30 December 2005

A really great present

Okay, several years ago, I gave Charles and Samantha (this was pre-Garrett or he'd have gotten them, too) comfy long underwear for Christmas. In my defense, it was a cold, cold winter and the long underwear was really cute. Samantha's even had little pink flowers and everything. Nonetheless, I now must wander the earth carrying with me the knowledge that I am the kind of person who gives little children long underwear for Christmas. Bring on the 17 cats - it's my fate. I know.

I am also related to my mother's entire family, so it's possible that my idea of what constitutes a great present is somewhat skewed.


At Brett and Cate's on Boxing Day, Eileen presented me a cheerfully wrapped Wand of Brussels Sprouts, which I proudly displayed to the assembled company. Yes, I got a lovely twinset from David, and yes I got really nifty "bins" (binoculars to you poor, benighted, non-birding souls) from Dad & Audrey, and yes, I got tasty Godiva chocolates from Chort, but get real - these are actual, edible Brussels sprouts on a convenient, organic Shillelagh.

David and I had some that night and I had some more this evening. I lightly boiled them (as I currently lack a vegetable steamer) and then make them happy with butter, salt, and pepper. I also made some not bad gluten-free spiral pasta and a turkey cutlet with Filippo Berio olive oil* and lemon & herbs. I had an apple that was pretty much use or lose, so I chopped it into bite-size pieces and threw it in with the turkey. Ummmmmmm Yummmmm. (*I use Filippo Berio because a friend works for them. Someone should benefit from my rather profligate way with olive oil.)

I have probably 3 more servings of sprouts left, so I'll be having more soon.

Thanks, Eileen!!!

22 December 2005

Please don't let this be happening to others

The people on the 9th floor (we are on the 8th) are having their holiday party today and earlier this afternoon they were only playing very, very loud music.

Now they've broken out the Karaoke machine. The volume goes to 11. Dear Lord.

19 December 2005

Even if he reads the post, maybe he won't follow the link

David is rehearsing The Crucible (Coming soon to the Reston Community Players!) and, thus, has been researching the Salem Witch Trials and the brand of Puritanism practiced in that period. Well, saints and sinners preserve us, but look what I found a link for on Brett's webpage.

Sure, Christmas was only banned from 1659 to 1692, but Reston's website says that the Trials took place in 1662 - smack dab during The Grinch Times! And even if that gets corrected (as I suspect that it will - or - sigh - my own information will be corrected, dare I say pedantically.) perhaps David would have thought that Governor Danforth would be old school enough to shun the holiday. Or that the ban couldn't have been lifted in time for the purchasing and wrapping of really good presents! What if he returned all my Christmas presents in an effort to immerse himself in his character?!

Horrible. Too horrible.

16 December 2005

I'm in love with a girl named Fred!

Carol Burnett got very famous when she played Princess Winifred in Once Upon a Mattress, which is one of my very, very favorite musicials. The book is charming and the score by Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard) is far better than most anything written recently (yes, I mean you, Wicked). Mattress is now a standard of community theaters and had a nice broadway revival with Sarah Jessica Parker in Burnett's role and I find it delightful everytime I have the chance to see it.

Well, I have the chance to see it on Sunday evening because Ms. Burnett an executive producer and is starring as Queen Aggravain in a movie version for television to run on ABC (7PM Eastern). Hoorah, hooray!

Carol said in an interview that Bob Mackie, who did all her wonderful costumes for The Carol Burnett Show designed the costumes, but the IMDB doesn't verify that. But let's just take a moment and remember the best costume he - or anyone - ever designed for a sketch comedy show: The Curtains Dress from "Went with the Wind." I laugh just thinking about it.

So round up the kids, pop the popcorn, and enjoy a classic of American Musical Theater. Of course, I have rehearsal that night, so I'll be taping it......

Oh, and I'd like to note that the next time someone tells an actress that's she's too old to play a role, that person may get reminded that Tracey Ullman, who is playing Princess Winifred, is 45.

How to bore the NSA

Have them wiretap me. Can you imagine? Some poor sot at the covert agency has to listen -- in real time -- to my rambling prattle. Especially as I really only have about a half dozen topics that I discuss to death.

Cover Agency Program Manager (CAPM): "Okay, folks, here are the wiretap assignments for this week." Passes around self-destructs-in-five-seconds paper lists.

Three dozen agents not assigned to listen to me: "Whew."

The Short Straw: "Ohhhh noooooo."

Agent (2) who had to wiretap me last week: "Just pray that she's not auditioning for something. You know how she goes on and one about that."

Agent (3) from the week before: "No, she got cast in something. I think she's back to cute stories from work and that Celiac Disease thing."

Agent (4) who had the week when my life was too exciting even for me: "Really? How's the cat doing? He was in and out of the vet back in November."

Agent 3: "Cat's fine. And that damn kids show is over, too."

All: "Oh, thank G-d."

The ritual bottle of strong spirits is passed to a rather shaken looking Short Straw. The meeting breaks up and all but one agent exits the room whistling cheerfully. Well, all but two. Agent 2 is still a broken man with a haunted look and a bit of a tremor.

You know, there is a certain irony in the fact that enemy combatents and furriners are now (theoretically) protected from torture, but NSA operatives might have been suffering agonies untold via my telephone and e-mails for months and months.

So sweet and kind and yet so very Brett

From: Brett
Sent: Friday, December 16, 2005 9:24 AM
Subject: Acknowledgement That Some Derive Pleasure From Holidays and Festivals Celebrated At Or Near This Time Of Year Party, Decemeber 26th 2005.

We are having an Acknowledgement That Some Derive Pleasure From Holidays and Festivals Celebrated At Or Near This Time Of Year Party at our house on December 26th, from 2pm to 8pm. This party is intended to derive pleasure from our gathering as friends during this time of year when many are celebrating their all equally worthy celebrations without favoring any of these celebrations directly over any other celebrations as that could offend someone and that is bad. You, as one of said friends with a working email address are invited, along with your family and any others whom you think appropriate whose email address I don't have or have wrong. I have been out of the US for the last three year end celebratory periods and see that things have changed somewhat about how the 'holiday' period is celebrated and acknowledged, so rather than be judgmental about it, I have decided to pitch in with the spirit of the times.

We will be grilling, with plenty of grill space and will provide some other food and drinks, but feel free to supplement the food and drink with anything you think is appropriate, 'holiday' themed food and drink is welcome, but non-holiday food will not be made to feel sad, at least not any more sad than it feels already during this stressful year end time of celebrations.

Children of all ages are welcome, the house is fairly child safe, but nothing substitutes for good behavior. Children that insist on singing parts of 'holiday' songs over and over will be politely asked to do so in the yard. Older children and teens are also welcome, we will attempt to have a 'cool' corner where they can gather and gripe about how this Acknowledgement That Some Derive Pleasure From Holidays and Festivals Celebrated At Or Near This Time Of Year Party is really lame so they can get their money's worth as well

Gifts. Nothing causes more heartache and mental agony at 'holiday' time. I have been lobbied for and against gift exchange at the party. I have been told that some people I love will stay away if gifts are exchanged, and I have been told by others that this is the only time some people see each other and is thus the optimum time to exchange gifts. Ahhhhhggghhhh. First let me explain my unique (or deficient) theory of gift giving, then I will cut to the chase on the gift policy at the Acknowledgement That Some Derive Pleasure From Holidays and Festivals Celebrated At Or Near This Time Of Year Party.

I love to give and receive gifts. I love it year round; when I see something that I think would be cool for someone I tend to buy it. I then often forget I bought it and it disappears into my home somewhere. Sometimes for years. I have the memory of a duck and I am terrible about making lists so I tend to forget who I have given things to and who I haven't. If you are still my friend you have probably forgiven me this, unless you are one of those bitter stalker types who have been planning a horrid and relentless revenge for years. Anyway, I give gifts when I remember to, sometimes prompted by 'holidays', sometimes reminded by birthdays, and sometimes just because I managed not to forget the item I bought or found that kicked the whole thing off in the first place. Anyway the long and short of it is that I am embarrassed every year by having forgotten to get something for someone I really, really wanted to get a gift for, but just forgot. Then I feel like I let them down. Then I forget about it and hopefully sometime in the next year or two I remember them and get them something and they continue to be my friend. So, as you can see gift giving can be stressful to me too, yet somehow I really end up enjoying it. You cannot be worse at gift giving than I am. I have over the years offended all sorts of good people be either forgetting them, or just giving bad gifts. So if the thought of gift giving and receiving depresses you, please just think of how crap I am at it and rejoice. Wow, that went nowhere really.

Gifts at the party. First off, the schmaltzy bit, you are the damn gifts at the party. You. Your presence. Your company. You get the idea. That is what all of us who will be at the Acknowledgement That Some Derive Pleasure From Holidays and Festivals Celebrated At Or Near This Time Of Year Party really want. We want to see you and yours. However, if you want to exchange gifts at the party you may, as long as you are reasonably discreet about it. Please don't open gifts at the party. As for gift giving, there is some stress about who should give gifts to who. Should adults give other adults gifts? What about just giving food gifts? Only gifts for the children? I can't solve any of that for you, as noted above I am not organized in anyway in my gift giving, how could I possibly try to organize yours? Again, you are the gift at the party, anything else you want to do is up to you. If you feel stress because somehow you think more is expected of you I will either smack you or make you sit in the cool area where you can agree with all the teens at the party that the Acknowledgement That Some Derive Pleasure From Holidays and Festivals Celebrated At Or Near This Time Of Year Party is really lame. Friendship isn't a competition and there is no keeping score.

Lastly, if I have offended anyone, I apologize. You can smack me at the party. I cannot stress how much we missed you all while we were in the UK, please stop by and enjoy yourself. Besides, if you have known me more than a week you already know I am a jerk, so why would that change?


For Directions:
{yeah, like I'm really going to post that part to the entire internet}

P.S. My email address book is horridly out of date. I expect a ton of bounces here. Please let people know they are invited if you even vaguely think they should be. I will be trying to get an address book to have everyone put their info in for the party.

15 December 2005

William Proxmire, 1915-2005

"Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous."

11 December 2005

This explains a lot

The following is posted in Audrey's sewing room.

My Motto

"No one expects the stamp collector to actually mail letters with his stamps. No one expects the coin collector to use his coins in a vending machine for soda. So why does everyone expect me to use my fabric collection to actually sew anything"?

I'm not a fabriholic; I'm a fabric collector!

06 December 2005

How to stay young and beautiful forever

Come to work in my 60-degree offfice.

No, really. When I got in this morning, it was 60 degrees at my desk. It has since warmed up to 65, so I guess I should count my blessings, only I can't because my fingers are too cold.

29 November 2005


Elden Street is kind enough to post pictures on their website and the ones from Emperor are up. Whoo-hoo! And, ahem, note the unsolicited comment.

My adorable cast

All Photos by Jeff Boatright, edited by Richard Downer

28 November 2005

If I didn't do theater, I'd be the CEO here or something

I know that it's really weird, but if I don't have somewhere that I have to be after work, I just hang around here and kind of putter and get stuff done. I'm amazingly productive after 5:00 on a non-theater, non-plans-with-pals night.

(In fact, the Loyal and Dedicated will remember that this particular job was offerered to me about a half hour after I was off the clock because I was hanging around.)

Do I know why I do this? No, not really.

23 November 2005

Get 'em while they're cheap

The things one finds on the internet during a slow work day. My goodness.


Scroll down to #35.

David punts a perfect opportunity

Recently Karen and Jean discovered that David and I are dating. And have been for a while. So one night after a Book of Days rehearsal they made sure that everyone went out for a little cast bonding and then they flanked David and asked questions like "So how long have you been together?" and - much more importantly - "When are you two getting married?"

David told me about this and I begged him please to tell me that he had told them that my hints on that subject were getting less and less subtle and sounding, frankly, kind of desperate, but that he was resisting them.

But, no. Stickler for the truth that he is, David told them that we had no plans to get married because I'm not the marrying kind. What a fun-spoiler.

And, okay, I'm not. And neither is he. And if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

And skipping such an obvious chance to mess with good and kind people? Just so wrong.

On the other hand - ooooooohhhhhhh shiny.

22 November 2005

The Moral Turpitude Hat Trick

(Posted with Richard's kind permission. Because he thinks no one reads this or because he thinks I won't really post it, I dunno. Either way, he's wrong.) (Hi, Richard!)

Okay, so dedicated readers will remember that one of the interesting aspects of The Emperor's New Clothes was that it was finally brought nudity to the children's theater.

So, hey-ho, away we go, the show got cast, we had rehearsals, lots of fun was had, et and cetera. As we got closer to opening, I was zeroing in on breaking people of doing things that would prevent this from being the finest children's show ever. Kori needed to talk slower, Julie needed to stop shifting from foot-to-foot, stuff like that. Nothing major, just the usual clean up that you have to do. And Richard needed to be bigger.

Some actors are ... economical ... with their gestures and voices and for this show, I needed large, clean gestures and big voices. Which Richard resisted because he is not as naturally loud and extroverted as, say, I am. (Many, many, many people are not naturally as loud and extroverted as I am.) So I would tell Richard that I needed him to be bigger, and he would nod and file those statements away along with the other things that directors say.

As we got close to opening, I got more and more motivated to get a bigger performance from Richard, so during notes after a Tech Week rehearsal I told him that if at any time he went over the top in a performance, I would give him a dollar. Ritzya - who apparently had signed on to be Richard's manager - immediately asked if that was per performance or for the whole run. Per performance. Folks chuckled and Richard filed that away with the things that directors say.

(Ritzya, by the way, never needs to be told to be bigger. She goes over the top so often that she has a condo there. For which I was grateful more than once. White girl got jump.)

So I was giving the cast a little pep talk before the first performance and I took a dollar out of my pocket and showed it to Richard. "Meet the Ritzya standard, and this is yours." He nodded. Then I folded it up and stuck it in my bra. And, you know, one could actually feel him focus. And he said, "Okay, now I'm motivated." "Earn the dollar, Richard."

And several times he did. And I was delighted to be able to fish that dollar out and present it to him in front of the whole cast. In fact, at the cast party, I gave everyone a dollar for something great that they did during the run. But all those dollars came out of my pocket. Richard's was the only one tucked securely into my lingerie. Which meant, of course, that when dressing for the children's show, I had to wear something low-cut enough to allow me retrieve a dollar with any kind of grace.

So. I've directed my first children's show. And even though it didn't have a guy in a beard wearing a Big Pink Fluffy Skirt with Matching Hair Thing, it did have nudity, sex, bribery, and corruption. It was sort of like working at a strip club for minors.

Next time I'll see if I can work in the F word.

The Benign and Enlighted Leta Regime

When I am an Empress, I shall walk through my kingdom, no, wait, I guess it would be an empressdom, and I will wave at all the people ......

And there will be a few rule changes. For instance:

1. There will be no Christmas advertising, no Christmas music on the radio, nothing, nothing about Christmas until after December 1st. Those failing to uphold this law will be forced to wear a big, unventilated Easter Bunny suit all summmer long. The suit will have previously been worn by a heavy drinker with a sweating problem. (However, leaving Christmas lights up on the house all year will be acceptable. No point in having to climb up and down ladders twice a year if there's no gutter cleaning to do.)

2. Very simple: Myself is a reflexive pronoun. It is not a subject pronoun or object. Sorry Emily Dickinson.

Other rules will be promulgated as needed, but I heard a Christmas song on the radio today.

21 November 2005

Wil Wheaton nails it

Wil has blogged about the "close and strike" part of doing a show. Some shows are harder to close than others and there have been shows where we were so reluctant to leave that after the party, or the last round of food or drinks at the restaurant, we just stand in the parking lot, unable to walk away.

I have one theater friend with whom the best conversations - okay, our only real conversations - would happen in dark parking lots, puntuated every twenty minutes with "Well, I better go." "Okay...." and one last hug good-bye and then just standing there and talking some more. I miss that.

souvenirs from better times

20 November 2005

Q&A with Producer Charles

On the way home from the show, Charles had some questions about how the play he just saw varied from the book of The Emperor's New Clothes that he had read. And Charles' recall of detail is pretty good, so he had fairly specific questions, illustrated with quotes from the book. (Until he gets his producing career started, Charles might want to consider being a college professor, as he tends to ask essay questions which require specific examples in reply.) Anyway, one of the things that Young Charles was curious about was why the Emperor wasn't completely naked at the end of the show. In the book, he's naked. (Brett and Cate - what kind of books do buy for this kid???)

Well, I explained, sometimes the book and the play are different, even though they come from the same story.

Yeah, but he wasn't naked. Why? (Or why not. Please answer briefly with specific examples.)

Well, because, Charles, you're eight years old, so you could handle seeing a naked actor, but a lot of the other kids are younger, some of them are only three years old, and it wouldn't be appropriate to have a naked actor in front of three year olds.

This seemed to satisfy him. Producers, after all, know that children's theater needs to be family friendly.

So great. He's better informed and one step closer to being a wealthy and award-winning producer.

And I'm going to spend the rest of my life knowing that I told an eight year old that he's mature enough to see naked actors.

19 November 2005

Charles's theater job

Last Sunday The Emperor's New Clothes was completely sold out. This would normally be a very good thing, except that we had to turn some kids away, including Charles, which broke my heart (and Sandy's and Kat's and Mary Ann's hearts, too). Charles was great about it and cheered up after I told him that I would bring him back the following week and that I was very, very sorry. Very. Very. (And thus Leta learns - again - the virture of making reservations.)

So this morning through a covert agency-amount of organization and timing and scheming, I collected Charles (age 8) and Deb (cast member) and off we went to Herndon. Arriving with the director means a pretty fair amount of time is spent cooling one's heals waiting for the show to begin and we forgot to bring a book for Charles, so he definitely wins the award for patience. Mind you, he got to walk with me to the bakery (and help carry back the booty), and he got a chocolate pretzel, and he got to hang out with Annie and Joey (Richard's adorable and well-behaved children who just miniatures versions of him) and Kaitlyn (Sandy's daughter. Sandy runs our box office. She is lovely and a dear.).

At one point Charles was muching his pretzel and listening to me and Sandy discuss some of the logistics for the day. He started asking questions about how the box office worked, how many seats are in the theater, how many reservations there were for the day, etc. And I had two thoughts: 1. That a little boy who didn't get to see the show last week would have a definite interest in how many reservations there were; and 2. That, although he never used the specific phrase "How's the house today?," Charles sounded an awful lot like a producer. So once again I have brought a child to Elden Street who can have a career in theater that doesn't involve acting and could involve making enough money to take his parents on nice vacations in foreign countries. His parents can thank me later.

Also producer-like, Charles wanted to know why there were lights on over the house but not enough lights on the stage, so I explained the difference between pre-show house lights and show lighting. He seemed to think that there were a lot of stage lights and that we wouldn't need to use all of them. Probably because he's getting his percentage off the back end and doesn't want to drive down the gross...

He offered to help, too. And charmed everyone.

And didn't want to sit down front as Samatha does, but wanted to sit in the back row in the least seat on house right, which is near the booth. Just like a producer.

18 November 2005

One for the D2005 folks

From Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac for today:

It was on this day in 1928 that Mickey Mouse was born. Walt Disney's "Steamboat Willie," premiered in New York at the Colony Theater. It was the first sound-synchronized cartoon to attract widespread public attention. Along with Mickey Mouse, the black and white cartoon featured Minnie Mouse and Pegleg Pete.

D2005 is the e-mail that Brett set up for a bunch of us who go to WDW together every few years, usually in November. I was supposed to go this year, but the trip was the exact dates of the Tech Week for my children's theater show, so I had to miss it. Oddly enough, that date conflict was created by accident by Mary Ann, my producer, who has the same relationship with the Tragic Kingdom that Brett does (and that's even after having worked at Disneyland some years ago). She was - quite rightly - completely stricken when she discovered that I would have to miss a trip to visit the Mouse, but has done as much as possible to make up for it by assembling for me such a good team to work with that I'm looking forward to directing another kid's show in the future. She'll just have to clear the dates with Brett before I sign anything, that's all.

17 November 2005

The reasons to adore Richard just keep piling up

When I told Richard that there was a great demand on the internet for pictures of him in his Emperor's New Clothes final costume (great demand in this case meaning that Rosellen asked), he said that yes, I could take a picture on closing weekend and post it.

So I've borrowed David's digital camera and will take several shots of the glory that is my children's show. I'll take pictures of the cast, the set we play under, our set, stuff like that.

Richard has agreed to this even though his employer (and quite a few of his friends) are likely to come across these pictures. What a guy!

How to have your Pop-Tarts and be gluten-free, too.

1. Find an acceptable gluten-free bread (Ener-G makes one that's not too horrible).
2. Buy or make frosting.
3. Make toast, smear with frosting.
4. Enjoy yummy gluten-free "Pop-Tarts"

Bonus: I've actually been doing this for years and years (well, with real bread, of course, not the stale air that passes for gluten-free bread at about $5/loaf), but now it counts as being "creative" and "coping" rather than just being weird.

Those strangers at Wikipedia

David and I were discussing something once and I made some kind of assertion, I don't remember what, maybe that the sun rises in the east, and as he often does when, apparently, he does not trust me to get the simplest facts straight (note italics and boldfacing. Hmphf.), he went haring off to the web to check what I had said on Wikipedia.

So I asked in that light casual tone that should serve as a warning, how he knew that what he found on Wikipedia was correct? As he launched into what was sure to turn into a lecture about how wikis work and the nature of collective information, possibly accompanied by a quick sketch of some kind chart showing the proportion of all human beings who know what they are talking about better than I do, I just cut him off and got to the real point of my question: Why is he willing to blindly accept the word of a bunch of strangers with internet access but he doublechecks what I say? Hmmmmmm?

Well, it seems that the Guardian, if not wondering quite the same thing, was at least wondering how trustworthy Those Strangers on the Internet are. Here is a link (via Chris Abraham) that I found during my recent "time of no time" about who they asked and what those people found.

All-in-all Wikipedia scores pretty well, even though I couldn't find a page for California Tortilla.

The Pekoe Story, Part I

Here's how it all started. About 5 years ago - or maybe 6 - Debbie sent me the following e-mail because she finds Dave-the-cat-guy's (see all my previous whining about the name "David" elsewhere) writing style humourous and after she shared a few of his missives, I became a fan as well. So one day in March of 2000, I got this one, which, while not as humourous, gets the point across:

For those of you looking for a more permanent feline companion, may we present Mister Kitty? Mr. K is about 14 months old, a neutered male orange tabby, and is, simply, a love. He's one of the few cats I've ever met who actually enjoys being hugged. In fact, if he feels he's not getting enough attention, he will climb up onto a convenient table or countertop, wait for you to pass, and--basically--throw himself on you, purring and rubbing against your face. He's very good with other cats; in fact, he needs at least one other kitty for play and companionship. Mr. K really is one of the two or three most affectionate cats I've ever met (and y'all know that I've known one or two), and he's quite handsome to boot (photo available on request). Again, if you have any interest at all, please let me know.

So I forwarded it to Mollie. I suggested that we foster a cat and she suggested that I just go ahead and adopt "Mr. Kitty." So I wrote to Dave-the-cat-guy:

Hi David -

My name is Leta and I'm a friend of Debbie who forwards to me some of your e-mails about cat rescue [and your comments on "Tosca," which really helped me to understand the opera better when I saw it]. Until recently I was dating someone allergic to cats so I didn't think it would it send a positive message if I got a cat for the house, but he and I are now just Very Good Friends. So I would be very interested in getting more information from you about become a Cat Fosterer. Kind a kitty rental or try-before-you-buy.

Here is the situation at my house: I live in Silver Spring in a medium-sized house with a housemate [Mollie] and her dog [Max]. Max is 13 and doing the arthritic, grouchy-old-guy thing. Because of the arthritis he rarely leaves the first floor of the house, so any cats who wanted to avoid him could do so easily. He has lived with cats before and while he doesn't understand them he's willing to peacefully co-exist. For the next 6 months or so Mollie also provides day care in our house for three little children, two of whom are about 2 1/2 years old and one who will be 2 in June. The children are also pretty much restricted to the first floor but are themselves lively [very lively] and affectionate and used to pets.

I grew up with Siamese cats [still my favorite breed], so I'm well aware of what goes into maintaining cats in the style to which they can very easily become accustomed. I'm also aware that they are pretty useless when it comes time for household chores, unless you consider hissing at the vacuum cleaner and hiding under the sofa to be useful.

Mollie and I have discussed it and we thought that I should talk to you about adopting Mr. Kitty [who can resist the concept of assault friendliness? As Deb can tell you that's my basic M.O., anyway] and about me serving as fosterer for an additional cat. This way Mr. Kitty can have friends to play with - and new and different friends over time - but I don't have to permanently commit to two cats right away. If Mr. Kitty has already found new employment, then we should just talk about me becoming a fosterer.

I went to meet "Mr. Kitty." Dave-the-cat-guy warned me that Pekoe had developed an aversion to Kitty Fairs and might not be Mr. Personality if he suspected that this was another blind date dressed as a casual gathering of humans. But, ha ha!, I'm smarter than that, so I just ignored the cat and chatted with the people. And even though, oddly enough, this is a tactic I am completely unable to deploy around men I find attractive, it worked a treat with the cat. Before long he was climbing up the back of the sofa to get more up close and personal. Within an hour, he was in his cat carrier, his few belongings were packed, and he was on his way to a brand new life.

To be continued..... Stay tuned for exciting scenes from the next episode of "The Pekoe Story!"

Next time on "The Pekoe Story" -- Pekoe hates riding in the car!

14 November 2005


Two tech weeks, back to back. A cat with medical problems. Lots of work at work. Let's just say that it hasn't been a very quiet time in my own personal Lake Woebegone. Phone calls have gone unreturned, ditto a fair bit of e-mail. Scheduled activities have been pushed around and rescheduled. My home grows ever filthier.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. "The Emperor's New Clothes" opened on the 5th, so I stopped driving to Herndon for those rehearsals. And "The Cocktail Hour" opened on the 11th, This coming week is still action-packed, but I think I'll actually be home on Wednesday to watch "Law and Order." David and I get to go to a movie tonight.

And there was great rejoicing.

PS - And I still can't sleep.

How to decorate a set

An e-mail I sent to my Dad the other day --

Below is a link the press photos for "The Cocktail Hour." If you look carefully at the last picture (the cast gathered around the piano), you can see my high school graduation picture (the one on the left) and your mother's picture (the one on the far right). Hidden behind my graduation picture is one of yours & Mom's wedding photos with all the grandparents.

This is the second show that I've done at the Stage that needed family pictures, so this is also the second show that all three pictures have been in. In fact, it was the need to dress the set for "Independence" that got the wedding photo and your mother's portrait framed, which I'd been meaning to do for years and had never gotten around to. For "Independence" we also had Mom's, Sara's, and my baby pictures, which used to hang in Gram's house. Aunt Dotty gave them to me after Gram died and they usually hang in my bedroom.

By pure coincidence, the colors used on the walls in "Independence" matched the tinting in your mother's portrait (a kind of dusty yellow and sage green), so it looked completely at home there.

I pretty much hate every picture of me, so I hate these press photos, too, but I really enjoy having real pictures of my family on the set.


02 November 2005

It's Children's Show Tech Week!

My kid's show, The Emperor's New Clothes (bringing nudity to a children's theater near you!), opens on Saturday. The way it goes at Elden Street is that the mainstage show has complete use of the theater until they open. The Weir, the show under which we are running, opened this past Friday, the 28th, for instance. So once, they have their opening performance on Friday night, we get the theater Saturday during the day and can stay there until actor call - around 6:30 or 7:00 pm. However, before we leave, we have to put away anything of ours so that the the Mainstage show can have their evening performance. Fair enough - they have to strike anything moveable so that we can do our thing during the day. And we have the theater to ourselves for the week and can leave our set up.

We had a dry tech, which is when lights and sound are set and cued without the actors present, on Sunday. Dry techs are both good and bad, but I prefer to give the cast a day off before we start a week of rehearsals. It gives them a chance to do laundry and tell their families that they love them. And will miss them. I actually like Tech Weeks because it's when everything comes together - lights and sound and costumes and set and actors. You can actually really see the show you are going to have, for one thing and for another, I love the intensity and comraderie of spending that much time together. If you have a good cast (and I do) those days are just golden. Hard work but golden.

Tonight we were running the pre-show music and randomly someone would hear something they liked and would shriek and run into the theater and sing along and maybe dance. (And what it must do for the teenagers on my crew to watch the old people dancin' up a storm....) Richard, among his many talents, can dance. So he and I did a modified jitterbug - modified because he can dance I cannot and because the music wasn't really right for it, but who cared? It was fun. And I danced, like a wave on the ocean...

We have only one more rehearsal because The Weir has a performance on Friday night. So we'll run the show and I'll give My Last Notes because I don't give notes during the run. And then we'll strike our set and give the theater back until Saturday morning when we face The Kids. We'll have two shows each Saturday (11:00 and 2:00) and one each Sunday (2:00) until the 20th. But after tomorrow night the show belongs to the cast and to Sally (my Stage Manager) and Jen (my Sound Designer) and the rest of the crew. I'll be a tourist, attending as many performances as I can and seeing everything that I didn't clean up. Seeing blocking mistakes I made, directorial choices I messed up, seeing everything I did wrong. And adoring my cast because they are so adorable. Who do I have a crush on for this show? All of them. Well, all of them but when he makes his entrance in his costume for the procession to show off the New Clothes, I love Richard the best because he wears that costume with such good humor and grace.

And once this show is up I go directly into Tech Week for The Cocktail Hour. Back-to-back Tech Weeks. Hmm. Ask me on the 12th if I still like Tech Weeks.

One for the English Majors

I was typing something for my boss today and noticed that he had written "Transition [adjective] [noun] ..." and I asked if we could make it "Transfer [adjective] [noun]....." He agreed.

In this world of corporate-speak, this tiny victory is a lit candle in the vast darkness. The Professional Organization of English Majors will be so happy.

So you want to be a director

Holly's rule - If it makes the director laugh, it stays in.

Leta's corollary - If it the makes the producer laugh so much she snorts, it definitely stays in.

27 October 2005

How to weird yourself out

1. Take the contact lens case that you've been carrying around in your purse for the last couple of years to the kitchen.
2. Drop the case into a clean coffee mug.
3. Pour boiling water over the lens case until it bobs around in the water.
4. Watch all the crap that was on the case settle to the bottom of the mug.


25 October 2005

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks passed away yesterday. MSN has a good article, but my memorial was to read one of my favorite essays by Sarah Vowell, Rosa Parks, C'est Moi, which I first heard on public radio on This American Life. It made me buy Sarah's book, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, just so that I could read that essay out loud to people, or make them read it.

Anything I could say about Rosa Parks would be utterly banal. I was born long after the Montgomery bus boycott and have never known a segregated society. (That's one for those "incoming freshmen have never known a world without CD players" lists. When I was an incoming freshman, I had never known a world that would prevent a child from going to school with me because she didn't happen to be white. Thank you, Mrs. Parks.)

I'll stop here because, while to quote Tom Lehrer, it takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee-house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on, having to this well-fed, Montgomery County, white girl speak out against racism isn't saying much. I'll leave it to the people who know what they're talking about and have more to talk about worth listening to than I.

21 October 2005

My readers - to quote Casey - rock

Thank you, Sir Dennis & Anonymous!!

I posted a few days ago that I would love to have the url for the most famous eBay wedding dress sale of all time.

Sir Dennis was unable to find the Wedding Dress Guy, but found another fun listing "My-Ex-Husband-is-Gay-Heres-the-unlucky-wedding-dress" and "Anonymous" found the Snopes.com listing for the Wedding Dress Guy that both verifies the story and debunks some of the more memorable bits of the listing. And also contains a link to a listing about "reflectoporn." I swear, I learn something every day and I never expected to learn about "reflectoporn." (Don't follow the link unless pictures of nekkid weirdos really improve your day. Just a suggestion.)

Thank you both! Now I have a nice, lasting link to the eBay wedding dress guy and to a woman who now sings Freda Payne's "Band of Gold" with real sincerity.

20 October 2005

Heads Up, NPR

The downside to Autumn would, of course, be that it is also pledge drive time at NPR. Technically, at NPR member stations.

I completely understand the need for the pledge drives and I contribute when and how I can. Not as often or as much as I should, but there are lots of good causes that don't get as much as I should give them (just ask Janice, the minister at my church). And I have friends who work for NPR and I think they should be paid their salaries. And I have a big, geeky crush on Scott Simon, so I definitely believe he should get paid. And Les told me that one of his favorite stations failed to meet their budgetary goals often enough and had to sell out. We don't want that to happen.


I hate, hate, hate it when in order to push the guilt button I get called a thief and a mooch. So I have a rule. My standard donation - when I can - to my local NPR station is $20/year, but I deduct a dollar every time I am accused to stealing by tuning in without writing a check. This morning Nina Totenberg used the word "Freeloader" twice in one paragraph - so that's $2 fewer of my dollars going to NPR. Using this system, some years NPR ends up owing me money.

In order to save NPR some badly needed dollars, I often dive for the radio dial as soon as I hear anything that sounds like pledge drive patter (PDP). And I'll return a dollar to the pot if I hear a good argument (like how much it costs to carry the shows I like, or how small a percentage of the operating budget comes from the government).

I really do like the new protection racket approach to the pledge drive - "pay us now and if we get enough money we'll shave a day off of the pledge drive." Sort of "Nice radio station you have here. I'd hate to see anything happen to it." Brilliant. Works for me. I'll leave the cash in a dead tree in the cemetary, but please don't hurt Marketplace.

And I like pledging via the internet during one of my favorite shows, so I often pledge during Car Talk or A Prairie Home Companion. Especially as they make really fun arguments for pledging. And never call me a freeloader.

I may post how much money I ended up sending in this year, but, in the meantime, operators are standing by. Please pledge now.


It's Autumn, when a young (....) woman's fancy turns lightly to thoughts of Autumn foods, like parsnips and turnips and chestnuts. Foods closer to the sage end of the herb/spice/condiment scale than lemon.

I found a couple of good recipes the other day for foods with either chestnuts or parsnips in them and one - Mercy! - for Chestnuts, Brussels Sprouts and Parsnips which for me is a real hat trick, as I love them all. (Note to David, don't worry, the recipe says that there's only 1 gram of saturated fat per serving.)

As I was gloating to Rich about this miracle, he told me about Chestnut Spread, or Creme de Marrons. (Note: My absolute favorite fun fact about the Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston movie The Bodyguard is that her character's name, Rachel Marron, pretty much meant "Brown Brown.")

I found the spread on Amazon and have added it to my wish list because, well, just read: This sweetened puree of chestnuts is delicately flavored with vanilla. It is a wonderful addition to pastries with its nutty richness and creamy texture. Mix chestnut puree into butter cream frostings, fondants, fillings of all types, and cake batters or just eat plain with creme fraiche. Or This sweet and smooth spread is a delicious topping for your morning brioche or your evening ice cream alike. If you have never tried this before, it is like a honey of creamed chestnuts. Even that description does not do it justice.

Rich says he found in the international section at a Safeway once but who do I trust more, Safeway or Amazon?

I have a whole cook book of chestnut recipes and it's time to start stocking up on those spiffy little brown beauties.

And as soon as I find a menu that contains caramel, chestnuts, ginger, parsnips, pine nuts, rosemary, spinach, and turnips, there will be no living with me.

18 October 2005

My consuming passion

Carol and I had a tea party a couple of weeks ago. Theoretically, it was a "tea tasting," which is to a tea party as a wine tasting is a to pub crawl, maybe. Anyway, we used lots of little tea pots (Carol has some truly amazing tea pots, I just have quite a few) and tried mostly green or white teas with names like "Drunken Concubine." It was a very successful day outside of the learning curve for using the little spoutless pots, which involved pouring nearly-boiling water around in the place in a rather profligate manner, and much tea was enjoyed.

It turns out, by the way, that the way to use the spoutless teapot is one of those important life lessons - you pick up the pot in one hand, pull the lid back slightly with the other, and pour with an outward appearance of confidence. No hesitation! No half-measures! Commit! This is your choice and your have chosen it! She who hesitates wears hot water.

The most amazing part of the tea-tasting (for me, anyway) was that Carol brought this tea that unused looks like a large hazelnut, but once it is droped into a (preferably clear glass) tea pot it opens into what looks like a lotus flower.

We're going to have another tea tasting sometime soon and we're going to invite Chris. Chris is a Jasmine tea kind of guy, so I'll get to try some teas I don't usually drink. It is good to step off the usual path.

* * * * *

Someone asked me once what teas I like. The short answer is that in general I prefer teas that are named for people or places & meals (King Richard, Irish Breakfast).

Earl Grey is an exception because usually teas named for people don't have orange oil in them and I'm not big on citrus in my tea. Then again, for years I wouldn't drink Constant Compost and now I like it, so, you know, things change. I still call it Constant Compost, of course, because let's face it, "rind of oranges" is compost.

I like black teas, green teas, and white teas. I don't like flavored teas, especially fruit flavored tea which, if it were colder and thicker, would be appropriate to spread on toast. I don't drink tisanes, which are herbal infusions that contain no tea, (Or as I like to call them: boiled weed water. Heck, "tisane" is from an Old French term for barley water - what does that tell you?) so most of the Celestial Seasons catalogue is absent from my tea cabinet. Rooibos, or "red tea" is not tea. Tea is Camellia sinensis, Rooibos is aspalathus linearis - see how they aren't the same thing?

* * * * *

But the best tea news of the day is that thanks to some unflinching scientists who were willing to go the distance in pursuit of hard knowledge over casual cliché , Carol, Chris, and I will be spared the mistake of using the Chocolate Teapot.

17 October 2005

TTFN, Paul

Good grief. I thought I posted this 10 days ago, but Blogger thought it was still a draft. Perhaps Blogger knows better than I do...

* * * * *

Paul at The Sun Keeps Rising was my first and best "next blog" click. I found him very shortly after I started writing and I left my first comment about a week later. Oddly enough, that comment is sandwiched between a comment from his Mom and his Step-Dad, both of whom I now read. (Actually, I read most of the folks on his blogroll.)

David likes to tease me by assigning nicknames to the people I talk about a lot - "your boyfriend," "your crush," etc. Paul was "your penpal." When I demurred, he said "Check Paul's blogroll. Is there anyone on it who he doesn't know personally besides you?" Well, no actually, at the time there wasn't. Which I found completely flattering and it improved my day for at least a week.

I was once at Starbucks and a young lady at the next table was talking to a friend and to her Mom about starting as an RA and what that would entail. She left the Starbucks with Paul's url scribbled on a scrap of paper from my purse. ("There's this guy I read who's an RA in Wyoming....").

Paul is going to start student teaching and students these days are very apt to Google their teachers. Shauna shut down her blog after she got Googled by parents who didn't like that she was writing about her job and, therefore, her students. And Shauna is quite possibly the most postive human being ever. So you can imagine that having a blog and teaching can be, shall we say, incompatible.

But, dammit, I'm really, really, really going to miss reading The Sun Keeps Rising. Fortunately, Paul has my e-mail address and I have his, so it's not like when a favorite tv show goes off the air and all one has are the re-runs. (Actually, I won't even have the re-runs. When he deletes the blog, it'll be completely gone. Blogger is pretty thorough that way.)

And so, like a clip from a favorite episode, here for my nostalgic pleasure is the first exchange via comments that I had with Paul. The scene: He had written (and I quote) " (someone ask me why "Birth of a Nation" was the most damaging film ever made, even ahead of Nazi propaganda. Go ahead, ask me). " So, in my snarky little way, I wrote: Yes, why is that? Especially as I always thought that "Flashdance" was the most damaging movie in all history. (Snarkiness aside, I saw "Birth of a Nation" in school when I was in junior high, although I don't remember why.)

So Paul wrote a nice, long, intelligent, irate post about Birth of a Nation during which he accidently used the interesting constuction "thiefs." Here's his opening paragraph, which changed forever how I refer to Leonardo DeCaprio, and the comments exchanged between us. Just because both still make me laugh.

Okay, Dearest Readership, I agree that "Flashdance" is pretty bad, though if pressed I'd rank the 1996 godforsaken pile of shit version of "Romeo and Juliet" starring Clare Danes and Leonardo Di-Crap-io right up there. Only movie I've
ever walked out of.

Leta said...
Okay, I am forced as a former English major and current pedant to do this, so I apologize. Thiefs?

I stumbled across your blog when I was mousing around and really enjoy reading what you have to say. Count me among your readership.L.
6:49 AM

Paul said...
Ya got me. I thought I remembered scenes depicting theivery; I could be making that up. I have a fairly active imagination.

Anyhoo, I edited it out. P
7:53 AM

Paul said...
*thievery, not theivery.

7:54 AM

Paul said...

It just occurred to me that you might have been questioning my spelling of "thief" in the plural, not whether they existed in the film.Ugh.

12:26 PM

Leta said...
Well, yes, it really was just the spelling. On the plus side, the name "Leonardo Di-Crap-io" is going to amuse me for the rest of the day and your points on "Birth of a Nation" are well taken.Have a stress free weekend......L

And speaking of eBay

If anyone still has a working link for the best eBay auction ever - the one where the guy was selling his ex-wife's wedding dress and he modeled it himself - please, please send it to me.

American 15, French 45

I really must spend more time on eBay. And I really must not bid on this auction.

Thanks to Siobhan.

13 October 2005

My very own Mondegreen

When my sister and I were about 5 and 8, respectively, we were staying at my grandmother's in Ohio. Gram decided that we should learn another night-time prayer besides "Now I lay me down to sleep," so she taught us both "The Lord's Prayer." So far, so good, until the night that Sara refused to say it because "We're only praying for Leta."

Puzzled, Gram asked her what she meant. "It talks about Leta and not about me!"


"The part where it says 'And Leta's not in temptation.' Why doesn't it say 'Sara's not in temptation?" Why am I left out?"

So everytime I say that prayer in church, I always say "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and Leta's not in temptation..." I would like to say that I do it that way as an homage to my sister, but really, it's just a little joke that Lord and I have. Especially as I am so very frequently in temptation.

Temptation, oh, temptation!
Were we, I pray, intended
To shun whate'er our station,
your fascination splendid?
Of fall whene'er we view you?
Head o'er heels into you?
Head o'er heels, head o'er heels,
Head o'er heels into you?

(W.S. Gilbert, The Yeomen of the Guard)

11 October 2005

Yet another use for Google

As a tired phrase meter.

Type in a short phrase and if there are more than 5 pages of results returned, you've got a cliche on your hands.

07 October 2005

I'll have what he's having

Robert Siegel on NPR today interviewed Charles Martell regarding having his cheese - Stinking Bishop - mentioned in the new Wallace and Gromit movie.

Wow. Charles Martel.

It may be a smelly cheese, but if it can grant nearly eternal life, I'm having some.

Sure, he's had to stay under the radar - he's added an "l" to Martel, moved to Gloucestershire, and lost his accent, but in an obvious nod to history geeks everywhere, he kept the name that he's carried all these centuries.

Forget the Stilton, pass the Stinking Bishop.

06 October 2005

Lady Mondegreen

It's probably just me. Maybe it's because I spend too much time these shuttling between Aspen Hill and Herndon. Okay, it's not that, because I've always heard it this way. Even when I had never heard of a certain theater company.

Most mondegreens, I can shake once I learn the real lyric. Like in REM's "End of the World as We Know It," I now hear Time I had some time alone, not, oh, Time I had some Tylenol. And in Peter Gabriel's "Games Without Frontiers," it's definitely Jeux sans frontieres, not She's so funky now. (In the interests of full disclosure, these are not my actual mondegreens, but the real lyrics have imprinted on me to the degree that I can no longer remember my actual mondegreens.)

The exception is REM's "Man on the Moon." Just to review, the real lyric is: Hey, Andy, are you goofing on Elvis? Hey baby, are we losing touch? But, even now,years after learning the real lyric, when that song comes on the radio, my brain will only supply me with Hey Andy, are you goofing on Elden Street....

I've decided to accept it and sing it that way. REM will never hear me, so they don't care. And the folks at the Elden Street Players will probably never hear me and they already think I'm weird, so it's not like it going to hurt my reputation with them or anything.

05 October 2005

Life Less Ordinary

"Life Less Ordinary" by Carbon Leaf is my favorite song right now. I look for it on the radio, pecking at the tuning buttons like some kind of hypnotized chicken until I (all too rarely) find it. I like the whole song, but that parts that caught my attention were these lyrics:

The night you came into my life
Well it took the bones of me, took the bones of me
You blew away my storm and strife
And shook the bones of me, shook the bones of me.
By the way, I do know why you stayed away
I will keep tongue-tied but...

Honey understand, honey understand
I won't make demands
Honey understand, honey understand
We could walk without a plan.

The first is just a really spiffy lyric. The second is a paraphrase of something I've said to more than one person: "We're grown ups. We can have any kind of friendship we want." People get too tied up with expectations - we should be more willing to walk without a plan. Someone I used to know told me that a relationship is a process, not a thing. When I am my better self I remember that.

So, just for me, and because of the people they remind me of, here are the entire lyrics.

Live a life less ordinary
Live a life extraordinary with me
Live a life less sedentary
Live a life evolutionary with me

Well I hate to be a bother,
But it's you and there's no other, I do believe
You can call me naive but...
I know me very well (at least as far as I can tell)
And I know what I need

The night you came into my life
Well it took the bones of me, took the bones of me
You blew away my storm and strife
And shook the bones of me, shook the bones of me
By the way, I do know why you stayed away...
I will keep tongue-tied next time

Live a life less ordinary
Live a life extraordinary with me
My face had said too much
Before our hands could even touch
To greet a 'hello'(So much for going slow...)
A little later on that year
I told you that I loved you dear
What do you know?
This you weren't prepared to hear
I'm a saddened man, I'm a broken boy
I'm a toddler with a complex toy
I've fallen apart, since the ambush of your heart

The night you came into my life
Well it took the bones of me, took the bones of me
You blew away my storm and strife
And shook the bones of me, shook the bones of me.
By the way, I do know why you stayed away
I will keep tongue-tied but...

Honey understand, honey understand
I won't make demands
Honey understand, honey understand
We could walk without a plan.
Honey understand (honey), honey understand
I won't rest in stone all alone
Honey understand, honey understand
I'm all ready to go
But you already know...

Live a life less ordinary
Live a life extraordinary with me.
If I could name you in this song
Would it make you smile and sing along?
This is the goal: to get into your soul
If I could make you dance for joy
Could that be the second-chance decoy?
The bird-in-hand I would need
To help you understand?

The night you came into my life
well it took the bones of me, took the bones of me
You blew away my storm and strife
And shook the bones of me, shook the bones of me
By the way, I do know why you stayed away
I will keep tongue-tied next time

04 October 2005

I crack me up.

Like most extroverts (and most egomaniacs) I like to make people laugh. Of course, the best is when I can make David laugh. And the double-plus good is when I can make him laugh so hard that he has to hold the phone away a bit while he does that Alan Alda-y big laugh that I like so much. I got one (bordering on two) of those tonight, which reminded me of some other things that made people laugh recently. Here they are in no particular order.

1. Talking to Jill today about the newsletter which has some formatting stuff that used to drive her crazy and now drives me crazy, I said "Yeah, well, as we Episcopalians like to say, Oy."

2. Talking to David about almost mentioning this blog to someone higher up the food chain at work, I said that when Mike told me that next year he's taking his vacation during year-end just to avoid Year-End Madness, I nearly said "Yeah, I posted about that on my blog," but I caught myself in time and said "Yeah, I told some people ---" David was really amused at the euphemism "some people" as a subsitute for "anyone on the internet."

3. David was explaining to me that there are several colorful metaphors for the need to pee first thing in the morning and the effect that this has on men. A moment's thought would have made it obvious that of course there are colorful metaphors for that. Anything involving that particular piece of anatomy is going to involve colorful metaphors. Heck, that piece of anatomy probably generates more CM than it does carbon-based off-spring. Anyway, as I say, David mentioned one or two of them. So I asked if when we buy our huge estate we could call it "Morningwood." And then he barked with laughter while holding the phone away for a bit. Ahhh. Life is good.

Yeah, okay, not the last word in comedy, but they made people laugh. So -- I'm here all week, folks, and let's be good to the waitstaff.

03 October 2005

And, boy, am I flattered

Any show, any role, any time, any place -- An actor I know speaking of a director I know.

I got the best compliment of my directorial career when I was casting The Emperor's New Clothes ("Finally Including Nudity in the Children's Theater!"). Amy, who has worked with me in 21 Pairs of Sneakers and HMS Pinafore drove down from Columbia, Maryland to Herndon, Virginia to audition for me. This is about 100 miles round-trip and includes the always-interesting-and-not-in-a-good-way-beltway and the you-(literally)-pays-your-money-you-takes-your-chances-Dulles Toll Road. For an unpaid show for children that lasts about an hour. And Amy gets up before 5:00 am, so the trip home from rehearsal would feel very late at night to her.

We were taking a short break and Amy and I were chatting. Or rather, I was chatting. Amy was obviously contemplating how crazy she would have to be to agree to do the show. So I let her off the hook. We'll work together another time, but I'm going to stay flattered forever that she made that drive - and actually considered doing the show - just because she likes working with me.

Wow. I mean, like, --- wow.

Happy New Year!

My company "celebrated" year end on Friday and some of us in the Contracts/Finanace area are sending "Happy New Year" greetings to each other today.

And, of course, tonight at Sundown begins Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

In both cases the books are closed on the old year and a new year is begun. Time to finish up, to reflect, to cast out. Save the good, discard the bad. (Is it a coincidence that the festival of Discardia finishes today? I think not.) Time to take on better ways, better choices -- a fresh, clean start.

Apples and honey and clean, new file folders to all!

L'shanah tovah.

(Next week from Ask an Episcopalian - "What is Yum Kippur and should I wish my Jewish friends a Happy Day of Atonement?")

30 September 2005


I work in an office. I play in theaters. And yet there is common ground:

An interview is like an audition;

A second interview is like a callback;

A CFO is like a producer;

and -- most importantly, at least in the use of colorful metaphors by normally mild-mannered people -- Year End is just like Tech Week.

27 September 2005

Original Celebrated and Curiously Ginger

I was at Target the other day picking up some of life's little necessaries when I found a new-to-me flavor of Altoids. Yep, those wily Brits have introduced Ginger Altoids. There's even a bit of ginger root and ginger flower (zingiber officinale) posing on the cover. Of course, the sketch of the ginger root looks rather like Ernest Shepherd's illustration of Tigger from the original Winnie-the-Pooh books, but no matter.

I actually hate original Altoids, largely because I hate strong mint flavors which hang around long enough to affect every sip of tea or water for the rest of the day, so I pretty much avoid Altoids, but ginger ones! Well, I had to try the ginger ones.

You know, they're pretty good. Ginger is one of those flavors that is good either strong or mild and the Altoid is like a little, teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy, beige, chalky, ginger snap. And as the gluten-free ginger snaps I tried recently were neither very gingery nor very snappy, this may be as close as I come for a while to ginger snapping goodness.

And, just by the way, here Ginger Reed does not sound like a stripper's name.

22 September 2005

A little heads-up

Said by me at last night's blocking rehearsal for The Emperor's New Clothes:

"Ohh, I feel an anecdote coming on."

So at least now my cast will know what to expect from me. I'm just afraid that they'll expect a similar "time for a quickie mental nap while Leta rambles" indicator and it's not likely that they'll always gets one.

21 September 2005

Men who bird and the women who love them

Tanya was out today so we had a temp named Linda. Unlike some of our temps, Linda had the foresight to bring a book. (I say this as someone who spent a couple of years temping and know what it is. To not bring a book is to risk spending the day reading the company's previous annual report. Possibly more than once.)

I asked Linda what she was reading, expecting it to be a mystery or something equally light and interruption-friendly. Conceive of my surprise when she showed me that it was Pete Dunne On Birding. So I asked if she's a birder and she told me that her boyfriend is a birder. Hmmmm. Well, we were as Ruth and Naomi after that, comparing how to us and our nearsighted eyes, all birds over 20 feet away (i.e., most of them) simply look like, well, birds. They have no decernible characteristics, like yellow bibs or blue bills or what-have-you. And how the females all look like brown birds with no discernible characteristics at all, really. And how our menfriends keep insisting that there is a difference between sparrows - House Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Office Ledge Sparrows, yeah, yeah, yeah.

She told me the funny story about how when she first began noticing birds there were a whole bunch of them in her yard and she excitedly woke her boyfriend to identify them because they could have been anything and they were ... robins. "You woke me up for robins?" So I told her about the time I was describing a Mourning Dove to David over the phone and refered to the bird's "teal green eye-liner."

Linda was able to add to her life list on a recent trip to Malawi. She said that it took her several months to get 30 or 40 birds here in the States, but that she added a 103 in Malawi. So I told her that David said that I'm good birding karma and how we saw a Barred Owl on a trip to Accokeek.

Conveniently for both of us, I still had in the car - and was able to copy for Linda - an article that David found for me when I pointed out that naming the birds after the male's characteristics seemed a trifle sexist, not to mention completely unhelpful when one is observing a female, say Red-Winged Blackbird, which is neither red-winged nor black. Hmpf.

The article, by Margaret Van de Pitte and entitled "The female is somewhat duller," makes my points at greater length and indignation than I did and the letters in reply were often more indignant still. Great fun. (Sample quote: "For example, how many obviously female birds have been featured on the cover of this magazine? Not many.")

Next time we need a temp, I'm going to ask that we request Linda because she and I have a real bond now.

17 September 2005


ALINE: Zorah is very good, and very clean, and honest, and quite, quite sober in her habits: and that is worth far more than beauty, dear Sir Marmaduke.

DR. DALY: Yes; beauty will fade and perish, but personal cleanliness is practically undying, for it can be renewed whenever it discovers symptoms of decay.

W.S. Gilbert, The Sorcerer

Dusting - like making beds - is one of those chores that are seemingly undone as fast as they are done. One can use Endust or Pledge and grab some of the dust, but so much of it ends up in the air and settles back as soon as one moves on to the next dusty object, like flushed birds settling back into a tree. But still I dust. Not very often and not as often as my grandmother would have thought appropriate, but I do dust. And a couple of times a year I gear up to dust the top floor of David's house. (Note: David's house is at all times and in all places tidier than mine. It's just dusty.)

I dislike dusting less than he does, so I gather up the supplies (because while he does not enjoy dusting, he is well equipped for it) - Endust, a feather duster, a cloth, and damp paper towels - and have at it. Some of the surfaces are easy - spray, wipe, and go - and others are filled with enough tchotchkes to make my little old lady St. Louis relatives proud. And I'm lazy enough that tchotchke land is given a thorough feather tornado which removes the dust from the knickknacks and puts it gleefully into the air. The areas around the electronics have grey felt shrouds that are so satisfying to remove. Look! Wood!

My mother is a member of the anti-dusting crowd, so I used to cluck at her and dust bits of her house. Of course, she also doesn't believe in bedmaking, so she's obviously morally lax. She once told me that the only two people in the world who cared if her bed was made were me and my grandmother. Probably true, but even so, an unmade bed looks like an unmade bed.

Bed making, dusting, dish washing, weed pulling - all of these are impermanent, but the payoff is the immediate satisfaction, which - like personal cleanliness - can be renewed whenever it discovers symptoms of decay. So this morning I have been dusting. I didn't get the entire top floor, but at least the bedroom would make my grandmother spectre happy.

And maybe knowing that David's house is not only tidier than mine but now less dusty than mine will encourage me to dust at home tomorrow.

Coming and going

An important rule of theater is that if you entrance is deep into Act IV (or what substitutes for Act IV in modern American theater, Act II short scene umpty-ump) then the memorableness of that entrance must be a square of the number of minutes it occurs after the Act II curtain. Michael Willis is currently appearing in "After Ashley" at Woolly Mammoth theater and in a show chock full of excellent performances, his was a real eye catcher. He strolled in complete with walking stick, Panama Hat, and savoir faire as though the late Truman Capote had never left us. Actually "strolled" doesn't really describe his locomation, which savored of a runway model wearing several times your annual salary on her back. As every other actor was doing the "I'm not on yet so you can't see me" approach, his lordly, well, mince would be too strong a word but I can't think of a better one, caught and held the eye.

Interestingly enough, he also got the best exit I've seen in quite a while several months ago during "Melissa Artic" when he got to bring to life the best stage direction in all of Shakespeare.

16 September 2005

Reason enough to see this play

The Rude Mechanicals (guess on whose work they concentrate?) sent the following plug to one of the local theater lists. It's enough warm the hearts of pedants everywhere.

Who says history has to be interesting? The Rude Mechanicals questionably present "The Life and Death of King John" on Friday and Saturday at 8PM, September 23rd, 24th, 30th, and 31st. By saving on the cost of printing "and October 1st", they are able to charge a mere $10 for admission. Another of Shakespeare's top forty plays guaranteed to transport you to Laurel High School's Seller's Cafetorium where the stifling heat, deafening air conditioning, excruciating chairs, and penultimate performance will simultaneously stupefy, mesmerize, paralyze, and euthanize you. Come see why this so seldom performed play is so seldom performed as it is so seldom performed so well.

"Bring a book!" - The Baltimore City Paper
The Sellers Theatre
Laurel High School
8000 Cherry Lane
Laurel, MD

09 September 2005

Ren Faire

"Hmmmm. Did you hear about that priest being murdered on Misbegot Bridge?"

Carrot looked shocked. "Not old Father Tubelcek? Really?"

Vimes stopped himself from asking: "You know him, then?" Because Carrot knew everyone. If Carrot were to be dropped into some dense tropical jungle it'd be "Hello, Mr. Runs-Swiftly-Through-The-Trees! Good morning, Mr. Talks-To-The-Forest, what a spendid blowpipe! And what a novel place for a feather!"

Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay.

McCall, Sara Joy, Mario, Paul, and I went to the Renaissance Festival on Monday. We did extremely important Ren Faire type stuff, like eat food that comes on a stick (you can actually get cheesecake on a stick at Ren Faire. No kidding.), watch Shakespeare Skum, run around looking all cute in our we-actually-have-these-in-our-closets-we're-that-geeky wenchy outfits, etc, etc. (Okay, technically, Mario and Paul did not dress out. And certainly not as wenches. Just wanted to clear that up.)

Anyway, so no shit, there we were, wandering around Ren Faire, when I started seeing folks I know. I used to do that all the time, but lately I haven't seen anyone I know at the Faire who isn't working the Faire, but this time I saw Chort & Paula, Graymael & Amanda, and Trevor & company.

But the best part, the part that made me think of Brett, the you-can-see-this-coming part, was when I was sitting and watching Shakespeare Skum. I glanced around and saw across a crowded crowd someone I was sure I recognized from ... my high school. Which would be odd because he lives in New York these days and, well, they have their own Ren Faire, so it's not like he needs to drive a couple hundred miles just to go to ours. But I kept staring and he kept looking like Dave-from-high-school. (Sigh. Of course his name is David. David is a root word that means "man." All men are named David. Even Graymael. Well, except the ones named John, like Chort and Hjalti. But that's not the point.)

So while we were waiting for Sara Joy and McCall to return from the necessary, I wandered over in his direction and with every step, he looked more like Dave-from-high-school. And when I got within range he saw me and recognized me. After thousands of years and everything. He's married now with a young daughter and they are in town visting his brother, who still lives in the area. We didn't have time to catch up more completely, but I gave him my e-mail address and phone number and with luck we'll talk more soon.

Are you going to Renaissance Faire?/Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme./Remember me to one who is there./For he is an old friend of mine....

Amazing Generosity

We are surrounded by the kind and the generous, but it really becomes apparent in time of crisis.

During the Rwandan Genocide, my step-Mom, Audrey, who is a nurse, joined a group called the International Rescue Committee and spent six months in Tanzania working with the refugees. I"ll write more about that some other time, but it's been 11 years since then and I am still amazed that she put her life here on hold for six months, packed up, and lived halfway across the world because she couldn't take watching the suffering on television without doing something to help.

The two things from that time that stick most in my mind were both from letters that I got from her. One arrived after she got the Christmas box that I sent, which contained things like a book (ever see the episode of M*A*S*H where someone got a book? That's how valuable books are in places like refugee camps), a small container of shower gel, some hard candies, and a pair of clean socks. Audrey wrote me a thank you letter and told me how much everything was appreciated and that she was "saving" the socks for when Dad came to meet her after her tour was over because the red clay in the soil got into everyone's clothes and wouldn't really wash out. I have a drawer full of clean white socks and get new clean white socks anytime I want with very little effort.

The other was when Audrey wrote and told me that it had been a good week because infant mortality was down 20% that week. Infant mortality is just not a part of my daily life. Burying babies is not something that I have to do. Every time I get a real good pity party started the back of my brain asks me how the infant mortality is going in my neighborhood. I'm amazingly lucky to live the life I do and I owe part of that sense of gratitude to Audrey's incredible generosity and character.

I think that Rosellen and Audrey would get along very well for reasons besides both being quilters, nurses, grandmothers, and gardners. Rosellen wrote a beautiful post about finding an unfinished quilt that her grandmother had started that I had to forward immediately to Audrey. Go read that post to see what she did with it. And then the two posts she's written since then.

Their generosity goes far beyond writing checks.

07 September 2005

A new book!

If I happen to be on my way home - or actually at home - at 11:00, I usually listen to "As It Happens," a news and events radio show from the CBC. As an American who lives in a busy metropolitan area, I can't get over AIH's tendency to sound like the Mayberry newspaper. They actually, literally, once spent 10 minutes interviewing someone whose cat was stuck in a tree and got rescued.

Listening to AIH reminds me of that George Carlin routine about the differences between football and baseball:

(Threatening growl) "In football you wear a helmet."
(Happy lighthearted voice) "In baseball you wear a cap."
(HLV) "Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - might have extra innings."
(TG) "Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death."

(TG) "In the US, you have congressional districts."
(HLV) "In Canada, you have ridings."

While in no way under-rating their professionalism or their jounalistic ability, AIH always struck me as a kinder, gentler form of radio news. So when the CBC started a lock out which put AIH on hiatus, I was sad. On the other hand, during the lock out (the CBC is referring to it as a strike and or a labor dispute, employees are calling it a lock out), the CBC is running a program called "Ideas" which basically spends an hour on whatever random topic the Magic 8 Ball chose for the day. We got to hear about ice cream the other night, I've heard a couple of shows about radical philosophers from small, poverty-striken island nations, and, best of all, I got to hear an hour on Edna St. Vincent Millay, who was - after Alma Mahler Gropius Werfel - probably the subject of the juiciest, spiciest, raciest obituary it will ever be anybody's pleasure to read.

At the beginning of the hour the only thing I knew about Ms. Millay was that she wrote "Justice Denied in Massachusetts" about the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti which contains the incredibly haunting line "We shall die in darkness, and be buried in the rain." At the end of the hour, I knew a lot more and was resolved to actually order Marion Meade's Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties.

It arrived today! I have auditions tonight (please come read for me), but as soon as I can, I'm zooming home to read about Ms. Millay, Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber, and Zelda Fitzgerald. I read bios of Sara & Gerald Murphy and Dorothy Parker recently and I actually recognize some of the people in the pictures in Bobbed Hair without having to read the captions.

A new book! A new book!

06 September 2005

Why David sometimes takes me to group events

David and I went on a little nature stroll with a naturalist from the Audobon Naturalist Society and about a dozen other people. I call it a "nature stroll" because if the point is to admire the flora and fauna, then you don't walk very fast or very far. In fact, I don't think that we actually really got out of sight of the parking area, but that's not the point.

So, anyway, we're admiring a Silky Dogwood and its lovely blue berries and Stephanie is teaching us about it Socratically (i.e., by asking questions). She tells us many cheerful facts about Silky Dogwood and points out that it is a member of the nightshade family* and asks, "so what would eat this?"

"Um, wealthy, elderly relatives?" said the girl who grew up reading mystery stories.

For a more grown-up, mature account of the day, see David's post on the subject.

*as are potatoes and eggplant.

She may live in her own little world, but it's a kind and thoughtful world

"Knock knock!"
"Who's there?"
"Control Freak. Now you say 'Control Freak who?' "

Okay, let's start this by saying that we tease Lisa a lot. To her face, behind her back, over the phone, via e-mail, on the internet - if there is a medium for expression, Lisa's friends have used it to make fun of her. And she's a very good sport about it (which is why we are all not dead and ground into a very fine powder). Mainly we tease her about being a little, teeny, tiny, you-wouldn't-even-notice-it-really bit of a control freak.

Like when she was pregnant and announced that the baby would be born on December 1, several days before his due date. Which Layne was because - as we put - he knew what was good for him.

Or like when she tells us something with perfect sincerity that, in fact, is completely untrue. And we just nod and smile. (A reaction that serves my friends as well as Lisa's very well.)

One time she said something that was so outrageous (I don't remember what) that I had to ask if the weather was always nice in her little world and without missing a beat (or getting crabby), she said that, yep, the skies are blue and the grass is green all the time. (At least it is if it knows what's good for it.)

So, anyway, I went down to Lake Ridge on Saturday evening to babysit Layne while Lisa was singing in VLOC's G&S By Request. (Layne is now nearly four and cute as a button. A really cute button, not just some run-of-the-mill button.) When I got there she had something in the oven and was puttering around getting ready to leave for the theater. When the oven dinged, she told me that she'd made a coffee cake and I could have some that evening and the rest had to leave with me because left over coffee cake is too much temptation. And I said "Oh, thank you, but I really can't have any." And then she showed me the package that said "Gluten Free!" all over it. Lisa doesn't normally shop at Whole Foods, so she went on the internet to find a gluten-free coffee cake mix because when she asked me what I missed the most on my new diet, I said coffee cake. She also got me cookies and a scone mix. She probably ordered them the day I agreed to watch Layne.

The coffee cake was actually pretty yummy. And I got to have some of the left over on Sunday morning, which made a nice treat before David and I went nature walking.

And she and husband Kerry and Layne are growing zucchini this year and she gave me this gye-normous zucchini to take home. I only have about two-thirds of it and I swear those two-thirds weigh a couple of pounds. And it's about 9 inches long and about 4 inches across.

I know the coolest people. I really do.

02 September 2005

This really happened, I swear

Ira and I were hanging out in the Starbucks on our way to one of his Tech Week rehearsals when we ran into Eve. We chatted for a bit and - as usual - Ira started making fun of me. (I am so put upon.) And Eve, bless her because this really, really improved my day, said "Hey! You can't talk to her like that! She's popular! People like her!"

Joking or not, it made my whole day.

So take that junior high school!!

My audition notice

I sent this to several theater-related e-mail lists in the area. Now I'm lighting candles that the Theater gods will send me lots of good auditionees.

I'm directing "The Emperor's New Clothes" for the Elden Street Players' Theater for Young Audiences. I need 5 or 6 people (men and women, ages 16 and up) for a fun hour-long show for kids.

Performances will be Saturdays at 11:00 am and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 from November 5 - 20.

Auditions are Tuesday and Wednesday, September 6 & 7 at 7:30 at The Town of Herndon's Industrial Strength Theater (269 Sunset Business Park Drive, Herndon, VA).

The benefits to doing shows for children:

* They are the most appreciative audience ever.

* The shows are short and fun.

* Chase scenes are aerobic.

* The rehearsal schedule is pretty light, too.

* No kid ever told a "lobby lie."

* No performances on Friday or Saturday nights, so you can (if you're me) go see other shows on those nights.

* It's a chance to grew the audience (and auditionees) of tomorrow.

* When kids ask for autographs, they aren't looking to sell them on eBay or being ironic.

* Herndon is a completely cool place to hang out. Okay, that may be a stretch.

* It's "The Emperor's New Clothes," so you can make up fun lies about doing nude shows for children.

* If you have a skill - like juggling or doing magic - that your other directors won't allow you to include when you do Chekov or Tennessee Williams, it can usually be worked into a children's show.

No need to learn a monologue, just show up in Herndon on Tuesday or Wednesday.

It'll be fun!



If dusting can count, so can this

I didn't think I got a lot of exercise until I realized that I exercise all the time. If one counts applauding as a little upper body/lower arm workout, then Leta the Constant Audience Member is good to go. What a relief; I was afraid that I was sedentary.

01 September 2005

Fill 'er up

I bought gas this morning on my way in to work for $2.85/gallon. Which makes this morning officially part of "the good old days" because every station I have passed since then is over 3.00 per. I must have caught the good folks at the Mobil before they raised their rates and I'm grateful. I'm also grateful that I drive a little car that can go 350-400 miles on a tank. And the folks in Europe have been paying over $4.00 per for some time now, so we're just catching up to everybody else.

On the other hand, my new hobby is laughing at the folks who decided that they needed Hummers to tool around the suburbs.

I'm going down to Woodbridge on Saturday where gas is usually pretty cheap. I'll report in on what constitutes "cheap" on Sunday.

31 August 2005

Humperdinck & Sullivan & Jones, oh my

Coincidence? Or a deliberate attempt to drive G&S fans randomly nuts? Now we know. I found this in an interview with Engelbert Humperdinck in the Palm Spring, California "Desert Sun":

QUESTION: I was surprised to read that Gordon Mills [Humperdinck's manager] didn't realize the original Engelbert Humperdinck wrote "Hansel and Gretel." He just saw the name in a book and decided it was the perfect name for you.

ANSWER: That's right. We both had no idea it was "Hansel and Gretel." He did that with two other people he managed. He did it with Tom Jones from the "Tom Jones" character, and he did it with Gilbert O'Sullivan. He managed all those people.

For all my non-opera readers, the original Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921) was the composer of an opera-for-children version of the famous fairy tale based on a libretto that his sister wrote for her children. The Regina Opera page devoted to Hansel and Gretel starts out with a "no, not that Engelbert Humperdinck" and Gilbert & Sullivan fans have had to do the Big Sigh and "no, no" ever since "Alone again, naturally" came out in 1972.

And now, of course, I have Carol Kane's voice stuck in my head saying "Humperdinck! Humperdinck!! Humperdinck!!!"

Mr. Mills has a lot to answer for.

30 August 2005


Here's an e-mail between me and my Dad:

I just talked to Bill and they are all OK. Some damage to Bay House and yard, tree limbs down at house in town, no air conditioning (I guess that really means power is out) but phone works.
Could have been worse by far!
Yore PoP
On Aug 30, 2005, at 2:38 PM, Leta wrote:
> Any news from Bill or Linda about how our Southern relatives are faring right now?

Bill and Linda are my uncle and aunt. And the Southern relatives are pretty much the whole rest of Dad's family. Dad grew up in Mobile, Alabama and I've visited there on several occasions so when the good folks on NPR talk about Route 10, well, I've been on it. I've gone wading in the Gulf (and I'll post the picture that Grandaddy took of me doing it if I can find it).

I've got relatives in Mobile, Atlanta, Norlens (or - if you insist - New Orleans), and a bunch of other places where bacon grease is a condiment and kudzu covers anything that doesn't move at least every twenty minutes. So the pictures are pretty scary. Dan Gretch just reported on Marketplace that Mobile is pretty hard hit - he saw a Winn-Dixie that was open even though it had half its roof missing.

Hang tough, Mobile.

The only good spam is Monty Python spam

Well, it's finally come down to it. I received nine pieces of comment spam during the last twenty minutes. And while I won't borrow too many practices from my medieval forebears, rest assured that during the benign and enlighted Leta regime, spammers will be roasted - slowly - in a cage - over an open fire for the amusement and edification of the populace.

Come on, admit it, you've gotten enough spam by now that you'd all turn out in droves on the day. I would and I'm both a squishy-headed liberal and anti-violence. But my work e-mail is so totally hosed that I get a new piece of spam every six minutes there. Every. Six. Minutes. I log into my work e-mail before I go to bed just to clear out what's arrived since I left the office. I was away from computer access for a week once and it took me an hour and a half to delete all the crap that built up while I was away.

However, That Glorious Day has not yet dawned and Blogger believes that I will get less comment spam if I turn on the word verification feature, which requires folks to type in a nonsense word in order to prove that they are actual human beings before their comments will post. So I've done that. Because I love getting comments and I hate getting comment spam.

But I'm collecting coals and lighter fluid for the Endless Spammer Bonfire. And I will not forget.

29 August 2005

Basil (not Fawlty) & Flowers

On my desk right now is a nice, big bunch of basil brought in by my co-worker John and a lovely vase full of flowers sent to me by David. My desk has never looked better. Or smelled nicer, for that matter.

At your service

David, for all of his fine qualities, is simply too damned self-sufficient. In general, he does favors for me and there aren't many that I can do for him in return. Well, the favor-returning gods have finally smiled on me.

David's Explorer (Alberta) has developed what he and I believe to a mild case of vapor-lock. If he starts Alberta in the morning and drives to work, she is happy to start right up when he leaves in the evening. If, however, he drives to some section of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail and leaves Alberta there for a couple of hours, she sometimes becomes, like the wizards and the butts in the urinals, cranky and hard to light. So a few of his hikes have had "waiting for the guy from AAA" as their finale. His mechanic couldn't seem to reproduce the problem and mechanics can't fix what they don't observe, so he and I have been waiting for the inevitable day when Alberta would become obdurate when he needed to be somewhere or when he wasn't convenient to home.

Thursday was the day.

I was down in Tysons Corner (Virginia) having dinner and a production meeting with Mary Ann, who is my producer at Elden Street for The Emporer's New Clothes (auditions September 6 & 7 - please come and read for me!!) - when I got a call from David. Sure enough, he had stopped at Panera for a quick dinner before his rehearsal and Alberta chose not to start. He walked the mile or so to rehearsal and called me to ask if he got a lift from someone at rehearsal to my place, could he stay with me and Metro to work in the morning?

Sure, but as I was out and about anyway, how about if I come to his rehearsal after my meeting and collect him, stop by my place to feed the cat, and we would stay in Reston so that each of us could get to work in a reasonable amount of time in the morning? (The commute via Metro or car between Aspen Hill, Maryland and Vienna, Virginia is beyond icky. The commute via car between Reston, Virginia and Silver Spring, Maryland isn't too bad.)

So I got to see a bit of one of the early-ish off-book rehearsals for Book of Days, got to hang with Casey for a few minutes, and got to hear the whole "how we got engaged story" from a couple of David's other castmates.

David started mapping out his options, re: Alberta, and I signed on to be his chauffeur for the weekend, should he like to have one.

He bused into to work and home on Friday. Saturday after he went to the studio, I met him at the Shady Grove metro and took him to Alberta. She started right up, of course, so we drove to his house and parked her out front, stopped for a quick lunch and then I took him to his Tai Chi class. After Tai Chi we stopped for a slightly less quick dinner and then we went to see Longacre Lea's production of Energumen and The Real Inspector Hound. Neither one of us and seen Inspector Hound in years and years and this production didn't let us down. It's an enormously fun script.

Sunday we headed up to the Stage to see the second weekend of the One-Act festival, hit the grocery store for salad makings (and ice cream for me), and headed home for a nice, relaxing evening of a Gunsmoke radio broadcast and the Phillies-Diamondbacks matchup at the BOB.

Of course, before we did the grocery store/dinner/game thing, we stopped by the WOD Trail, I put on my trainers, and we did a brisk-for-me, slow-for-David two miles. Got to see a hummingbird and a goldfinch, some crows, and, uh, other birds. The Jewelweed is in fine shape this year as well as the Poke Weed and the Joe Pye weed. I suggested that Joe Pye weed was named by someone familiar with the Ann of Green Gables books, but that remains mere speculation.

All in all, a lovely weekend and I got to do something nice for David.

For instructions on how to induce vapor-lock in an otherwise healthy vehicle, write to me privately......