Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Over For Another Year

Now that all the costumes are finished, worn, and deemed successful, I'm not sure what to do with all my time! I keep thinking I need to head back to my sewing room.

I do have lots more projects to work on, and am happy to have some time to work on them.

And for your viewing pleasure, the costumes and trick-or-treaters:

Jaci's blog has more photos.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just an Old Softie

My friend, Kathy, invited me to join her tonight to hear the U.S. Marine Band in concert at Stambaugh Auditorium. In a year where performing arts organizations are crying for attendees, Stambaugh was packed.

I had heard this organization in concert many times during the years I lived in D.C. As always, their music is of the highest quality. Of course, hearing them brings John back to me, making me remember how much he loved concerts like this, and making me miss him—always and again.

The "Salute to the Armed Forces" medley brought tears to my eyes, and when they started into "God Bless America" for their encore, I was so choked up I could hardly sing.

How nice to hear rousing music in a beautiful venue surrounded by listeners who are enjoying every minute of the concert.

Impulse Purchases Gone Right

I salute the merchandisers at Barnes & Noble. Every so often they put just the right book on display near the register.

A few weeks ago I was in B&N purchasing a few puzzle books to tuck into the boxes Virtual Hold was sending to an Army National Guard troop in Kuwait. As I was preparing to pay for my purchases, I saw Thad Carhart's The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier.

There are two items at the top of my long list of things-I-love. Those items are Paris and music. To find a book that encompassed both of them—well, I just had to buy it.

I've just now started reading it, and I'm in love with this book. Mr. Carhart talks about seeing a piano shop as he walked his children to and from school in Paris. He deftly describes what it's like to deal with small store owners in France. He describes his childhood piano lessons in Fontainebleau, a city that is very dear to my heart. This book has turned into something I don't want to put down.

The most astonishing section I've read so far was his description of the mover who delivered his piano to his second floor apartment in Paris. He describes how the piano was strapped to the man's back and he muscled it up the stairs, all alone. My shoulders ached after reading this account.

If you love either Paris or music, I think you would enjoy this book.

Now, what are you reading?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mason and Dixon

This is only my second experience living above the Mason-Dixon Line. When FOMC and I were first married, we lived in Madison, WI, where he was studying for a Master's in choral conducting. If I remember correctly, the first snow came at Thanksgiving. That's the end of November. That's okay.

Today is October 29. True, all the Christmas decorations are out in the stores, and have been for a month, but it's only October! When I got up in the middle of the night to answer Nature's call, I glanced out the window and noticed the cars were covered with a light blanket of snow.


I'm thinking it's going to be a very long winter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Arts of Random Kindness

My former IBM boss, Donna, told me about her daughters' new business and mentioned a story was going to be broadcast on television. She didn't tell me I would be referred to, anonymously, in the story.

I like helping people out, but always in the background. How nice that these young ladies have taken my gift and run with it.

You can see (and buy) their work here.

Update: Donna called me today to tell me that Channel 4 used me (anonymously) as the focus for the story, sort of a pay-it-forward view. Because of the kindness of my heart in giving Donna all this glass and equipment, these two young girls have started a business focusing on kindness toward others.

Not all skunks stink!

I thought you might like to see the skunk Hallowe'en costume I made for this little doll, Landen. He didn't like the headpiece at all, but all the adults who saw him were quite smitten with this little "stinker".

Monday, October 27, 2008

Country Roads

Saturday morning I drove down to Berkeley Springs, WV, to spend time with my Tucson friends, Maureen and George, at their summer cottage. They will leave this week to drive back to Tucson for the winter. Maureen is a writer and a Pi Beta Phi alum. We became good friends while working together on various Pi Phi activities.

They have a darling cottage in Great Cacapon, WV. I wished I had a week to sit on the deck, staring into the woods and listening to the Cacapon River gurgling by in the valley. But this trip was scheduled to coincide with the fall Berkeley Springs Studio Tour.

I am passionate about handcrafted items, whether from my hand or the hands of artists whose time is dedicated to creating art. Maureen and I met up at the Ice House Artists Co-op Gallery. The Ice House is the sort of place which I would like to open in Youngstown. There is gallery space, education space, and in the future plan, studio space. I saw many lovely things here, most especially the stained glass of Ralph Gonzales.

The rain was pouring, but we determined to see everything we wanted to see. We went next to the fiber art studio and gallery of Kim Potter. Kim is a very personable guy, and we spent half an hour with him, chatting and petting his gorgeous handwoven coats.

Next came Heath Studio Gallery, where I purchased one of Jan Heath's linocuts. The black-faced sheep with pink tongue reminded me of John's and my honeymoon/chorus concert tour through the Cotswolds. When I again get a home, it will be one of the first pieces I hang there.

Lunch followed at Tari's Premiere Café, where the walls are covered with local art. Then we headed east on Route 9 to Pocket Meadow Farm. Ellen Kardell is an artist of many talents, and she and I spent time chatting about stained glass. (Her work hanging in the windows is fabulous—think Christmas bonus and new house.) They dye some of their wool with natural dyes, and know some of the same people I've studied with. I bought some beads and ribbon for a bead crochet necklace, and some bamboo yarn for kumihimo. Ellen makes fabulous felted wool bags, and I bought a small bag for Jaci to tuck into her purse or her camera case. Maureen got some beautiful wool/silk yarn for a knitted scarf.

Heading back toward town, we continued west on Route 9 and then turned down a windy road to find Frog Valley Artisans. We spent an hour or so here. A visiting artist, Laughlin, lives in Akron and comes down for this show every year to help demonstrate. These artists all have pieces in Don Drumm Gallery in Akron, so that was a nice connection to make. I got a handcrafted soup bowl to hold Tyler's daily lunch, and Maureen got some fused and slumped glass candleholders.

We were finished for the day, and went to Maureen's to show George our treasures.

Sunday morning we headed down Route 522 to Hsu Studios. Oh My Gosh. You've seen the Hsu's pieces in upscale shops around the nation, but to see a large selection of their work all in one place was almost overwhelming. Jean-Pierre spent time showing me how they produce their work and, of course, I had to buy a pair of earrings. Anne Larsen, of Deer Light Studio, is sharing space with them while her new space is being finished. When I mentioned Interlochen to Carol Hsu, she told me Anne was an Interlochen alum. I introduced myself to Anne and told her of our connection, and she spent half an hour demonstrating her fabulous gold- and silversmithing work to me.

The Hsu's told me there's another studio tour on Memorial Day weekend. The Traveler and I may have to fit this in to our Run For the Wall/Rolling Thunder activities next year.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What? Did the Bed Bite You?

Longtime readers know how much I love my cat, Rudi. He's the man in my life.

In my little house in Tucson, he would jump up on my bed once I settled in for the evening. When I turned the light out, I would pat my chest and he would immediately walk over and curl up on my chest, purring me to sleep. He'd move to the foot of the bed or the top of the dresser during the night, but the instant I woke and patted my chest, he was right back there, purring and wishing me "good morning".

He had a hard time settling in once we moved into our new digs. There are two other male cats in the house, and he and the younger one, Pepper, have a love/hate/let's-pretend-we're-killing-each-other relationship.

Rudi still slept with me much of the time in my new "house". But lately he's nowhere to be found.

I was concerned that there was something wrong such that he couldn't jump up onto my bed any more. I e-mailed Tyler and Jaci to keep an eye on him during the day, to notice if they saw him on any high surfaces. A couple of hours later, Jaci e-mailed back that he was happily lying on top of the piano. There went the Rudi-can't-jump theory.

Two nights ago, in my never-ending effort to again enjoy the comfort of this "man" in my bed, I brought him upstairs with me. I placed him on my bed and petted him for a couple of minutes. The minute I took my hand off his head, he leapt out of the bed. He jumped up onto the rocker, curled up, and slept there all night. Last night was a replay of this behavior—place him on the bed; he jumps down; he gets into rocker and sleeps all night.

What on earth happened in that bed while I wasn't looking that made him loathe to lie there? What little gremlins are running around his tiny mind?

I miss having a companion in my bed. (And yes, you may read between all the words in that sentence and assume hidden meaning.) (Some things never change.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hating Hewlett-Packard

I'll make this short. Dealing with HP's customer non-service department to get them to agree to let me send my laptop in to see if they can fix it (not even just "agree to fix it"), has been brutal. They are slow. They don't communicate clearly. Sometimes I'll send them information they request, then twenty-four hours later I'll write back to them and say "Did you get that?" Then they'll respond.

I bought my extended warranty from them, but the customer service people can't see that. They needed me to send them ( a copy of the receipt (from so they could update the database with that information. And it takes them two days to update the database? Give me a ducking break. I could have written the SQL code to update that puppy in 90 seconds.

It almost makes me wish I hadn't bought my beloved 12.5" HP laptop. It especially makes me wish I hadn't bought the $265 2-year extended warranty! I'd go down and throw it in the Mahoning River and buy a Mac. To hell with the environment on this one (with appropriate apologies to the tree huggers in the audience). Yes, I'm a former IBMer and I'm ready to buy a Mac. I have hated and despised Windows Vista since I bought a machine that included that O/S. I now hate HP (except I like their printers, so I can be bought).

The icing on the cake? They had the nerve/courage to send me one of those feedback surveys. Y'know, "How did we do, on a scale of zero to ten?" Most of my responses were in the zero range.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Death to Laptops

I'm not posting because I have now killed my second laptop in two weeks and have no Internet access at home until my new adapter arrives to convert my old tower to a WiFi machine.

I'm almost afraid to touch my work laptop. But at least if that one breaks, the fix doesn't come out of my pocket!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Ron and Marcia invited me to dinner and the Symphony with them tonight. Their guest was organist William Whitehead, who is in town to give a concert tomorrow. We had a lovely dinner at the Youngstown Country Club, looking out across the golf course at the brilliantly colored leaves.

I was pleased as we entered the concert hall to see a large number of young people, high school and college age along with the 20s-30s. Someone is doing a good job of public relations and marketing. Any orchestra, to be able to survive from this current economic crisis forward, has got to bring in younger people and get them accustomed to attending the Symphony as a matter of course. It's got to be the norm in their lives.

But at the same time, we have to educate them. How do we teach them, gently and lovingly so as not to scare them off, that one doesn't clap between movements? I know there's talk in the music community about getting away from the clapping ban—if something moves you, you should express those feelings. But this wasn't that kind of clapping (except for after the Jupiter movement of The Planets). This was "the piece is over; it's time for me to clap" clapping. If you wrote about the history of not clapping, about how clapping in the middle of a piece destroys its mood and feel, and placed that essay on a FAQ page on a Symphony's Web site, would anyone read it? Would anyone who needs to read it, read it?

The most fun I had all evening? Standing next to Ron, both of us in full voice, singing the national anthem.

And the Finally I referred to in the heading? I ran into someone I knew. A gentleman who is a bass player, with whom I had coffee several months ago in Akron, was in the audience. It made me feel like I was back in my milieu: all those nights at TSO concerts, where I knew so many people.

I'm home.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I avidly listen to Broadminded on XMRadio from noon to 3:00 Monday through Friday, whenever I can. The Broads, Molly and Christine, are outrageously funny and rude and thoroughly thought-provoking for me. They have guests, both serious and silly, that help my afternoons pass quickly.

Earlier this week they hosted author Jon Katz. I was fascinated listening to him talk about his life and work with animals and hospice. (You may remember that John and I had a very positive experience with Hospice of Washington in his final six months. I support the hospice movement totally.)

During their conversation, Jon mentioned his website and blog, Bedlam Farm Journal, and of course I had to click right over there. What a treat!

Look at those incredible photos. I want to reach into the photos and touch the animals, pet the dogs. Click on the Slate archives and read some of those essays. Turn to the Hospice Journal and look at those achingly beautiful photographs. This website and blog are inspired and the author/artist is truly gifted.

This is one of those sites that I will return to again and again—probably daily—as I need a dose of loveliness in my life.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You Think That's All It Takes?

I watched about half of the debate with Tyler and Jaci last night. Jaci and I kept looking at each other and shaking our heads. We wanted to jump into the television and slap the smirk off McCain's face. I felt Obama was poised, erudite, and informed. I felt McCain was rude, disruptive, and condescending. Isn't that just what you want in a president?

There was one thing McCain said that grabbed me, and I haven't seen anyone else blog about it, so I must mention it here.

Did you hear McCain say we have an obesity epidemic and all employers need to offer inexpensive gym memberships to their employees?
  1. Not everybody is employed, Ding Dong.
  2. You think having the membership is all it takes to lose weight?

This man has clearly never owned an extra pound he needed to shed. My company provided me a gym membership that cost $5 per pay period. That's pretty damned reasonable. I still couldn't get there, partially because I would have had to leave the house at 6:00 or not get home until 8:00 or later to take advantage of it. I dropped my membership this month in favor of putting that $5 towards my debts.

There are lots of reasons people put on weight, and lack of a gym membership is not at the core of those reasons.

Hey, give us all free therapy. I put my weight on eating my way through a horrible relationship. I keep it on out of sheer laziness and poor scheduling. When it becomes important, I'll start walking every day and the rest of the weight will come off. I don't need a McCain-mandated gym membership for that. I just need motivation. You think McCain can mandate motivation? Hey—I'll vote for that!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I've been tagged!

My darling daughter-in-law, the brilliant photographer Jaci Clark, has tagged me.

Here's how it works:

  • Grab the nearest book.
  • Open to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post the next two to five sentences in your blog with these instructions.
  • Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one - pick the CLOSEST.
  • Tag five other people to do the same.

Easy for me. I love books and always have a book in progress, both reading and writing. I reached into my purse, thinking I had my book club book, but—alas, all I had was my new crossword book, Will Shortz Presents Crosswords for 365 Days. I didn’t think giving you the 5th clue would be any fun. I reached to the bookshelf over my head and grabbed Microsoft Office Word 2007 Bible. When I turned to page 56, I found only four sentences.

I moved one book to the left and pulled down Technical Editing: The Practical Guide for Editors and Writers, by Judith A Tarutz. Page 56 is in Chapter 5, Working with Writers: Ten Lessons I Had to Unlearn. Here’s sentence number five, and a few following sentences, which I thought were kinda fun:

In technical manuals we often say things like, “What you do depends on the number of frobnitzes in the framistam” or “The maximum number of frizzlechips you can have is 64.” I think that the word number in a technical manual should signal the reader to be ready to receive numerical data, so I reserve a number of for those contents. When I explained this reasoning to a writer who had been thinking, “Here goes another quirky editor,” she immediately agreed—and helped spread the word among the other writers that seemingly arbitrary changes weren’t necessarily arbitrary. Then she encouraged them to ask the editor, a radical idea at the time.

(You now totally want my job, don't you?!)

Now to tag five others:
1) Fivehusbands (Judy)
2) Jenn L.
3) PianoLady (Cheryl)
4) The Traveler (Lee)
5) The newest employee of KUAT/KUAZ (Jill)

Only Judy has a blog, so the others will have to add their book excerpts in comments here, and the tagging will end with them. I look forward to seeing what everyone has to add.

And keep reading!

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

I am blessed. I don't know poverty. I have known the speed bumps of life. I have started over four-five-ten times, walking out of untenable marriages and jobs. I have always carried around the fear of being a bag lady. But, always, the stars have been aligned or the gods have smiled or God has been gracious. I have landed on my feet.

I often say that everywhere I have been has led to where I am now. Every job, every marriage, every experience—whether positive or negative—has been a building block that's led me to where I am now.

I am not wealthy. Because of the current economic situation in the United States, I am living paycheck to paycheck. I spend a portion of each day looking at my debts and figuring out how much of the next paycheck I can put towards each of them. But I have a job and it feels pretty secure, knock wood.

All around me, in Youngstown, I see evidence of poverty and hurting. I wish I could help more people. Given unlimited wealth, I would be Dolly Levi and spread it around like manure, helping things to grow. But, given limited wealth in a struggling community, I try to live locally, eating at local establishments, buying at locally owned stores first before turning to national chains. It's not much, but every little bit helps.

I'm grateful for the roof over my head, for my generous son and daughter-in-law who so graciously provide that roof, and for coming home every night to grandchildren racing to the door, calling my name, and throwing their arms around me.

And now I ask you to read a beautifully written post sharing the flip side of life. The writer, who blogs under the name "fivehusbands", is my separated-at-birth twin. We are of the same generation, are both educated in the law, have been married more times than we care to remember, and are very smart women. Somewhere along the way, Judy's magic wand broke. What she doesn't tell you in this post is that she applies to every job she sees that she feels she might be able to get—some she is perfectly qualified for, some she is obscenely overqualified for, many fall in the middle of that spectrum. Most employers don't even acknowledge her applications. Her life has become her worst nightmare.

Poverty. It exists. We, as Americans, must rise up and do something to change the situation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Living Will

Last night, my friend and I were sitting in the living room, and I said to her, “I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and taking fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.”

She got up, unplugged the computer and threw out my wine.

With thanks and a cross-country hug to my dear Tucson Symphony Chorus buddy Gail for this afternoon smile.

Is This What We've Been Driven To?

(No pun intended)

Yesterday I went to GetGo after work to fill up before I hit the highway to head home. Regular was priced at $2.79 and the stock market had bounced back a little. I saw something I had never seen before in my life.

First let me explain GetGo to those readers who are not from around here. GetGo is the gas outlet for Giant Eagle grocery stores. When you shop at Giant Eagle, you earn GetGo credits—the formula is something like ten cents off every gallon of gas for every $50 you spend at Giant Eagle. Your credits keep accumulating until you choose to spend them. So you could get a free fill-up, if you forget you've got the credits sitting on your advantage card.

I pulled into the GetGo in Montrose (west Akron), where they have eight pumps. There was a car at every pump, and four cars waiting. The cars at the pumps each had two five gallon gas cans. I had never seen this phenomenon and couldn't imagine what was going on. I had to wait about ten to fifteen minutes to get to a pump (and should have just gone next door to the BP, but wanted to add my purchase to my accumulated credits—not even use my thirty cents off as I wasn't getting a full tank).

When I finally got to the tank and started pumping my gas, I ran inside to buy my lottery ticket (hope springs eternal). I asked the cashier what was going on with all the gas cans. She said customers were allowed to fill two five-gallon cans along with their car tank when using their credits. She figured everyone was stocking up in fear that the price of gas would bounce back up now that the stock market had bounced a little.

Have we become a nation living in fear?

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's the Economy, Stupid

Prompted by an article in the Boston Globe, and by Gorgeous Things' blog post on the same topic, I'm thinking today about the five things I can't live without, even as the economy swirls down the toilet.

  1. My Friday morning Chocolate Chip Muffie from Panera Bread.
  2. My subscriptions to Threads, Vogue Pattern Magazine, and Bead & Button Magazine.
  3. My MegaMillions lottery ticket every Tuesday and Friday. Hope springs eternal.
  4. Occasional treats—small toys, candy, goodies—for les babes. There's nothing like the smile on the face of your grandbabes when you bring them an unexpected treat.
  5. A slice of Starbux pumpkin bread on the way to rehearsal on Tuesday night.

That's not so bad. I'd let my hair go from blonde to gray before I'd give up these items. What about you? What can't you live without?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Old Friends are the Best

I'm sorry for not posting earlier today, but my computer decided to scare me and threaten to die. I thought I'd try booting it again after dinner tonight, and it came right up, so you get a travelogue update.

Not bad for two old broads, huh? There's nothing like a trip with a tried-and-true travel buddy. This is the sixth or seventh year Cheryl and I have had these Broadway weekends, and we enjoy each one more than the previous.

We met in college—January of 1969—and have had a strong friendship since the day we met. Our weekends together include reminiscing about college events as piano duet partners, recalling memories of earlier Broadway weekends, and wondering how on earth our lives ended up where they did after we were born and raised in mid-20th Century Florida. And as we enjoy ourselves, we start planning the next year's trip.

We arrived at the Marriott Marquis around 3:00 Friday afternoon (yesterday), and were given our usual corner room overlooking Times Square. This year it's the 17th floor, which simply means it takes less time to get down to street level. After relaxing for an hour, we grabbed a cab down to Bryant Park to meet Cheryl's neighbor, Susan, at Bryant Park Grill for dinner. Dinner was cauliflower and butternut squash chowder, salad, mushroom ravioli for me, salmon for Cheryl, and bronzini (similar to sea bass) for Susan, and then pumpkin cake with cheesecake ice cream, cinnamon ice cream, and fig compote for dessert. Yum all the way around!

After dinner, Susan walked us to the subway and showed us how to use this means of transportation (for the first time in my life!) to get to Lincoln Center. Our choice of play this year was "South Pacific", which has been getting rave reviews. It was just fabulous. This revival has been very well done.

Today we slept in until 9:00, then headed towards Rockefeller Center for our normal Dean & DeLuca Saturday breakfast. On the way, we saw a great looking breakfast place called Pret a Manger.
Fabulous fresh and healthy food, all marked with calorie counts. We had yogurt with apples and cranberries, shared a healthy oatmeal cookie, and enjoyed our choice of breakfast beverage. Then we walked around and visited some stores before heading for Columbus Circle.

Our goal was The Museum of Arts & Design, which has just moved into its new home at 2 Columbus Circle. I was very impressed with this museum. I want to bring Boston and Ridley to New York to see this collection, as I think they would find so much inspiration for their creativity here. I was especially inspired by Terese Agnew's Portrait of a Textile Worker, which was created out of stitched-together clothing labels. The permanent collection in this museum made me want to find time to take more classes in pottery and stained glass and mosaic and learn how to weave and solder and . . . . It's a fabulous collection.

After the museum, we had a Dean & DeLuca lunch, then did a little shopping. I found an investment Eileen Fisher jacket on sale, then we strolled the 8th Avenue Street Fair and I picked a couple of cashmere shawls for $5 each. We headed back for Broadway, and found ourselves next to The Colony Music Store, which is mecca for any musician. I picked up a couple of books for Tyler and just reveled in being around so many fellow musicians.

We headed back to the hotel to put our feet up for a couple of hours. At 7:00 we headed to Café Un Deux Trois (1-2-3, if you don't speak French), which is where we've been having dinner for many years. As we walked in, they told us they saved the best table in the house for us. We were placed right at the window. We shared the warm chevre salad, then I had crab cakes and Cheryl had farfalle with eggplant and sun-dried tomatoes. As always, we ended with profiteroles.

We headed back to Broadway and a little more late-night shopping. As we walked into Quiksilver, the young man at the door sang out "Sweet Kitties" to us. We smiled at each other. We knew he was just encouraging us to want to spend money there, but it was fun, anyway.

We have been commenting to each other about the number of people in the city this weekend. One would never know there's an economic crisis in this country. There was not an empty seat in the theater. The restaurant was packed. The sidewalks are crammed with people. The streets are filled with cars and cabs and limos and rickshaws and horses and police cars and humanity. There's a fleet or two in town, maybe for the long weekend, and there are sailors everywhere.

In all the years we've been coming to the city on this same weekend, we've never seen this many people. I don't know if the people are spending as much money in the restaurants and the stores, but the people are definitely out there and circulating.

(And we're doing our share to help the economy along.)

One of the strongest feelings I've had this weekend is of the power of music in the lives of so many people. As I sat in the theatre last night, and again this afternoon walking around The Colony, I thought about the number of people who, as young people, took individual music instruction or played in the band or sang in the choir. Look at the impact that had on their lives. The people in the theatre last night paid, for the most part, no less than $120 each for a ticket to listen to that music. They bobbed their heads and tapped their feet and bit their tongues to keep from singing along to the music.

Most of us make our living at other things—as programmers or doctors or lawyers or administrative assistants or janitors, as teachers or chefs, as bus drivers or cashiers or CPAs. But music brings us joy and lifts our hearts. Music brings to our minds some long-lost love or some favorite vacation spot. Music makes us smile and cry and want to dance a jig. What else do you know of in life that is so powerful to so many people across such a broad spectrum?

Whenever someone compliments me on my musical ability, I am quick to say, "It's a gift." Yes, I've worked hard to perfect my abilities. But at the very nucleus of what I have is a magical gift, and this world is a better place, I believe, for the power of music and it's effect on those around us.

This music in our lives is what brought Cheryl and me together and gave us this friendship that has spanned forty years. And it's why we choose musicals to see on Broadway every year.

We're both lucky and blessed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

On the Road Again

The trip I look forward to all year long begins today.

As soon as I jump into and out of the shower and slap some eye makeup on my tired eyes, I will slide behind the wheel and head for Westchester County, New York. When I arrive at PianoLady's door, we'll change into our going-to-the-theatre attire and her husband, the ever-patient-ever-kind-never-complain-about-our-annual-getaway-Karl, will take us to the train station.

We'll take the train to Grand Central Station, then a cab to the Marriott Marquis to check in and drop our bags. Then it's a three block walk through across Times Square back to Bryant Park to meet PL's friend Susan for an early dinner at the Bryant Park Grill.

Then—ah, so long-awaited this moment—we'll grab a cab and head for the Vivian Beaumont Theatre to see "South Pacific". A friend of PianoLady's told her this week that she had seen it recently, and it was the best thing she had seen on Broadway in her entire life. Wow!

Plans for the rest of the weekend? You'll just have to tune in later, won't you? The clock is ticking and I've got to get into the shower.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Price of Gas

I am appalled that the price of gas in Youngstown, where there are precious few jobs, is consistently $.25 higher than in Akron, where cars and jobs abound.

I would love to hear a cogent explanation.

On the other hand, I'm thrilled that I can now fill up my car (in Akron) with midgrade gas for less than $3.00 per gallon.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Be Responsible for Your Own Words

The thing that annoyed me the most last night as I listened to the debate while driving home from rehearsal was the way each candidate prefaced his own words by projecting what his opponent was going to do.

[My opponent] is going to [do this about that]. Excuse me. You don't have a snowball's chance in hell of knowing definitively what your opponent is going to do on any issue. Either of you! Just shut_TF_up and tell me what you're going to do. The longer you spend attempting to defame your opponent before actually telling me what you're going to do, the less I'm inclined to believe you.

And McCain not shaking Obama's hand? That's just rude. Didn't his mama teach him anything?

I think Favorite Author Chris Barzak said it best in his post this morning. There's nothing new under the electoral sun. Let's just get it over with.

In fact, Tyler voted on Monday. He's done. And yet my Twitter friend Olevia, who is a resource librarian in Cleveland, said people came to her desk yesterday wanting to know where they could register to vote. What? Have they been on desert islands for the past few weeks while e-mails have been flying fast and furiously warning people that the deadline to register was approaching.

God, are we a nation of idiots?

The next 27 days is just going to be about blowing money on very expensive ads and commercials to slam the other candidate. Oh, and about Palin giving Tina Fey fodder for her perfect fit impersonations on SNL.

Actually, I think I'll go to a desert island with no television or radio for 27 days. Or else NYC for three days. :)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Passing of the Years

Thirty-seven years ago today I got married. We had been engaged for three-and-a-half months, and had spent the summer in Fontainebleau, France, studying with Nadia Boulanger. When we arrived back in the States, we went straight to Madison, Wisconsin, where he started his Master's program at the University of Wisconsin. I went back to Orlando, and we decided to go ahead and get married. I didn't know what else to do—I didn't have the job I thought was waiting for me at Walt Disney World and I was burned out on school after the summer with Mlle. Boulanger. Just get married. Why not?

We had been apart for three weeks when he flew home for the wedding. I picked him up at the airport. When he stepped off the plane, I didn't recognize him at first. Then when I recognized him, I wondered what on earth I was doing. It was two days until my wedding. Wedding? I didn't really like this man. What was I doing getting married? I was 21 years old and totally clueless about life.

I toyed with the idea of cancelling the wedding. After all, it was a very small affair, to be held in my parents' home with only about 20 guests. But to cancel the wedding would be too embarrassing. And besides, all his friends from his church on Merritt Island said he shouldn't marry me, so I was bound and determined to prove them wrong.

Wow! All the right reasons to get married.

Two weeks into the marriage I knew I had made the biggest mistake of my life. Ten years later I finally got up my courage to leave. In the interim, I had two wonderful sons. I wouldn't trade them for any other possible life. They've taught me so much about life.

But, oh, how I envy people who get married for the right reasons the first time around.

On Being Grateful

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I'm not sure why.

There's a strange thing about being adopted. You feel like you have to be grateful all the time. Whether you feel like it or not, whether you want to express it or not, you need to be grateful. You should be grateful. You must be grateful.

It's one thing to express gratitude because you want to, because you know how that person will feel when you acknowledge the lovely thing she did for you. But to have your mother's voice inside your head, prodding you to say thank you—it actually feels quite poisonous.

The everpresent fear for this adoptee is of being given away again. It's the unspoken threat that accompanies every correction. So if I don't adequately thank someone for something he did for me, a) he'll abandon me, or b) whoever has currently adopted me will tell me I have to leave. I think maybe I am overly appreciative at times—better safe than sorry, right?

I try to be understanding of those who never express appreciation for things I do for them. I try to consider that they have had similar bumps in their life's roads and just aren't as compliant as I, as fearful as I. I tell myself they really do appreciate my acts, and try to move on beyond the moment.

I've been through years and years of therapy, and the fear of abandonment is as big today as it was 50+ years ago. It's so old and trite and tiresome. If you think I get tired of overplayed music on the Classic Pops station, how do you think I feel about hearing this tune over and over in my head for 58 years?!

I'm not sure there's a point to this post. I think I was just sharing information with you—it's one of those points of information that the social worker doesn't share with you when you're exploring adoption.

(I just finished watching this week's Brothers & Sisters. Robert & Kitty are trying to adopt. I can't even imagine where this story line is going to go. Trust me—for some of us, it will be very painful.)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Just! Shut! Up!

We enjoyed Easy Street Productions' staging of Hello, Dolly! very much on Friday night, but I was astonished and appalled by the audience's refusal to stop talking when the music started.

People! Didn't your mamas teach you anything?! I guess I'm lucky to have been taken to musicals as a child by my parents at the old Orlando Municipal Auditorium. I was taught that when the lights dimmed, I was to be quiet. And I was not to sing along with the music, no matter how much I wanted to. I passed this knowledge along to my children, and now we're attempting to pass it along to my grandchildren.

But how can we insist that the children whisper when all around us people are talking in full voice?

And the frustration the musicians must be feeling! We are musicians ourselves, so we fully understand. The overture and the entr'acte are there to set the tone for the acts that are to come—they are to get you in the mood. If you are running your mouth, full throttle, about Aunt Susie's new cookware, or something equally inane, you're not getting in the mood. But more importantly, you're treating the musicians with total disrespect.

People! When the lights come down, close your mouths.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I'm a Mandarin

Brilliant Ann, of Gorgeous Things blog, posted this test the other day and I thought I'd share it with you for your weekend amusement. I find it amazing that a handful of carefully chosen questions can achieve such a quick and clear window into my soul!

I'm a Mandarin!

You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.

Talent: 33%
Lifer: 38%
Mandarin: 56%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

- - -
And what am I doing this weekend? Cleaning my room, working on Hallowe'en costumes, practicing with a vocalist for some possible future gigs, maybe going to look at a new keyboard (piano synthesizer, not computer), and - thank you, Tyler - having a smidge less child care than the past couple of weekend. All the better to get these costumes off my todo list, as next weekend I'll be in New York City.

Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Where Are They?

Last night I went to Stambaugh Auditorium to a benefit performance by the Capitol Steps for Youngstown/Mahoning Valley United Way. I felt like I was back home in Washington to be hearing the Capitol Steps again. They are an incredibly talented group of performers whose singing is pitch perfect and whose humor hits the mark every time. Of course, this current campaign has given them much material to work with.

The best bit of the evening was the Lirty Dies segment. The gentleman who performed this has a steel trap for a mind. How he remember that whole bit, which seemed to run about five minutes, I can't even imagine. I didn't take the time to visit their table in the Stambaugh foyer to pick up a printed copy of the words, so I'm simply going to have to buy their CD. The words were inspired!

I was privileged to be able to sit on the second row of the audience for this performance. I thought I could buy a ticket at the door, but couldn't, and the lady at the desk gave me a ticket a handsome man had turned in when his wife could not attend because she was out of town. So I sat on the second row and next to a handsome man. Wow!

There were lots of handsome men in attendance, all wearing suits and looking well-groomed, but all with their women. It made me start to thinking, again, about how I'm ever going to meet a nice man with whom to have an occasional dinner or glass of wine and conversation.

Where are the gentleman widowers in this town? Do I have to form an association where you have to show your bank statement, diploma, and résumé to be invited to join? But it's more than that. I've had those three in a man, in several men, and they were not nice men. I want nice, also.

Where is he?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

High School Essay Tests

Listening to Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric last week was painful. It was painful largely because of how grossly unprepared Palin is to hold national office. But it was also painful for me because of the memories it evoked.

The way Sarah Palin answered Katie's questions by throwing every buzzword on her cue cards into the answer . . .

Q: How, specifically, will you try to spread democracy throughout the world?
A: Specifically, we will make every effort possible to help spread democracy for those who desire freedom, independence, tolerance, respect for equality.

. . . is exactly how I answered essay questions in high school. I was a horrible student. I don't even know how I graduated, much less graduated early with good grades. I think the teachers were probably just glad to get rid of me because they didn't know what to do with me, how to help me.

Someone needs to help Sarah Palin. Some trusted advisor needs to counsel her to tell John McCain and the American public that her family needs her more than the American people need her. She needs to point her stilettos back towards the Alaska governor's mansion and tend to those children. Oh, and keep her eye on Russia.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sewing As Metaphor for Life

I was listening to the Grandma's Sewing Cabinet podcast on my way home last night. The author, Dr. Julie-Ann McFann, had sponsored a contest on her blog recently and asked her listeners to send her a sewing story from their lives. I wrote a little something to share, not to be part of the contest (puhlllease don't send me another thing to add to the storage unit!), and as I was listening to her podcast, she said my name! She posted my story on her blog last night. She has about 700 listeners on a regular basis, so it will be fun to see if anyone I know hears my name and drops me a note.

One thing Julie said at the end of her podcast grabbed my ear. She said, "Sometimes we have to start over to make things better, to make things the way we want to be."

Anyone who sews makes mistakes. Somewhere, somehow, there's going to be a stitch or two that will have to be removed. You start out calling this "ripping" and the device you use is called a seam ripper. As you get more skilled, you refuse to call it ripping and, instead, you refer to it as unsewing.

I've got quite a bit of perfectionistic blood running through my veins, so I do more than my share of unsewing. I want to be proud of my finished product.

(If you could see the inside of this skunk costume I'm making, you'd say I was crazy. All the seam allowances are whip-stitched in place. The inside is as clean as the outside. But a darling little 18-mo-old boy named Landen is going to wear this costume. I don't care if he only wears it once and then it gets put away forever. I don't want seam allowances rubbing against his legs and making him uncomfortable. No one else may see the inside of a garment, but I see it.)

In another facet of my life, I'm trying to be more proactive in finding friends. Today I learned when the evening sessions of the local American Sewing Guild chapters are held. I will try to go to the Monday night session in Austintown next week to see if there are any women there I feel a commonality with. Then I also have see if there is either an embroiderer's guild chapter or a surface design group nearby.

I feel lonely. Several people have said, "You should meet so-and-so", but are not forthcoming with introductions, so I have to do something myself.

Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing, uprooting myself and starting all over again. And then I remember:

"Sometimes we have to start over to make things better, to make things the way we want to be."

I absolutely did the right thing.