better, showing you that you are not the only one experiencing discomfort at this time.
As you exit the store, give yourself a mental pat on the back. You have just made it through one of the most harrowing experiences you will ever have to face. Unless you have frozen goods in your vehicle, stop on your way home and get yourself a cappuccino or an ice cream cone. You've earned it.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
(The Dogwalk Country Store is based on an actual gas station-convenience store-mini deli in a rural area of Kentucky commonly known as "Dogwalk".)
The bells on the door jangled as Bill entered the Dogwalk Country Store. Betty and Mary smiled and said good morning from behind the counter. He tipped his hat to the ladies and returned their greeting. Mary handed Bill a steaming cup of coffee as he passed the register. "Obliged, Mary," he thanked her, "you know just what I need of a morning."
He made his way back to the tables where John and Bob were already talking up a storm. The men nodded their good mornings to each other. John moved Bill's chair out from the table a little with his foot and said, "Looks like you got your hands full this morning, Bill." "Always," Bill replied, sitting down stiffly and stuffing his trucker's cap in the pocket of his down vest; men around here knew better than to spend time indoors still wearing their hats.
Betty walked amongst the tables with a coffee pot, freshening up the cups of the men who had been there talking long enough that they needed to take a breath and a drink of joe. "What's this I hear about your tractor, Bill," she asked. Bill raised an eyebrow and winked to the other men at his table, "Well, now darlin', how did you know about that? I haven't said anything about it yet this morning!" "Why, Mr. Nosey-Nate, you know this place his better for learning stuff about your neighbors than tv news," Betty retorted, and everyone in earshot chuckled in agreement.
"Well," Bill began, "Sal took me to the doctor's yesterday up Ambleton way to get a shot in my knee," subconsciously rubbing his knee. "When we got back, the tractor was gone! It's not like you can see it from the road. Shoot, a body can't even see ten feet down the driveway from the road. If you didn't know someone lived back there, you'd never guess it from the highway."
Questions began flying in from all sides, "Did ya call the Sheriff Johnson," "Got any ideas who did it," "How you gonna get your crops in"? Bill answered each question in turn, until he forgot what came next. "Yup, called the sheriff. Luckily, Sal had the serial number and such writ down for identification and such." He stopped for a drink of coffee, and Betty chipped in, "What you going to do 'bout your crops, Bill?" "Don't rightly know that this morning, Betty," Bill answered, "Gotta study on that one a little."
Everyone nodded. If it wasn't one thing on a farm, it was another.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
My father-in-law had a knee operation years ago (before I met him). An infection set up in his right knee afterwards which necessitated the amputation of his leg just above the knee. He was fitted with a prosthetic and used it for years, getting around pretty much as well as people with both legs. Then he got arthritis in his various joints and needed to use a pair of crutches. Several more years of that and he needed a wheelchair for longer distances. Last year he moved to using a wheelchair all the time.
He lives about 5 minutes from his mother's house. Every day he would go over on his four-wheel ATV to check on her and help out as he could. Eventually Mamaw needed round-the-clock care. The closest nursing home would not take her because, well, she kind of had a mouth on her. She was an old, sometimes-uncomfortably-plain-speaking hillbilly woman. I never heard the "f"-word come out of her mouth, but she made liberal use of most of the other swear words known to man. Truth be told, she did not want to go to a nursing home anyway.
FIL's (father-in-law's) older brother then moved back into Mamaw's house to help with the day-to-day care. He has asthma and a heart condition, so a lot of time he needed assistance himself. Uncle himself has been known to be difficult; if he were not family, we would probably actively avoid contact with him.
The point is, FIL would go over at least once a day, most often two-three times, even more if needed, on his ATV, down his driveway, through the stream, up the hill, across the field to Mamaw's house because family does for family.
Two weeks ago, Mamaw passed away. Uncle is in the hospital in bad shape.
Yesterday, FIL's wife drove him to a doctor's appointment. Due to his arthritis and a somewhat recent mini-stroke, FIL does not drive anymore. While they were out ...
...SOME IDIOT MUTHAF'IN SOB STOLE FIL'S ATV!!!!
What absolutely makes my blood boil is that it has to be someone who knows my FIL, and knew he was out of the house yesterday. While the house is out of view of the road, there is no way to approach the house and not be seen. There are two dogs who are not vicious, but who will bark up a storm if anyone not family approaches. If it had happened while they were home, there is no way the thief or thieves would not be detected. And FIL has said several times, "If you find a gun in my house, assume it is loaded."
My husband was so mad he was shaking. He took a surveillance camera up to his Dad's house and installed it, so they could see if someone comes back. Our daughter went with him, to make sure he didn't do anything foolish.
So, whoever took the ATV has basically bound my disabled FIL to his house. I'm so mad I could spit.
I know the situation will be resolved. I know the fire burning inside me will eventually subside and I will begin a process of trying to forgive the thieves ... but that might take a couple of days.
Thank you for letting me vent.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Monday, April 1, 2013
This post is serving double duty. Usually on Mondays I connect with "Inspire Me Monday" at CreateWithJoy.com, but since I am doing the "Blogging From A to Z April Challenge" this year for the first time, I'm hoping this will serve double duty for today.
"A...My Name is Alice" is a musical revue of about 20 songs, conceived by Julianne Boyd and Joan Micklin Silver, first produced in NYC in 1983. Since that time, it has spun off two sequels, "A...My Name is Still Alice" and "A...My Name Will Always be Alice".
A complete list of the songs can be found on Wikipedia. My connection with this play came some 17-20 years ago, when I was in college the last time. I do not remember which songs the producing company, TheatreWorks West included, but I do remember that "Bluer and You," was the song that closed Act I. "Pretty Young Boys" opened Act II.
I would like to say that those particular songs have stayed with me for so many years due to the fabulous acting of the cast...and that is partially true (even though I was not one of them at the time).
This show opened the professional company's run at the new performing arts building on the campus of Westminster College of SLC. The auditorium was huge compared to what we had been using and the sound and light boards were computerized and had more buttons and switches that I had ever seen before. The room they were in at the back of the theatre looked like an airplane cockpit or an air traffic control tower to me. Why do I mention this? Because I was light board operator for the production.
This should have been a relatively simple job. All the lights were set at certain levels to change at certain times and all I had to do was hit the "next" button when the stage manager gave me the cue.
Until, in the middle of "Bluer Than Blue", ON OPENING NIGHT, the light board decided to crash. All the lights in the house went off at once, and the emergency lights came on. The stage manager made it up the "outside the house" steps in seconds flat, I swear! Somehow we limped through to intermission. He was on the phone with the manufacturers of the light board. We found out a repairman could only come out at the beginning of the week. (Most plays in Utah at the time opened on a Wednesday or a Friday.)
Thankfully, once it was explained to the cast and the rest of the crew that it was not my fault, I think they stopped adding colorful metaphors to my name. When the music director made his little speech before the play the next night, he mentioned the "hiccups' in the system and even said some nice things that I didn't go run screaming from the building or something like that.
Last, but not least, Theatreworks West has merged with another SLC theatre company and become Pygmalion Productions. If you are in the Salt Lake City, Utah, area (living, visiting or just driving through) check out the paper and see if Pygmalion has something going on. You won't be disappointed!