Monday, January 30, 2012

A Capella

Okay. I know I've been very remiss in writing but you all know the reasons why.  I can sum it up in two business!  Only two more weeks and it will be done (at which point I will become depressed for a while...just a little warning.  lol!)

Even though there are words actually appearing in my blog space with today's date, this isn't really a blog post.  This is more of a "I can't believe it" post.  Have you ever had one of those moments?? 

My sister is arriving on Wednesday, so I am "sprucing up the house and sweeping out the bed" ("Steel Magnolias").  One of the chores I had to do was to finish up some laundry that I have been putting off.  There really wasn't much but it was all blouses and shirts....with buttons.  I hate hanging up shirts and blouses 'cuz you have to button at least some of the buttons ( I swear buttons shrink over time and so do the holes they are supposed to fit through!!), and get the collar to lay just right.  It's just a pain.  I'm not really a detail person for this kind of thing.

I debated if I should split the load, but there really wasn't that much.  It all needed to get done so I chucked it all in the washer, added soap, hit the cold water cycle, and went on my merry way.  A pattern I have repeated a gazillion times over the course of the 50+ years I have been doing laundry.

When the cycle finished, I started to put the stuff in the dryer.  But then I noticed a pink shirt.  I don't own a pink shirt.  Uh-oh!  I pulled out a few more things and found another pink shirt and a pink-ish blouse.  About this time I started to get a headache.  Down at the bottom of the washer was one of my favorite blouses....a salmon colored 100% silk shirt that I just love.  A 100% silk shirt that has been dry cleaned in the past.  Oh crap!  I didn't even realize it was in that bundle.

Did I mention that I mixed together whites and colors?  I have done that before and it was okay.  But I never washed the salmon-color shirt before.   So I now had three pink shirts and I don't even like pink very much!

The pink sisters are currently going through another cycle; this time with bleach.  Hopefully this will return them to their pristine white!  (Well, I've got my fingers crossed!)

I'm afraid the salmon colored, 100% silk, wonderful shirt that I loved may not recover.

The only bona fide good news is that none of Mikey's shirts were in the load!   Whew!  He REALLY wouldn't like to have pink shirts.

I can't believe it!  How could I not have caught the salmon shirt?  I mean it's practically orange!!Arrrggg!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


If you have read my blog for any period of time, it will come as no surprise to you that our family is big on "Tradition."  Usually, the traditions we have relate to holidays, like always making leek for holiday dinners, or singing Christmas Carols while we clean up after Thanksgiving dinner, or going en masse to see fireworks on the 4th of July.  Nothing particularly unusual or interesting....just habits we have developed over the years.  Some of them are more important to us than others, but if we repeat something for more than two years in a row....bang!  We've got a new tradition!

I have recently realized that we seem to have another tradition, that isn't so great.  In truth, it probably can't be classified as a tradition exactly.  It's more of a curse!  A mild one, but a curse nonetheless.

The women in my family seem prone to falling....and in the process of falling, manage to break something....usually a wrist!   For example:

*  I fell at age 11 and sprained my right ankle so badly the doctor said it would have been better if I had broken it.
*  Ratchlet fell off a horse when she was 11 and broke her right wrist. 
*  Maddie-the-Great fell during a soccer game at school when she was 8 and broke her left wrist.
*  I fell while roller skating at about age 25 and broke my right wrist.
*  I fell at a dance rehearsal at about age 42 and broke my right wrist AND my left elbow.
*  Little Sis fell at home while getting dress last week (her age is lots younger than mine) and broke her left wrist. 

M-t-G and her broken wrist
just in time for her First Communion!
Other than my additional elbow and ankle injuries, all the casualties of our falls have been the wrist!  Weak wrists must run in our family!  Or maybe we all fall in exactly the same way, i.e., putting out a hand (or 2) to catch ourselves.  Ergo, most of the weight is then borne by the wrist and voila, compression fracture!  In a cast for 4-6 weeks!  Major inconvenience! 

For those of us who are right handed and broke the right wrist (that would be Ratchlet and I), it is amazing all the things you cannot do with your right wrist out of commission.  Things like writing, holding a pen, picking up a telephone (the old style receiver), combing, washing, or styling your hair, putting on socks or hose, cutting your food, carrying anything heavy, driving stick shift, or typing with any speed whatsoever.  We got very inventive in finding new ways to do things!  Those breaking left wrists have a somewhat easier time of it.  For them, their "main" hand still works!

Luckily, our breaks were mainly simple or greenstick fractures not even requiring much in the way of manipulation to get the bone re-aligned before the cast was put on.  Little Sis was not so lucky.  She had to have it repaired surgically.  So she not only has a bone that must knit back together, she also has an incision that has to heal.  Major ouchie!!  Heal up quick, LS!

So as you can see, the females in our family have a tradition, or a curse, or just stupid bad luck that results in a similar experience we all go through.  It ain't fun and it's a pain we all could have done without.   

So far Little Sis's daughter has remained on her feet and has all of her bones intact!  I'm pulling for her to stay that way!  This is one tradition we really don't want to extend to any more of us!! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Life Upon the Wicked Stage"

We opened on Friday night and it was grand.  We had about 70 people in the audience and they were in a good mood and laughed in all the right places.  They even seemed to enjoy the second act more than the first (not unusual, plays are generally written to start a little slowly and build to the conclusion at the end of the last act.)   Because the audience was having a good time, the actors had a good time too.  There is usually an air of excitement both on-stage and back stage on opening night.  Opening night audiences are primed to like a show.  It is just something that happens practically every opening. 

Our audience was a really good one.  Not only did they laugh, they applauded at the end of each scene and for a good long time at the bows.  Heaven!

It is the tradition at this theatre company to have a small reception after the show on opening night.  There is a "meet and greet" with the actors and the audience is very happy to share their impressions of the show and the performances.   We provide nibblies and champagne (or cider) and the audience sticks around awhile to nosh and chat with the actors. 

I have been working with this group on and off for the last 8 years or so, but this was the first show I've done in nearly two years.   Many people in the group gave me lovely compliments on the performance, the show, and said they were glad to see me back on stage.  That is very gratifying.  Now admittedly, this audience was made up of a lot of season subscribers and "regulars", so I wasn't surprised by their nice comments (I have always received a warm response to my roles),  still it reminded me yet again how lovely it is to have a group of people tell you to your face how much they like you!

Now Saturday night was a bit different.  Firstly, it was a much smaller audience (only about 35-40).  As we all know laughter is contagious, but with fewer people there are fewer laughs (people don't laugh by themselves!) Nevertheless, they laughed, just not as much as Friday.  Although there was no reception after the Saturday show, most people like to come over to congratulate the actors and give their "reviews".

After doing theater for over 30 years (oh, wow, I'm older than dirt!), I have developed a theory on audience behavior, based on observation and experience over those years.  To wit:

Friday Night Audiences:    They have just finished their work week.  They are out for a good time.  They are relaxed and happy.  They pay attention and catch all the subtleties.  They laugh at everything and they love you.

Saturday Night Audiences:  They have spent the day doing a gazillion things errands, laundry, shopping, little league, and so on.  They are pooped.  They are slightly cranky and a little impatient.
They sit back in their seats, cross their arms, and look like they are thinking, "All right, I'm here, so entertain me!"  They will laugh and love you too....but not right away!  They make you work for it!!

Sunday Matinee Audiences:   There are many Seniors who come in groups from retirement homes and community centers.  They are quiet and polite. They seem to enjoy it but they don't laugh much.  They smile a lot, but they don't laugh.  However, after the show is over they will tell you it was the best thing they have ever seen!  But they don't laugh!

My theory played out to a tee for our opening weekend (although we didn't have a matinee). 

There was one odd occurrence Saturday night that I have never encountered before.  I open the second act on a telephone call.  It is essentially a fairly long monologue with pauses built in just like in a real phone call.  During the first 6 or 7 lines (and pauses) of the monologue, there were two women in the audience fairly close to the front who were having a full-voice conversation complete with laughing, at the same time I was doing the monologue!  They appeared to be totally oblivious to my presence!  I found myself having to speak over their voices which kind of threw me.  Of course, there was nothing I could do but carry on, but I was seething!  How rude!  Finally someone in the audience very loudly "SHHHHH-ed" them and they stopped but it was still very distracting.  I don't think it caused me to drop any lines, but it was tough.  Did they think they were watching a movie or TV???  I don't know, but they sure weren't watching me!  Strange.

After weeks of rehearsals four nights a week, it is odd not to be at the theater tonight, but we will have a speed line run on Thursday night and then 2 weekend performances.  There will be a total of seven more performances over the next three weekends.  Each weekend we complete is rather bittersweet, knowing that the number of performances remaining keeps dwindling.  One of the things I like the best about doing theater is that each production has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is a scheduled cycle.  We have finished the beginning, finished the middle, and are on our way to the end.   That is the way it always goes, once we have opened we are on a countdown to the end....and that part always makes me sad.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Comedy Tonight"

I got home from our final dress rehearsal at about Midnight and our show opens tonight (Friday).  I am glad to say, we are ready.  In fact, at this point we need to have an audience to respond to.  Without an audience there is nothing more we can do to improve it.  The energy that flows between actors and audience is an almost tangible thing and without it, a performance will always suffer from it's lack. We have a great cast.  The director did a fine job.  The Stage Manager is keeping on top of all the gazillion things he has to do.  Costumes are set, props are at the ready, the set is other words, it's time for curtain up!

I think it is a very funny show.  Actually, we all think it is a funny show.  Nevertheless, past experience has taught me that there are no guarantees in theater.  Something I think is screamingly funny, doesn't get a giggle from one audience, while a different audience will carry on like the show is a mix of the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, and Robin Williams.  There is no predicting how people react.  All we can do is present the lines in the best way we know how and hope for the best.

There is some confusion about who actually said this, but a very wise actor from some earlier era was heard to say on his deathbed, "Dying is easy.  Comedy is hard!"  Ain't that the truth!

Here's hoping for a great opening night....after all, its "Comedy Tonight"!!

The Senator and the Reporter

The "Private Eye" and the "Mortician"

The Senator

The Relatives

The Couple

The Crusader
All photos the work and property of

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Getting to Know You"

Well, okay, this post is really more about "Getting to know ME"  lol!  I've mentioned before how much I enjoy these quizzes and today it felt like one of those days.  So I hopped on over to Sunday Stealing here and in their time-honored tradition stole this meme.  Feel free to use it if you like, your choice....but I hope you enjoy it!
Today we ripped off a blogger named Tense Teacher of the blog Tense for a Reason.  She does not say where she got it from. But, it was probably stolen there as well. So, of course, that will be as far as we go. Tracing back our theft's thieves might take some time. Take the time to comment on other player's posts. It's a great way to make new friends! Link back to us at Sunday Stealing!
Sunday Stealing:
The Never Ending Meme, Parts One and Two

1.  Song that always makes you sad?    "Slippin' Through My Fingers"  (from Mamma Mia soundtrack).  It is a beautiful, bittersweet song that I completely understand.

2  Last thing you bought?   A red purse for part of my costume needs.

3.  Last person you argued with?   The Big Guy, but, not to worry, we argue a lot....bicker, bicker,'s one of our favorite activities!   LOL!

4.  Do you put butter before putting the peanut butter on?   No, but Mikey does!

5. One of your stuffed animals’ names as a kid?   I named my teddy bear, Teddy, I was so creative!

6.  One place you could travel right now? Anywhere I can get to by driving! I do not fly anymore.

7.  Favorite day of the week?   Since I've retired, any day I wake up  still breathing is my favorite!!

8.  Favorite sundae topping?   Hot Fudge!!  Is there any other kind?

9.  Did you take piano lessons?   No, but I always wanted to play piano.  I didn't want to "learn" how, I just wanted to KNOW how!   (lazylazylazylazylazy)

10.  Do you use umbrellas?   I have one located very handily in my car door.  I don't believe it has ever gotten wet!  (Thus, the answer would be NO.)

11.  Do you know all the words to the Canadian national anthem?   No, why ever would I?  I live in Texas!

12.  Favorite cheese?   Almost any food is improved by Cheddar cheese!

13. Do you prefer blondes or brunettes?   I loved being blond!  I'm more than a little sorry I gave it up.

14.  Best job you ever had?   I worked at Camelot for four years....(fodder for another post on another day.)

15.  Did you go to your high school prom?   No.  Nobody asked me.  Men!  Hmmppf!

16.  Perfect time to wake up?   About 7 hours after I go to bed.

17.  Perfect time to go to bed?   When I can't keep my eyes open one minute more.

18. Ever been in a car accident?   Yeah, darn it!  More than once.   Luckily, I have never been injured (nor has anyone else!)

19.  Closer to mom or dad…or neither?   My mom and I were very close, but I miss them both!

20.  What decade during the 20th century would you have chosen to be a teenager?   The 60s were the perfect time, I'm glad I lived then.

21.  Favorite shoes you have EVER owned?   When I was in my 30s I had several pair of absolutely killer heels, and the legs to show them off!  I loved them all, but my all time favorites are a black suede pump with a slim braid across the top, and a not-too-high heel with a slight flair at the bottom.  They are a great, sexy shoe!  I truly miss being able to wear great heels.  (But NOT the current style of sky-high platforms....they make my feet hurt just to look at them!!  They look ridiculous and no one can walk in them gracefully!)

22.  Do you have an article of clothing you have had since you were in high school?   Heavens No!  Do you know how old that would be???  Fabrics don't last very well over centuries, you know!

23.  Were you ever in a school talent show?  Yes, I sang (now there's a surprise!)  It was in college and I sang "I Can't Say No" from Oklahoma.  I didn't win, but they all laughed when they were supposed to!

24.  Have you ever written in a library book?   I've never written in ANY book!  And I haven't dog-eared a book since I was 11 years old!

25.  Allergic to?   The only thing I might possibly be allergic to is scallops.  This is unconfirmed, but twice I was violently ill very soon after eating them.  I will never eat them again!

26.  Favorite fruit?   The forbidden one!  :)

Cheers to all of us thieves!


Friday, January 13, 2012

"Another Openin', Another Show"

As of tomorrow I will be officially one week away from "Another Openin', Another Show".  It's been a couple of years since I've done a show and I have missed it desperately.  I am looking forward to being back where I belong. 

I have been acting in theaters for over 30 years.  I've had wonderful experiences, and not so wonderful experiences.  The company of actors, staff people, tech people together are responsible for what happens on stage.  In general, they have a combined commitment to do the best they can, whether it is a Broadway show, a professional touring company, or your local community theater. 

During my 30 years in "show biz", I have encountered all sorts of audiences and sometimes I'm not sure that those audiences really understand what theater is.  So in case, you are contemplating going to see a show anytime soon (which I heartily encourage!!), here are some things you should know.

You may not be aware of this, but live performance means exactly's live with real people up on the stage actually saying the lines, moving around, trying their best to entertain you.  It is not a movie or television.  It is not being broadcast from something that was filmed at another place and time.

Nope, those people you see  (the actors) are truly right there, creating a reality for you to enjoy....and we can see you and hear you!  We can see people coming in 10 or 15 minutes after the show begins.  We can see the guy texting in the third row.  We can hear the couple carrying on a conversation in the middle of the show.  Actors can see if your hubby nods off or looks around and fidgets during the whole show.  We can hear you rummaging around in your purse for something.  We can hear you coughing or sneezing.  We can and often do find all that distracting, annoying, or just rude. 

We are up there after weeks of rehearsals, running scenes over and over to get them as good as we can make them.  We work hard!  We practice dances and songs until our toes bleed or we lose our voices.  We memorize pages and pages of dialogue.   Truth be told, we love it and that is the main reason we do it, but we do it for you too!  An audience can make or break a show.   Without an audience there is no point in doing what we do.  We love having an audience, but we love some audiences better than others.  Here are some things that make a great audience:

*  If you find a scene or a line funny, go ahead and laugh....please! 

*  Tears are okay too!  However, except in the case of a melodrama where you have been instructed otherwise, talking back to the actors is an absolute NO-NO!

*  Please arrive early enough to get to your seat with a minimum of disturbance to other patrons.

*  Most theaters will try very hard to have "Curtain Up" at no more than 5 minutes after the announced curtain time.  Please respect that by arriving well in advance of the start time.

*  Some things beyond your control can make you late for "Curtain up"!  These things happen.  The ushers may bar your way into the theater until such time as your entering will not disturb the integrity of the scene.  This is what they have been instructed to do.  Please cooperate with them.

*  If refreshments are allowed in the theater, please keep the opening and crinkling of candy bags as soft as possible.  If refreshments are not allowed, please don't try to sneak it in.  There is good reason to keep food in the lobby.

*  DO NOT bring phones, pagers, or the like into the theater unless they are muted!  This is important.  A phone ringing in the middle of a dramatic scene from Hamlet is wrong on so many levels! 

* If you become ill, or have a need to leave the theater for any reason, if possible try to leave during intermission.

*  By  all means read and enjoy the program we give you....but do so at intermission. 

*  Please do not bring young children to a show that is not appropriate for them to see!  Many shows are directed toward children, but many are not!  In fact, many are clearly adult in nature and children should not be in attendance at all.  If in doubt contact the theater before you make plans to attend.  The staff will be happy to help you.

*  If you do bring a child to a show, please remove him/her from the house immediately if he begins to cry or misbehave.  

*  At the end of the show (and at the end of scenes) please show your appreciation by your applause.  In many cases this is the only payment actors ever get!

There are a few specific things that relate to community or independent theaters:

* If you really enjoy a show, tell your friends!  Encourage them to see it too!  Word of mouth is the best advertising we can get.  This is particularly true for independent and/or community theaters.

*  If you feel so inclined, make a donation to the theater.  Many theaters are not-for-profit organizations that run on a shoestring.  Your financial help can help keep them going!

*  If you think doing a show looks like fun, that's because it is fun!!  Volunteers are always welcome! There are a lot of ways to help and you don't ever have to go on stage unless you want to! . 

*  Most importantly, don't go to just one show!  Sign up as a subscriber or buy a season ticket, or at the very least come back any time there is a show you'd like to see....and there is always "Another Openin', Another Show",  I guarantee it!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Bits and Pieces" (for January 10)

Just a few bits of this and some pieces of that in my world on January 12....

1.  I have finally finished the Defensive Driving online course!!  At last!  Now I will admit I did procrastinate on getting it done.  Sometimes having a deadline that's  too far away just seems to encourage sloth.  Time is such a funny thing.  It never lasts as long as you (well, I) think.  One day can last an eternity and three months can disappear in a blink!  I didn't exactly wait until the last minute.  I have been working on it in sections since weeks.  I just didn't build in any extra time for problems.  What a dunce!  There are always problems when a computer is involved!  I know that or at least, I should. 

So I was working on the last section and it took me three times to get through it because my computer kept conking out!  And then once I finally got it finished, the silly think wouldn't print what it was supposed to print.  When I called the company to find out how else I could handle it, they have NO back-up system in place to be able to get the documentation to you if you cannot print it!!  What??  Really??  Their advice?  Go to another computer and try it there.  Well, I don't know about you, but I don't happen to have an extra computer laying around waiting for emergencies.  I would have to go to the library and deal with an unfamiliar system in public use.  I would have bet money that once I got there all the computers would be in use or broken.  Ok, let's come up with Plan C.  Call daughter, talk her through process and see if the documentation would print for her!  And, it did!!  Now all I have to do is pick it up.  Then wait for the Completion Certificate to be overnighted, take it to the Court, wait in line, hope that everything is there and finally, get my record clear!  I have to have it done by the 25th.  Piece of cake, right?  We'll see!

2.  It is hard for me to believe it, but the show I've been rehearsing since before Thanksgiving will open a week from Friday!  Having the holidays come in the middle of the rehearsal period really make the time fly by!   Sunday we start Tech Week (or as some call it, Hell Week.....because it can be!)  On Monday evening we start will full costume runs.  Now that doesn't matter much to anyone but me!  The entire rest of the cast has one costume.  Their part of the show takes place all in one day with several different scenes, but still just one day.  I, on the other hand, am in three scenes and I have three different costumes.  At least none of them are quick changes as I open the first act, open the second act, and finish up in the final scene!  I'll have lots of dead time back stage while everyone else is onstage.  Strange construction. 

I actually think it just might be a really funny show.  Of course, predicting what makes an audience laugh is like  telling fortunes....sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don't.  It is also true that no two audiences react the same or  laugh at the same things.  It's live theater, that's part of the territory!   Tickets are available!  (If any of you from this area are interested in coming to see it, let me know and I'll shoot you a flyer with the info.)

You may not hear anything from me next week, because we could end up having late nights and we go right into performances Friday and Saturday.  Just so you know....

3. I got some great news!!  Because the show will be running for four weekends, Little Sis was able to arrange her work schedule so that she can come and see it!!  Yahoo!  She hasn't seen me on stage for twenty years or more and she has never seen me in a non-musical!  Living so far apart for so long, she wasn't able to see any of my favorite roles, which is too bad.  This one won't be at the level of some of the others  (it's just a piece of fluff), still I am so excited that she is coming!!  Whee!

4.  Christmas is slooooowly disappearing, verrry slowly!  From the outside it looks like Christmas has left the building, but inside is a whole other story.  I've been dealing with a little bit (a very little bit)  each day,  When you have as much stuff and Mikey and I do, it takes a long time.  We store most of it in storage bins (around 15"x17"x12") and they are all lined up on shelves along the side of the garage. The large things (mostly outdoor stuff) goes up to the attic.   Because I keep acquiring more stuff, we keep having to add bins too!  We will probably reach full capacity this year once it all gets put away.  Of course, I've said that before.  We just keep reconfiguring things to maximize the functionality.  I suppose I really should make it clear to Ratchlet that she may not get much of a monetary inheritance from old mom and dad, but boy, will she have Christmas stuff! 

5.   Someone asked me yesterday, how my winter has been this year.  It made me remember that just like every year, the fact is that there is still 3 more months of winter AFTER Christmas.   I have always thought that was just so unfair!  Christmas and winter can be pretty (from the inside) and some folks even are disappointed if there is no snow, but once January hits, I am ready for Spring!  Right away!  Enough with the cold, enough with the grey, enough of the rain (or possibly snow or ice).  Enough of sweaters, and socks, and scarves. I do not want to wait until March for Spring!!  I want to see the little daffodils and irises poking up through the soil.  I want those cute little buds that suddenly pop out on the trees.  I'm ready for my Spring coats and brighter colors.  Let's skip right to Easter!  Anybody with me?

6.  You may have notice, that not only is my house still full of Christmas, so is my blog!  I just haven't had time to play around with the background and stuff to move it into January.  One of these days,,,,maybe I'll go right to February!  

I keep telling myself, be careful what you setup in life, it will become a requirement and you'll need to do it all the time.  Do I listen to myself?  (That, my friends, is what they call a rhetorical question.)

7.  I have noticed over time, that the first few days of a New Year can really set the tone for what the rest of the year will be like.  On New Year's Day, our dryer went kaput!  It took nearly a week to get the necessary part (the whole circuit board!!) to fix it.  But fixed it is.  I started the try to catch up on the mountain of laundry tonight, found I had no fabric softener stuff....aaand, the ceiling light blew out.  Can't  reach it myself and can't do laundry in the dark, ya know?!! 

2012 could have gotten off to a better start....but then, it could have been a WHOLE LOT worse! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

"The Best Gift"

It's not that we have an official competition or anything. We don't really. On the whole, we're not that competitive. Still we all (that would be the Big Guy, Ratchlet, and me, the official Christmas shoppers), try very hard to find gifts that are suited to each other....books by favorite authors, the newest CD from a favorite artist, a canister set that would be just perfect for a newly-remodeled kitchen (but wasn't), the toy a child just can't live without....I'm sure everyone does that kind of thing to some extent.

We go a step or two further than some.  If we should happen to stumble upon something we had never even thought about, that would be absolutely and completely right for someone in our family, well, that is a definite mitzvah, a blessing!  (Hey, I'm playing a Jewish mother in my upcoming wears off, you know?)  If we find that something we know in our hearts, will touch the recipient with some emotional connection, well, we know it will be "The Best Gift".  I wrote about this breifly in a previous post, (from a Christmas-Past.)  The ultimate, most successful and wonderful-est gift is the one that brings the tears.

Please don't think we are weird! It isn't that we want to make each other cry! It's just that we each hope that one special gift (always the last one to be opened) will be truly perfect! We do this with all the love in our hearts for each other. It doesn't happen every year for every one of us. In fact, some years no one gets a "best gift". And that's okay. It is a matter of happenstance or serendipity or divine inspiration or possibly just good luck to come across the best gift. It is rarely the most expensive thing received. The monetary value has nothing to do with it. It doesn't come from the most exclusive store. In fact, sometimes it has been purchased in a thrift, resale, or consignment store, it might have been found in some random catalog, or a small specialty store, or a big department store.  It may be not much more than a small memento of some event or experience or interest.   There’s no planning it.  It’s one of those “know it when you see it” kind of things.  It might be new or it might not. It might mean absolutely nothing to anyone one else in the world, but for the right person....ahhhh, it brings a lump in the throat and tears to the eyes and great joy knowing that someone in your family knows you so well, that they managed to find a best gift just for you.

Over the years, we have hit it many times with Ratchlet, we did it frequently with my mom, occasionally with my sister, even few times with my dad. I am an easy mark....I cry more often than anyone. If you've never had a similar experience, this may not mean much to you. But in our family getting a "best gift" is the ultimate in happiness and love. I know that M-t-G is still too young for us to identify a "best gift" for her, her tastes are still forming, she is not overly sentimental, she is enamored of everything she gets….to her they are all “best”.  TA is another story.  Gifts are not important to him.  His family functioned differently and sometimes he just doesn’t quite get the whole gift thing at all.  His enjoyment comes from the togetherness and family.

My mom was a magician at Christmas.  She was able to give us all a wonderful Christmas every year, no matter how low the coffers might have been.  She started this “tradition” many, many years ago.  She was the most loving and giving woman, and at Christmas, Mom was at her very best.  She always went overboard as far as numbers of gifts and she, too, would hit with the “best gift” for one of us nearly every year.  So this has been a part of Christmas for my whole life.  Mikey and I have always tried for the same loving and happy Christmas that Mom gave us.  We love our family’s Christmas and all it’s traditions. 

And this year, there was a “best gift”.  It was perhaps, the best “best gift” ever!  And it was for someone who frequently was able to give “best gifts”, but had never experienced one himself.  Yes, the  recipient of the best gift this year was my Mikey!  Despite years of thinking that maybe this year will be the one.  This will be the time, I manage to find the perfect gift for him, the “best gift”.  There have been many times that he has really liked one gift or another, but the ultimate indication of the “best gift” never occurred.  No tears.  No “crying for happy.”  No special feeling of sentiment and emotion all tied up in love and joy.   And year after year, I felt let down when my hopes were dashed again.  I just never hit it quite right.  I wanted to find the perfect thing that would let Mikey feel the same happiness that the rest of us had felt knowing that we were loved so much and known so well!  It didn’t happen.  It was frustrating, but I kept trying.

I am almost reluctant to tell you what it was.  It wasn’t incredibly expensive, it wasn’t all that exotic or rare, it wasn’t something that everyone would want, or even something that would be special for most people.  But it was special for my Mikey. Mikey's heritage is Irish, his grandparents came here from County Mayo.  His Dad had spent some time in Ireland as a young man.  That heritage is imporant to Mikey.  The last present he opened this year was a genuine,  Irish Shillelagh, made by hand from blackthorn wood harvested from remote areas of County Wicklow, Cork, or Kerry in Ireland  along with a certificate of authenticity.  It was beautiful in a gnarly sort of way, highly polished, and just the right height for a walking stick.   He absolutely loved it. 

This isn't it, but it is very similar!
 It was a great moment!  After forty plus years, Mikey finally got his “best gift”!!  And he cried for happy! 

Merry Christmas, Bunky!

Friday, January 6, 2012

"The Twelve Days of Christmas"

(The first of my make-up posts.  Warning:  It is loooong!)

One by one I have watched my neighbors and friends put away Christmas, sometimes even starting on Christmas Day itself! By New Year's Day nearly everyone has dismantled Christmas for the year.

It is our feeling here at this house, that we have until the day before Christmas Eve to get all the decorations UP  for Christmas. But after Christmas Day, there is absolutely no thought about taking things DOWN until the day after January 6.  "The Twelve Days of Christmas" are the days to enjoy the lovely things one has. It is so much more pleasant then. No rushing around, no special cooking, no grumpy guests who don’t know when to go home!
Here in one swell foop (I just love that Spoonerism, don't you?)  Are a few of the photos from Christmas 2011 at my house.  Now you all know what a miserable photographer I am, so I basically took about four times as many photos as are included in my collage, but these are the ones that didn't go all blurry! 

Going from left to right (mostly) these are captions for the individual pictures:  (If you click the collage, it will enlarge, I think.)
Some of our Christmas favorites this year!
1)  The large free-standing Christmas Girl Ratchlet gave me for Christmas.  Goes along beautifully with the white, ivory clear, and gold on the white tree.

2)  One of "our" first ornaments, circa 1966.

3)  A charming small Nativity ornament given to me by a dear friend of our family, Mrs. L.  She's been gone many years now, but I remember her fondly every time I put it on the tree.

4)  Our main tree.  It looks a little sparse this year because so many of our ornaments ended up on our White tree. 

5)  "Santa and the Phone Call" figures.  Another thing we've had since our first Christmas together.  They are so sweet!

6)  One side of our mantle with a vintage photo I found in the Antiques Mall, in mid-December.  It too is very sweet!

7)  Our white tree (inspired by Susan at Ash Tree Cottage  The gold is much more prominent in the photo than it is in reality.  Thanks Susan, I love how it turned out!

8) A handmade memento from one of my actor friends after a production we worked on together.  Suits me to a tee!

9)   Another view of the white tree.

10)   Some random ornaments to show how varied our collection really is!

11)   I finally added two cloches to my growing collection of vintage-look things.  Here is one dressed with a little pink-cheeked angel.

12)  The very first Christmas ornament made by Ratchlet at Nursery School, when she was four!

13)  Some of my collection of white ceramic Santas, along with the new snow globe featuring a white Santa (another lovely gift from my darling daughter.)

14)  (I can't believe it, a duplicate!!)  The corner of the mantle again!

15)  The sofa table dressed for Christmas....first thing you see when you go into the family room.

16)  A photo of my mom (along with the antigue snow lady, just out of sight) in the place of honor on the white tree!

Yep, the 12 Days of Christmas are my favorite part of Christmas. My house never looks as good as it does at Christmas time. Why is everyone in such a hurry to put it away??

As I said, we don't start taking it down until after the Epiphany (Jan 6).  That is also known as Three Kings' Day, because that represents the day that the King's arrived to present their gifts to the Child.    In addition, it is the actual twelfth day of Christmas.  So, as far as I'm concerned Christmas is still ongoing until this day. 

There are a few stalwarts around that still have their lights up and their tree twinkly, but not that many.  When I was living in Chicago, it was more of a rarity to see it taken down sooner.  I think it probably has to do with being raised Catholic (or maybe certain nationalities like German or Irish.)  For Catholics, January 6 is a Holy Day and is the official end of the Christmas season on the Church Calendar.  But then Chicago has thousands of Catholics, Austin not nearly so many and it doesn't appear that many of the Protestant churches recognize Epiphany with anything special. 

Anyway we've enjoyed our Christmas decorations very much this year.  After years and years of pretty much the same things in the same places, after inspiration from other bloggers who put together beautiful displays, we have changed things around and added more new stuff than usual.  And even though, my photos don't  do it justice (big surprise!), our home looked wonderful.

I was so pleased with the way our white tree turned out, even though after four cans of white spray paint, plus one can of "snow", it still wasn't really white but more of a green & white!  Here is a better picture of the finished product.  The gold still looks too prominent than it really is, but I just love it.  I think it will become a permanent part of  our Christmas tradition!   Oh, by the way, do you see the green tree skirt under the tree?  My mother made that for us some years ago and I didn''t have a place for it for the last few years.  I am thrilled to be able to show off her handiwork again.  Mom will always be a big part of our Christmas.

I have to admit that even I can't come up with any legitimate reason to hold on any longer.  All of the Christmas cookies are gone, both the lovely meal Mikey prepared for us for New Year's Day (a day late) and the different leftovers are long gone.  There is still a small amount of fudge left but we are rationing that and it should last a few more days, but I can't stretch that into a reason for keeping Christmas going.   It was a wonderful Christmas, but its really truly over.

Now all we have to do is put it all away......hmmmm, wait a minute, a lot of the things are red or you think anyone would notice if it all stayed around til after Valentine's Day??

Okay, Okay, it was just a thought!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"A Capella"

Hello dear ones!  I have been seriously remiss in my posting for the last two weeks and at Christmas time too!!  Shame on me! 

The Big Guy was on vacation for the last two and a half weeks and that just messes with my routine.  Don't get me wrong, it was nice to have him around, but what with his presence, the rush and bustle surrounding Christmas prep, the actual holiday, then a "quiet" week leading up to New Year's (we went to a party for the first time in was Ratchlet's party, but still...)  We had a great time.

Then on top of all that rehearsals, this stupid driving test that I am taking in chunks, and the cold-ish weather that makes me want to stay at home in front of a lovely fire in the fireplace, well, the bottom line is that nothing got written.

It's not that there wasn't anything to write about.  I started several times to draft a post, but it just wasn't happening.  Too much distraction I guess.

At any rate you all got gypped on my lack of Christmas stories and photos and stuff.  I am sorry about that, especially for the sweet souls who keep checking every day even though the cupboard was bare!  Might I suggest that you go back to Christmas 2009 and 2010 (look in my archives in the sidebar) if you really need a Christmas fix from me!  Ha!  (If I only had a ego, I would be perfect!  Silly me!)

Well, I am bound to get back on track now that all of that holiday whirlwind is over.  If you can stand it, I will try to catch up with some "make-up" posts over the next few days.  In the meantime, just so you know, we had a WONDERFUL Christmas....I'll share some stories, I promise.

(I feel like such a slacker, but the truth of the matter is my brain can only deal with a certain number of thoughts and concerns at a time...and I guess I hit that number and something had to give, sigh....)

See you soon!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"May You Always"

"Auld Lang Syne" has been the semi-official song for New Year's for decades (centuries?), but not many really know what that means.  I think "May You Always" is a better choice for sending best wishes to all the new friends that I've met through blogging.  "May You Always" is a song of farewell to a lost love, but for tonight, it works pretty well as my wishes for you!
So, dear friends, I hope you all have a wonderful and Happy New Year, and for all of 2012, here is what I wish for you!

May you always walk in sunshine,
Slumber warm when night winds blow;
May you always live with laughter,
For a smile becomes you so.

May good fortune find your doorway,
May the blue bird sing your song;
May no trouble travel your way,
May no worry stay too long.

May your heartaches be forgotten,
May no tears be spilled;
May old acquaintance be remembered,
And your cup of kindness filled, and

May you always be a dreamer,
May your wildest dreams come true;
May you find someone to love
As much as I love you.

Happy New Year!

Hugs and kisses,

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