31 December 2007

Me - in a nutshell

From an e-mail to a friend:

So today is my birthday (which I am still childish enough to find exciting). I like to say that there's always a party on my birthday, it's just rarely actually *for me.*

And next Sunday I'll be at Todd and Hilary's in the morning for WATCH stuff (which I am still geeky enough to find exciting).

Pretty much tells you all you need to know. The rest is commentary.

26 December 2007


And we return to our program already in progress...

So at the Boxing Day Party today at the lovely Brett and Cate's Chort got to declare something as fact (in good faith, yeah, yeah, whatever) only to have it shown to be false within mere seconds. Naturally, we (okay, me, whatever) began to tease him about, you know, lying to us (even though he didn't, okay, fine).

Anyway, I pointed out that when I'm wrong about something I at least get to live with my delusion for longer than a heartbeat or two before I get corrected.

"Unless I'm around," David said.

"Yeah... (sigh) That's our relationship so far: a seven-year long teachable moment."

Had he only been sipping something at the moment my holiday would have been near to perfect.

21 December 2007

Saving myself a bunch of die rolls

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Bard (5th Level)

Ability Scores:







Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because because it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Bards often serve as negotiators, messengers, scouts, and spies. They love to accompany heroes (and villains) to witness heroic (or villainous) deeds firsthand, since a bard who can tell a story from personal experience earns renown among his fellows. A bard casts arcane spells without any advance preparation, much like a sorcerer. Bards also share some specialized skills with rogues, and their knowledge of item lore is nearly unmatched. A high Charisma score allows a bard to cast high-level spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail).

Acquired via Flirtin' John.

20 December 2007

An amazing scientific observation

Why is it that although I spend most of the day trekking to the kitchen for another cup of tea, every time I pick up my tea cup, it's empty? And why is that this is only true at work?

Why is it that David has spent the last seven years busing two-thirds full cups of cold tea that I have left scattered all over his house when, in fact, a nice hot cup of tea is my primary fuel? Especially as when he made me those cups of tea I was seconds away from total prostration from lack of tea?

Clearly, tea molecules move through space and time, shifting themselves from my desk here at work to David's house. They lose heat, of course, as they do this, but - as we learn in Arcadia - the universe's major occupation is heat dissipation.

My first Christmas Gift for 2007

Dad and Audrey have given an elephant! Or, a share of their elephant.

His name is Zurura and he comes to me (even as he stays in Africa) via The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust*, an organization that Audrey and Dad have supported ever since they learned about it.

I will get lovely watercolors of Zurura and Zurura will get to grow up healthy, cared for, and loved. As I did. And two of the people who ensured that I did gifted me with my own elephant.

Every year I look around my already full apartment and realize that I don't really need anything else. At the same time, I am greedy and love presents. So I have never really said officially "If you would like to give me a gift, please donate to an organization that helps those less fortunate than I am. I am already incredibly lucky to have the friends and family that I do, to life safe and warm, to have food - gluten-free food even! - and hobbies that I enjoy, a cat who behaves like he loves me, and so many more blessings than I can count." Especially as my friends and family pick out really good gifts that I didn't realize I needed until I owned them.

So while it isn't official yet and I'm never rejecting the lovely gifts that people give me (presents!!), I am delighted to receive my first member of what I'm calling Leta's family menagerie. Hoping to give me something something but can't think of what?

Well, here's my wish list.

And if you were considering messing with me in the future? Well, just remember that I have an elephant. And you don't.

*Of course, it's the David Sheldrick trust. Of course it is. The David Regime is subtle but implacable. Learn to enjoy being named David, all you men out there. Resistance is useless.

How to Talk Shop

Even engineers and accounts can have a sense of history.

My co-worker (upon receipt of a particular work request): Looks like [company we acquired] is being integrated into our contracting process.

Me: Yup. It's all part of our World Domination Plan. We're sort of like the mid-period Roman empire.

Co-Worker: So in about 300 years, we will fall to the barbarians. Note: sell stock before that happens.

Me: Exactly!! You can time it by the amount and types of treasure that our armies send in from the far-flung reaches of our lands.

17 December 2007

How about one with the Disney Princesses? Or Hello, Kitty?

My cousin and I were discussing Tasers over the Thanksgiving holiday, but it never occurred to me that I'd especially want one if it came in pink. Sort of reminds me of Nancy Reagan's ladylike little pearl-handled pistol.

Hmmm. Maybe I do need a Taser. Look how cute and friendly it is now!


I read today that Dan Fogelberg died yesterday from cancer. I wasn't a big fan of "Same Auld Lang Syne," but I was always rather fond of "Longer" which is just a sweet, pretty little love song. I haven't heard it for years and years and may be the only person I know who remembers it, so here it is in Mr. Fogelberg's honor.

Longer by Dan Fogelberg

Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there've been stars up in the heavens
Ive been in love with you.

Stronger than any mountain cathedral
Truer than any tree ever grew
Deeper than any forest primeval
I am in love with you.

I'll bring fires in the winters
You'll send showers in the springs
Well fly through the falls and summers
With love on our wings.

Through the years as the fire starts to mellow
Burning lines in the book of our lives
Though the binding cracks and the pages start to yellow
Ill be in love with you.

Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there've been stars up in the heavens
I've been in love with you
I am in love with you.

11 December 2007

After great pain, a formal feeling comes

Sally and I attended the Emily Dickinson lecture at the Folger last night (and rounded out our east coast liberal experience by having wine and cheese after) and the hand-out, on nice 65-pound stock, was this.

After great pain, a formal feeling comes--
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs--
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
The Feet, mechanical, go round--
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought--
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone--
This is the Hour of Lead--
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons recollect the Snow--

First--Chill--then Stupor--then the letting go--

Emily Dickinson (1862)

10 December 2007

Hershey's Cherry Cordial Creme Kisses

Because the nutrion facts are readily available on Hershey's website, but the ingredients list isn't.

And the ingredients are (drumroll here):

Milk chocolate (sugar, milk, cocoa butter, chocolate nonfat milk, soy lethicin, Pgpr. emulsifier, vanillin, artificial flavor), sugar, corn syrup, sorbitol, high-frustose corn syrup*, contains 2% or less of: potasssium sorbate (preservative), invertase, artificial flavor, citric acid, artificial color (yellow 6, red 40).

Really - they're much yummier than the above would lead one to believe.

*now that's a surprise, she typed sarcastically

The Office Party

My office had our annual holiday get-together on Saturday evening, so David and I put on our white gloves and party manners and went.

Our office manager made sure that the Italian restaurant had an entree that I could have (thank you, thank you) and there was enough room to be convivial which is not a small consideration for an office our size.

I actually wore this same dress to the first party I went to back in '99 when I started here. Weight has been gained, weight has been lost, and the dress fits again. So I guess I should party like it's 1999.

At last we have something in common

Besides having the same relatives, that is.

Sara was a Scorpio and I am Capricorn,* but thanks to Oroscopo Degli Insetti, I am now a Scorpione as well!

Mind you, it's still a much better description of Sara than of me but I'll take what I can get.

Nati dal 4 dicembre al 31 dicembre

Qualità: tenacia e perseveranza
Difetti: cocciutaggine
Stagione: inverno
Pianeta zodiacale: marte
Colore: giallo
Habitat: zone aride, fessure nelle rocce e nei vecchi muri

Carta d'identità

Animale predatore carnivoro; conduce vita notturna. L'ultimo segmento della sua coda è armato con un aculeo contenente un potente veleno.

Modulo comportamentale

Lo scorpione è viviparo e l'accoppiamento è preceduto da una danza nuziale dove i partner si afferrano per le chele. La femmina appena fecondata uccide e divora il maschio.


Il tipo scorpione è molto intelligente, tenace, geloso e possessivo; egli è dominato da una forte istintualità. Accumula esperienze diverse che riflettono la sua fertile fantasia e la sua natura curiosa. Partecipa con passione a tutte le sue avventure soprattutto quelle amorose. La ricerca del piacere è l'elemento predominante della sua vita.


Lo scorpione simboleggia la vendetta.

Modo di affrontare la vita

L'individuo scorpione cerca il rischio come stimolo e come banco di prova per il suo coraggio.

L'uomo scorpione esercita un fascino magnetico e provocante.

La donna scorpione ha una sensualità prorompente che le permette di assumere un ruolo da protagonista.

Scorpione nei sogni vederlo: guardati dai nemici ed evita la vendetta.
Essere punto: corri un grave pericolo. paura e disgusto.

Of course, it's about as much like me as the traditional descriptions of Capricorns as well, but that's pretty much how it goes for astrology anyway.

Now this is much more like me, because let's face it, you don't even have to speak Italian to connect me with volubilità. I'll try to work on the incostanza thing.


Nati dal 10 maggio al 4 giugno

Qualità: ottimismo
Difetti: volubilità e capriccio
Stagione: primavera
Pianeta zodiacale: venere
Colore: rosso scarlato
Habitat: tutti i paesi (escluso le zone artiche) e tutti i climi

Carta d'identità

Le farfalle sono lepidotteri con quattro ali membranose di diverse colorazioni, caratterizzate da un particolare apparato boccale a proboscide che serve loro per succhiare il nettare dai fiori. Vi sono vari esemplari di farfalle; alcuni di questi conducono una vita diurna, altri crepuscolare e altri notturna. Questi insetti sono molto utili al mondo vegetale in quanto favoriscono l'impollinazione delle piante, viaggiando da un fiore all'altro. Gli esemplari che più conosciamo e che vediamo svolazzare nei campi, sembrano tanti piccoli gioielli con colori che variano dal rosso, all'arancione, al giallo al blu.

Modulo comportamentale

Le farfalle sono insetti a sessi distinti. Le femmine emanano un forte segnale chimico che richiama i maschi, i quali, a loro volta, emettono un particolare odore nel periodo degli accoppiamenti. Tra le varie specie, le farfalle monarca, in autunno, migrano da nord per svernare a sud percorrendo rotte precise guidate da un infallibile istinto collettivo, ereditato dalle precedenti generazioni. Esse riescono a percorrere circa 15.000 km per andare a deporre le uova sulle foglie delle piante dei loro luoghi di riproduzione.


La tipologia farfalla è caratterizzata da individui solari, gioiosi e ottimisti. Essi sanno sempre dare al prossimo un adeguato conforto con parole e manifestazioni affettuose che non possono fare a meno di suscitare una reazione positiva e fare apparire il sorriso la dove c'è ne bisogno. Il loro atteggiamento spesso viene confuso con la superficialità e la svogliatezza; in realtà tutti dovrebbero prendere esempio da questo comportamento dando così spazio all'ottimismo e alla gioia di vivere. L'individuo farfalla è molto sensuale e il suo desiderio di formare una coppia è legato all'intima pulsione di diventare genitore.


La tradizione occidentale associa simbolicamente alla farfalla la leggerezza e l'incostanza. Invece in Oriente il colorato insetto rappresenta la femminilità e una coppia di farfalle viene considerata l'emblema della felicità coniugale.

Modo di affrontare la vita

L'uomo farfalla è un instancabile corteggiatore, ma è incostante negli affetti.

La donna farfalla è caratterialmente una persona molto aperta, quindi è sempre circondata da amici e da attenzioni.

Farfalla nei sogni Vederla : annuncia una visita importanteinseguirla e catturarla: avrai un amore improvviso, ma di poca durata

And a wiggle of the antenna to Bug Girl whence I got it.

*December 31. Cards, flowers, gifts now cheerfully being accepted.

09 December 2007

Seven Long Years

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!

Ice Cream by Sarah McLachlan

Your love is better than ice cream
Better than anything else that Ive tried
And your love is better than ice cream
Everyone here knows how to fight

And its a long way down
Its a long way down
Its a long way down to the place
Where we started from

Your love is better than chocolate
Better than anything else that Ive tried
Oh love is better than chocolate
Everyone here knows how to cry

Its a long way down
Its a long way down
Its a long way down to the place
Where we started from...

07 December 2007

When you are away

I stumbled across this on the way of cats via the site for National Blog Posting Month.* And while I'm not so sure that these suggestions necessarily apply to Pekoe, they do seem to apply to me.

Well, mostly. I really have no desire to smell your luggage. None at all.

Of course, I am XX, so I really like wearing clothes belonging to my male friends. Sleeping in a guy's sweatshirt? Bliss. Happy were the days when I could fit into Chort's jeans. Also long gone, alas.

But that last paragraph? About being low maintenance but not no maintenance? That could have been written about me.

When We Are Away

When we have to be away for a while, from a short overnight trip to a long vacation, we might wonder if the cat will miss us.

Yes, they will.

This is where the cat's excellent sense of time and grasp of routine works against them. They know we are supposed to be home, and we are not. Being cats, they are going to think the worst.

Whatever plans we make to take care of their needs while we are gone, we should try to make them as reassured as possible.


* Talk about the fact that we are going away, but we will be back. This will alert them that a change is coming, and we know about it, and are thinking of them.
* Discuss the changes to the routine that will occur while we are gone. If we are getting a pet sitter, have them come over and be introduced. Involve the cat in the preparations.
* I use visual aids when I'll be away. I let them smell the suitcases and watch me pack. I explain I can't take them with me. When I was away for a week, I held Mr. Bond up to the calendar, and showed him, with his paw, that I'd be gone this day and this day and this day, but This Day, I'd be back.


* If we can, call home and let the cat listen to our voice on the phone. At least they will know we still exist, somewhere. We can leave a message for them on the answering machine.
* Wear an old shirt which we don't wash before we leave. Put it on the cat's favorite sleeping area so we have a presence at home.
* Keep a soft toy in reserve which we have rubbed on our hair and the nape of our neck. Have the caretaker present it to the cat at some point and tell them we'll be home soon.


* The cat may greet us joyously when we reappear. Or, they may not. We might get the turned back so we know they were hurt by our absence. Mr. Bond has been known to keep this up for almost ten minutes.
* A cat like Puffy has a different reaction. He bounces over to get in my lap, and then he remembers I was gone. But I'm here now, so he gets over it quickly.
* Of course we are glad to see them, no matter how they react at first. Let them know we missed them and hated to be away.

Don't be fooled by the cat's low maintenance reputation. This only makes it easy to take care of their physical needs. Their emotional needs are deep and lasting, and not as easy to address, even with a temporary caregiver they know and like. If we do our best to let them know we also missed them while we are away, it gives them a pattern that will reassure them the next time.

We want to come back, and we will.

*I did okay. I posted more than 30 times during November but missed two days, once because my dsl was out. Overall, however, I was pleased as I use NaBloPoMo to apply some external discipline to posting. Otherwise, I would have to send myself e-mails with "Dude. Update." as the subject.

Oscar and Pete

By Oscar Hammerstein II, from The Sound of Music (1959)

Sixteen Going on Seventeen

A bell is no bell 'til you ring it
A song is no song 'til you sing it
And love in your heart wasn't put there to stay
Love isn't love... 'Til you give it away

By Pete Townshend, from The Who's Who's Next (1971)

Love Ain't for Keeping

Layin' on my back
In the newly mown grass
Rain is coming down
But I know the clouds will pass
You bring me tea
Say "the babe's a-sleepin'"
Lay down beside me
Love ain't for keeping

05 December 2007

At least it is today

Winter is Icumen In

From "Ancient Music" by American Poet, Ezra Pound (Lustra collection, 1913-1915)

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damm you; Sing: Goddamm.

Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing goddamm,
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

Come dancing

Define worth dancing to...

The theme to "Speed Racer" or "Linus and Lucy";
The choral section of the 9th Symphony; and
prett' near anything up-tempo with a good, strong beat.

What about dancing for...?

"Worth dancing for" is so much easier: Weddings, babies, joy, and love.

(From a recent e-mail with a friend, his questions, my answers)

None of those pieces of music got played but I still went dancing Sunday night. I know - many of you just re-read that first sentence and thought "Odd, I didn't hear anything on the news about widespread destruction and panic." Maybe it made the later editions.

The way that I ended up dancing was easy - Greykell (yes, the Greykell!) and I went to see The Foreigner that afternoon and we were hanging out at her place afterwards. She asked what I was doing later and I said that if I was smart, I'd go home and highlight the rest of my lines for Arcadia.

Did I want to go Oella Dancing instead? I didn't know for sure what "Oella Dancing" was but Grey's not the loud, hot, crowded club type any more than I am, so I knew that it wouldn't be that. And Grey and I know several people who ballroom dance, so there was a good chance that Oella Dancing would involve some or all of them.

I dithered for a little bit while Aly whispered "Go dancing" in a subliminal kind of way. And so I agreed to go.

I haven't been dancing of really any kind in years. I haven't even done any shows with choreography in them in forever. And I'm not a very good dancer between the imperfect knees and the inability to translate patterned movement from my brain to my feet. But my partners (Larry, and Dave, and Dark Eric) were kind and we whirled around the floor in one-steps (walking to a melody, more or less) and waltzes and swing dance-y things. It was lovely.

For years and years the only dances I could execute at all well (besides my specialty, desk dancing) were:

the Highland Fling (taught me to at YMCA camp before my knees went south);
the grapevine/Hora;
and a waltz.

For Pippin long years ago Lorraine beat into me taught me to do a scissor step, but I don't think that I've retained it. In fact, I know I haven't retained it. But after repeated, random exposure, I'm starting to kind of pick up the elements of some swing dances.

And in college I was in what I thought of as "Grey's dance troupe." No, really, I was. Really. Grey is about the only person I know who can consistently talk me into dancing. Actually, Grey used a couple extra dice when she made her charisma roll, so she can talk prett' near anyone into prett' near anything. So I was in Markland's dance troupe, Thrir Venstri Foetr* for several years and actually did exhibition dancing. You know, for the public. Where they could see me.

Fortunately, medieval dancing (back when I learned it, when it was contemporary dancing, I guess) comes in more or less two categories -- the pavanne (or pavane - the double n spelling seems to be specific to Markland, but it's pronounced puh-VAH-n) which is the "ooh, look at my pretty dress" stately dance and the bransle (pronounced "brawl") which is the "let's shout, get sweaty, and drink more beer" vigorous dance. (There are also the steps to "Scotland the Brave," and while it is my personal favorite, this girl was never a serious candidate to learn that dance - too much jump and pivot, you know?)

So dancing reasonably competently on Sunday was just a delight. Like most of the things that Greykell suggests doing. I must go again sometime. Soon.

And, by the way, it's called "Oella Dancing" because it happens in Oella, Maryland which is reached by driving on the sorts of swoopy roads that are like dancing in themselves.

*Forgotten our Old Norse, have we? Three Left Feet.

And from (of course) Hello, Dolly! the song that sums up the evening.

Put your hand on her waist and stand
With her right in your left hand
And one two three, one two three, one two three...

Look I'm dancing!
Well, I was.

Of course you were, Mr. Hackl!

Take the someone whose arms you're in
Hold onto her tight and spin
And one two three, one two three, one two three...

Wow, I'm dancing!

Turn around and turn around, try floating through the air
Can't you be a little more aesthetic?

Don't you think my dancing has a polish and a flair?

The word I think I'd use is athletic!

Well my heart is about to burst
My head is about to pop
And now that I'm dancing who cares if I ever stop!
...Look at me, everybody! I, Cornelius Hackl...Sport
...Am dancing!

You're next, Mr. Tucker!
Glide and step and then step and glide...

And everyone stand aside!

He's dancing!

You could learn to polka if you worked a week or so
Or the tango filled with passion seething

I might join the chorus of the castle garden show

Whatever you do for gosh shakes keep breathing

Barnaby, Dolly and Cornelius:
For my heart is about to burst
My head is about to pop
And now that I'm dancing who cares if I ever stop!

Mrs. Molloy:
When there's someone you hardly know
But wish you were closer to
Remember that he can be near to you
While you're dancing

Though you've only just said "hello"
He's suddenly someone who
Can make all your daydreams appear to you
While you're dancing

Make the music weave a spell
Whirl away your worry
Things look almost twice as well
When you're slightly blurry

As around and around you go
Your spirits will hit the top

Dolly, Cornelius, & Mrs. Molloy:
And now that we're dancing
Who cares if we ever stop

Mrs. Molloy, Barnaby, Dolly and Cornelius:
And now that we're dancing
Who cares if we ever stop

04 December 2007

Works and Grace

Great Cathedrals

by George Bilgere, from The Good Kiss.
© The University of Akron Press.

Before a date, my college roommate
Used to drive his candy-apple red Camaro
Down to the car wash and spend the afternoon
Washing, waxing, vacuuming it,
Detailing the chrome strips, buffing the fenders,
Spraying the big expensive tires
With their raised white lettering

That said something like Intruder
Or Marauder, with a silicone spray
Until they were slick and dark as sex.
He polished that car as if each caress,
Each pass of the chamois, each loving
Stroke of the terry cloth would increase,

By measurable degrees,
The likelihood that in the immaculate
Front seat, with its film of freshly applied
Vinyl cleaner, at the end of a cul-de-sac
Somewhere above the campus,
She would consent to be rubbed
And buffed just as lovingly.

We do what we can,
And if God is no more impressed
By the cathedral at Chartres
Than by a righteously clean and cherry
Camaro, at least He can't say
We haven't tried

With all our might to conceal our fear
That we have little else to offer
Than stained glass or polished chrome,
The elbow grease of our good intentions.

So I'm happy to see
That in the Christmas card photo he sent
Mark stands, balding now,
With a dignified gut, a pretty wife,
And a couple of nice-looking kids, in front
Of the great cathedral
Like the sweet vision of a future
He'd been vouchsafed one day
Long ago, through Turtle Wax
On a gleaming hubcap.

Make mine a Bronx

Perhaps because they've never tried one, the Sidecar got left off of this list of 5 Cocktails that Deserve a Comeback. A tragic oversight, especially as it could easily have replaced the Black Velvet (ick) or the Stinger (Cary Grant or no Cary Grant).

I've had a Manhattan but still need to try the Bronx and the Rob Roy*, a.k.a. the "Scotch Manhattan." The word left out of the recipe on MSN is, of course, vermouth.

Another cocktail that uses orange bitters is the RAC Cocktail, which someone I know first had in Paris. He liked it enough to acquire his own bottle of orange bitters. I have a bottle (rather ancient, but hanging in there) of regular bitters but if I end up liking the Rob Roy enough, I may have to add the orange variety to the liquor tray.

Here's the recipe, provided by Beefeater:

R.A.C. Cocktail (created in 1914 for the Royal Automobile Club)

40ml London dry gin
25ml Noilly Dry
25ml Noilly Rouge
5ml grenadine
dash orange bitter

Stir ingredients over ice. Strain into coupette, then garnish with a cherry and orange peel.

*although I've already had both a Roy Rogers and a Shirley Temple.

01 December 2007

It seems my voice carries

When one of the engineers was walking around with the clipboard for the end-of-day check (which I like to joke mostly checks if you've remembered to walk around with the clipboard, but no matter), he asked me the questions on the clip board and I answered "Heck, no!" all bright and cheerfully.

"Oh, no," he said, "I heard you talking to the copier. I know you can do better than that."

30 November 2007

In which Leta uses language inappropriate to the workplace

Oh, how I hate the copier here on the 8th floor. My Capital B Boss has suggested that when the lease is up I might want to chop it to bits with the fire ax and I am looking forward to that very much.

Today I was frustrated enough with the damn thing that I was reduced to calling it - in a rather loud voice - a stupid, fucking USELESS piece of CRAP! (Which. It. Is.)

I was loud enough to draw the attention of a couple of my co-workers. One engineer, one ex-military. Both of them older than me. Fortunately, I am widely considered to be of such calm and even temperament* that when I get all torqued about something it's largely regarded as cute and entertaining. People talk about it for days, each time insisting that I am too nice and that I never get upset.

Well, with one exception. One time I really lost my temper. I don't remember what about, but I was well and truly angry. I didn't yell or cuss or throw things but I was pretty visibly mad and everyone who worked here then still calls that time the "the day that Leta got mad."

*For instance, I was amused rather than mortally offended when one engineer, noting that my sweater was looser than usual, asked me if I was pregnant. In front of other people. The office consensus was that if he had asked anyone but me that question he would have been killed on the spot.

29 November 2007

Non-cash compensation

I did a brief reading with Rich last night of sections of his play, The Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt. It was near home and took about 25 minutes. And I got to see Rich, which is always a pleasure.

Right before we started he slipped me three cherry cordial Hershey kisses. Because he remembered that I love them.

I'm happy to work with Rich. Any time.

28 November 2007

Uno gets on board

From an Uno Chicago Grill press release ----

blah, blah, blah, we're so great
blah, blah, we love our customers
blah, blah leader in casual dining

And then the bit I care about:

100 Percent Nutritional Transparency:

In addition to offering nutritional information and insight on its Web site (www.unos.com), Uno Chicago Grill is the only casual dining chain to provide Nutrition Information Centers in the lobbies of its restaurants. Using these kiosks, customers can review ingredients, fat and sodium content, calories, fiber, gluten-free options and more, addressing any food, calorie, fat, health or allergen concern.

Gluten-Free Options:

The number of people reporting food-related allergies has surged in recent years. For guest convenience, Uno’s Nutrition Information Centers clearly label menu items with the most common food allergies: Fish/Shellfish, soy, tree nuts/peanuts, egg, milk and wheat/gluten.

Among those, gluten is a concern for millions of Americans. At Uno, gluten-free doesn’t mean taste-free. Guests looking for great tasting gluten-free foods have more than 20 options from which to choose, including:

o Classic Cobb Salad
o Chicken Gorgonzola
o Grilled Rosemary Chicken
o Baby Back Ribs
o Filet Mignon
o Top Sirloin Steak
o Lemon Basil Salmon
o Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Mango Salsa

Because it runs through my head sometimes

Garrison Keillor sings this occasionally as Lefty-the-Cowboy on Lives of the Cowboys on PHC.

And both Theresa Brewer and Marlene Dietrich have recorded it which would be quite the study in contrasts.

You’re the cream in my coffee
From the show "Hold Everything" (1929)
(B.G. DeSylva / Lew Brown / Ray Henderson)

You’re the cream in my coffee,
You’re the salt in my stew;
You will always be my necessity--
I’d be lost without you.

You’re the starch in my collar,
You’re the lace in my shoe;
You will always be my necessity--
I’d be lost without you.

Most men tell love tails,
And each phrase dovetails.
You’ve heard each known way,
This way is my own way.

You’re the sail of my love boat,
You’re the captain and crew;
You will always be my necessity--
I’d be lost without you.

You give life savor,
Bring out its flavor;
So this is clear, dear,
You’re my worcestershire, dear.

You’re the sail of my love boat,
You’re the captain and crew;
You will always be my necessity--
I’d be lost without you.

Musical Theater

My friend Chris is totally hooked on Slings and Arrows, a Canadian show about a theater (or "theatre") company in Canada. He loves it so much that he carries it around on DVDs on his laptop and shows bits of it to unsuspecting castmates and the like, the same way that I ambush-read people bits of books and plays. He convinced me, so I bought the DVD for season 1.

Here's a clip that Chris found on YouTube for me:

27 November 2007

Horror Story

This past weekend was Thanksgiving.
Monday was read-thru for Arcadia.
Monday was also costume measurement day.

26 November 2007

For the Pogues, a rather chipper little song

I more strongly connect the Pogues to songs like, oh, say Dirty Old Town so this one caught my ear.

Tuesday Morning

Too many sad days
Too many Tuesday mornings
I thought of you today
I wished it was yesterday morning
I thought of you today
I dreamt you were dressed in mourning

But I knew that you
With your heart beating
And your eyes shining
Would be dreaming of me
Lying with you
On a Tuesday morning

I fell through the window
And I found that I was still breathing
I thought of tomorrow
And the fear that you might leave me
I thought of tomorrow
And I wished it was Monday morning


Turn your face from me
And I will cover myself with sorrow
Bring hell down upon me
I will surrender my heart to sorrow
Bring hell down upon me
And I will say goodbye tomorrow

25 November 2007

A walk in the park

David and I had a nice little hike through Difficult Run Stream Valley Park this afternoon. We walked about two miles in a little under an hour, just enough to give my hiking shoes a little workout and to admire some woodpeckers, chickadees, and the like.

There is a little rock trail across Difficult Run and I insisted that we pause in the middle of it and just "stop, look, and listen." All part of the experience, along with smelling the smells.

We saw three bike riders, one horseman, and a couple of families, one with a dog.

Just a pleasant little hour. David does this fairly frequently (only farther and faster) but we don't get to do it together very often.

24 November 2007

Ink blot

I got an odd little text message this morning: "Please call". No number, no name, leaving me to wonder who wanted to hear from me. It wasn't David because at 9:30 this morning (roughly when the text came in) he and I were having breakfast, so talking to me about something wouldn't be that complicated.

My wheelchair-bound mother? She needs my help to send e-mail, so you know she doesn't text. Heck, I'm barely text literate because as far as I know my phone will only receive them, it won't send them.

The small number of my friends who actually do text? They'd probably have said "Call me." Maybe with a name because they all know that I know more than half dozen people. And that I'm not all that quick with guessing games.


As it turned out it, "Please call" was one of those pre-mature sendings because there was a phone message with the rest of the message waiting for me. But it got me to wondering who I would have called had I not gotten the rest of the message. Who I would have assumed wanted to talk to me. Or needed to talk to me. Who was my Jeopardy answer friend? I'll take Leta's Friends for a $100, please Alex....

I read somewhere that if you send a bunch of people an anonymous letter that just says "All is known. Fly at once." that some of them would leave town. Maybe. Maybe not. But if someone sent you a note saying "All is known" what would you think was revealed?

23 November 2007


The pies were a great success and enjoyed by all and the gluten-free crusts were, outside of being a little extra crumbly, quite tasty.

The entire apple pie was gone before breakfast, so I had a small slice of the pumpkin with my bacon, egg-fried-over-hard-in-the-bacon-grease, and real boiled grits.* That's what Daddy makes for me and it's one of my favorite breakfasts.

Everyone else had toast or bagels but only I was smart enough to consider pie a breakfast pastry.

*Bacon grease and grits are what give women of southern descent our lovely complexions. Just so you know.

Another reason David likes me

He says that I'm good bird karma and I guess that so because we pulled to stop at an errand in Leesburg and what should land on a fence post 20 or 30 feet from us? A Sharp-shinned Hawk, that's what. And that guy seemed pretty happy to stay right where he was for a while, so David pulled out the bins and we both got a good close look. Close enough to admire that odd yellow patch at the top of his nose.

A Sharp-shinned isn't a "life lister" for either of us, but how often does a hawk just sit around like that? And it was the closest I have ever been to a living hawk in my life.

21 November 2007

Can she bake a pretty pie, charming Billy?

This year for Thanksgiving at Dad & Audrey's I am tasked with making a couple of pies, a task I am happy to take on. Building a pie, especially an apple pie, involves three things that make me happy: cooking, puttering, and watching tv.

I think that I was tasked with pies because when left to my own choice, it seems that I bring the sorts of vegetables that only I like: parsnips, turnips, chestnuts, brussels sprouts. Pies contain none of those things.

The single longest step in a building an apple pie is coring, peeling, and slicing the apples, which frees up the mind admirably to watch silly over-the-top procedurals. Criminal Minds, tragically isn't nearly as over-the-top as CSI: Any Damn Place, but then they only have Thomas Gibson acting as though he were employed by Jack Webb. And let's face it, if you don't have a meglomaniacal leprechaun as as your first-billed, you're working at a disadvantage, humor-wise. But --- I digress.

Last night I made the pumpkin pie - my first. I don't eat pumpkin pie very often, so I'd never bothered to learn how to make them. Turns out that it's veee-rrr-yyy easy:

Measure the dry ingredients;
Beat the eggs;
Add the pumpkin and the dry ingredients to the eggs;
Slow beat in the evaporated milk;
Pour into unbaked pie shell
Put in a very hot oven;
After 15 minutes reduce the heat on the oven and bake another 45 minutes.

Ta da!

It looks right but I won't really know how it turned out until tomorrow. Could be fabulous, could suck. Wish me luck!

Tonight I built the apple pie. So seeemple.

Take several apples and wash them, peel about half of them, core and slice them;
Toss them in a bowl with enough cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar to make you smile;
Add other ingredients that catch your eye, like, oh, candied ginger, dried cranberries or cherries that you've rehydrated with boiling water, stuff like that;
Pile into a pie shell and top with chopped pecans;
Bake in a 350-degree oven until done.

I've only ever messed up two apple pies and one didn't count. The one that counted was a couple of Thanksgivings ago when I tried to make a gluten-free crust. Here's a piece of advice for free: buckwheat flour may contain no gluten but it turns pie crust grey. Grey is not an appetizing color for pie crust. Ever. Fortunately for me, Whole Foods now makes gluten-free pie shells. I didn't even look to see how much they cost because, well, we all know that I was gonna pay it. So this year's pies are rejoicing in properly colored crusts. All together now: Whew.

The messed up apple pie that doesn't count was some years ago when I forgot how much liquid an apple can give up while baking, especially when rubbing elbows with brown sugar. Your average pie needs about a teaspoon of liquid. That time I added about a tablespoon and what should have been a yummy pie was a yummy ice cream topping. It was, however, it should be noted, still yummy.

So David and I are off to Dad and Audrey's tomorrow and I'm visiting Mom on Sunday. Mom asked what I would like and I voted for her cranberry relish, my favorite. So we'll have brunch downstairs and then go up to her place for cranberry relish and stuff. Mom's cranberry relish, by the way, is excellent on gluten-free toaster waffles.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I, once again, have more blessings than I can count and am grateful for all of them and hope you are the same.

20 November 2007

Yeah. Me, too.

"And she only eats gluten-free food! I don't even know what gluten is, but I know I love it!"

Jenn, freaking out about her mother-in-law-elect on Rules of Engagement

19 November 2007

Brave and Crazy

On Friday I saw Sally's daughter, Sarah in Our Country's Good, a rather nice piece about transportees in 18th century Australia. By "nice," of course, I mean interesting and of theatrical merit, not lacking in unpleasantness.

More and more high schools are doing shows that would never have been seen on a Montgomery County school stage back when I was in high school. I mean, our Alice and Tony (in that standard of G-rated theater You Can't Take It With You) didn't even kiss when they got engaged. They hugged. They hugged the sort of hug that chalk-throwing and ruler-smacking nun would have found unobjectionable.

But Our Country's Good is definitely at least PG-13. Our Country's Good, as the Wikipedia informs us, is a play written in 1988 by British playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker, based on the novel "The Playmaker" by Thomas Keneally. The play tells the story of convicts and Royal Marines sent to Australia in the late 1780s as part of the first penal colony there. It follows Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark's attempts to put on a production of George Farquhar's restoration comedy "The Recruiting Officer" with a cast of male and female convicts. The play shows the class system in the convict camp and discusses themes such as sexuality, punishment, the Georgian judicial system, and the idea that art can act as an ennobling force.

So once we get past the fact that these kids won't be playing Alice and Tony, the only way to do the play justice is to play it for all it's worth. And they did. There were good performances and some truly excellent performances and the play believes some of the same things that I do about theater.

At their best actors are brave and crazy - willing to do whatever they have to tell the story truthfully - and these well-off American teen-agers were brave enough and crazy enough to find the place where the cruelty and inhumanity of transportation and the humanity of the meanest prisoner live and take those things in to themselves and show them to us. To shine that light that theater can shine on the human condition.

True patriots we, for be it understood,
We left our country for our country's good.

It was lovely.

And how often can you call the daughter of a friend a "vicious little doxy" in front of her mother and have all three of you understand that the phrase was meant in its most complimentary sense?

So in honor of Sarah and her classmates, here is Shel Silverstein's song about Australian history. Mind you, it sounds better than it reads, especially if you hear it in a room full of folks who've had a beer or two and are singing along. That's how I learned it anyway.

Son of a Soundrel (by Shel Silverstein)

Big Barney Fitch, he got soddenly rich
He got a big fancy house in Melbourne
With buckets of loot and big black leather boots
Acting so haughty and well-born

But we of Australia, we're children of convicts
And some of us wear it quite proudly
So as he rides by in his carriage so fine
I wave and I call to him loudly

Was your grandma a whore, was your grandpa a thief
Were they forgers and grafters who fell to their grief
If you're born of Australia, I know who ya be
You're the son of a son of a scoundrel like me

Maggie McKay's got a sweet-lovin' way
And I know that she does adore me
But her parents, they feel it would be a bad deal
They say that she's much too good for me

So as we said goodbye, with a tear in her eye
They were smiling and glad of the breakin'
But they didn't look so proud when I shouted out loud
'Til the whole floggin' town was awakened


Madam Marie loves the men from the sea
She says that they're good for business
Her daughters are found in a section of town
Known for a certain rudeness

Then the cops paid a call, and the judge says, "That's all
It's time for a new profession"
Marie laughed out loud, and in front of the crowd
Says, "Judge, will you answer this question"


18 November 2007

They will pay

I went to see the childrens' show at Elden Street today and they were using the wicked substance. Yep. Glitter. Even Adam, the stage manager was all bright and sparkly.

They'd gotten to him. He had glitter in his hair, on his skin, on his clothes. (How he's going to get through a day at a Northern Virginia high school tomorrow is beyond me.)

After the show I was carefully hugging the folks I knew when Adam twigged that I was trying to avoid the going to Sparkly Hell. At which point he was more interested in rubbing up against me than a puppy usually is.* Others added to the Adam's crimes.

So they will pay. Maybe collectively. Maybe individually. It just depends on how I determine to wreak my terrible revenge. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon and for the rest of their lives.

Because that's how long I'll be finding glitter on me.

*not that way! Geez. Bunch of gutter minds you people are.

17 November 2007

Reasons to be cheerful, Part 13

I auditioned for a show in Reston, the director went another way, blah, blah, blah. Okay, you're up to speed on the background.

In the past week I have sat in three completely wretched traffic back ups. And the reason given for two of them? "Hmmmm. Lots of cars out there." Yes. There were. All of them driving very slowly in front of me.

On Tuesday I was on the Toll Road heading to work and I really kinda wanted to get there early because I'd forgotten to do something for my boss. Instead, I sat in traffic and was a half hour late.

On Tuesday night, I was going to have dinner at Chicken Out before seeing a friend's show. Instead I sat in traffic on the GW Parkway and ate chili from Wendy's in the lobby right before curtain.

(Alert readers will notice that I got to sit in two horrible traffic back-ups on the same day!)

On Thursday, barely recovered from Tuesday, I was going to meet Lori and Katie at 6:30 for dinner before seeing a show. Instead I spent an hour going, oh I dunno, 7 miles on the Toll Road. What would that make my speed? 7 miles an hour. That right. I was in first or second gear the entire time. Bleh and double bleh.

How does all this tie in to the lead paragrah in this post? Because as all three of these horrible, awful, no-good, very bad wretched traffic back-ups were in Virginia and two of them were near the rehearsal and performance space for the show in which I was not cast. And as I sat there, aimlessly poking at the radio buttons and fidgeting, the thought occured to me more than once:

Thank you, Adam, for not casting me and making me deal with all the cars in Virginia.

Instead, I'll do a nice show in Rockville, not far from home. Yay!

16 November 2007

When to call Tech Support

I have DSL these days which largely makes my life better - songs download from iTunes in a few seconds rather than a few minutes - except when it doesn't. Dial-up had a more reliable (in my opinion) signal. If I just waited long enough, I got through. DSL sometimes seems to prey to outside forces and I'll loose the signal, which makes me sad.

One recent Sunday morning I spent 30 or 40 minutes on line waiting for someone from Tech Support to help me (and, yes, I am very aware that my call is important to them). So Sunday morning is clearly the wrong time to call Tech Support, just as a very cold, sleeting Monday morning is the wrong time to call Triple A.

On the other hand, the wind woke me up in the middle of night last night. (Or rather, early this morning.) When I realized that, yeah, I was going to be awake for a while, I figured why not try Tech Support (DSL was out when I got home last night).

So, from my very small sample, the correct time to call Tech Support?

4:20 AM.

I waited about 12 seconds to be connected to a real-live-girl and when I had to hang up (the phone and the modem use the same line) in order to carry out one of her suggestions, she said that she would call me right back as compared to Sunday morning when they are overbusy and need for you to call back. And she did call me back. Twice.

The actual problem wasn't resolved but in some ways that meant less to me than not spending forever on hold listening to DSL-provider propaganda.


"Girder" by Nan Cohen, from Rope Bridge.
© Cherry Grove Collection.


The simplest of bridges, a promise
that you will go forward,

that you can come back.
So you cross over.

It says you can come back.
So you go forward.

But even if you come back
then you must go forward.

I am always either going back
or coming forward. There is always

something I have to carry,
something I leave behind.

I am a figure in a logic problem,
standing on one shore

with the things I cannot leave,
looking across at what I cannot have.

14 November 2007

Lord Bryon for a damp Wednesday

Lord Byron

CXC. "When we two parted"

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted,
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this!
The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow;
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame:
I hear thy name spoken
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me—
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee
Who knew thee too well:
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met:
In silence I grieve
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?—
With silence and tears.

Etiquette for engineers

How not to accept the large and important document that I broke my butt over:

You know, I'm never gonna even open this.

How to accept said document:


13 November 2007

Bad segue. Bad, bad.

A promo I just heard for Entertainment Tonight:

Announcer Voice: What happened when the dog that Ellen gave away visited the ET set?

ET Host Voice: Hello, Everyone, I'm Mary Hart.

Poor Mary.

The same headline across a million blogs

Then I'm a freakin' genius

In one of those studies (in Evolution and Human Behavior) that makes you think that researchers have too much money and too much time on their hands (here's another), it has been determined that there is some kind of correlation between where excess body fat is stored and intelligence.

The idea - very condensed, with all that implies - is that pear-shaped women (comme moi) store more Omega-3s along with their excess calories and apple-shaped women store more Omega-6s. Omega-3s have a connection to brain development,so more stored Omega-3s would indicate that pear-shaped women are more likely to confer a developmental benefit to their children (which they themselves also share).

I dunno, I'm pretty bright, but my pear-shapedness comes from my bone structure rather than calorie storage. When I was a freshman in college I was 5'7" and weighed 110 pounds. 110 very bony, underfed-looking pounds. People used to give me food, as though they had the option of helping me or turning the page.* And even then my hips were the widest part of my oh so skinny bod.

The reporting on the study goes on to include the speculation that men go after curvy women because of this possible developmental benefit. Again, I dunno. I've heard a fair number of men talk about women they find appealing and "check out that hip-to-waist ratio.... She's gonna have brilliant kids" has never been part of the conversation.

That doesn't mean, however, that I'm going to resist the temptation to e-mail some of my more slim-hipped friends with the news that I am smarter than they are. Won't they be surprised.

*It drove Audrey, my step-Mom, prett' near insane that I consumed about 8,000 calories a day and gained not an ounce. She felt extremely vindicated when my metabolism slowed in my mid-20s.


She has made her mind up, it seems, to marry me off to Sebastian, and was at pains to persuade me of the attractions of the married state: “It’s lovely,” she said, “it’s so comfortable.” She did concede, however - rather wistfully, I thought - that it was not quite as exhilarating as other possible arrangements. “You can’t expect your husband to spend the whole day thinking how wonderful it is that he’s going to have dinner with you - he usually does have dinner with you, so there’s nothing special about it. One does rather miss that sort of thinking - it makes one feel so cheerful, doesn’t it, and so good-tempered and energetic? But men don’t understand that; they like being married - it makes them feel safe and secure. You wouldn’t want poor Sebastian to feel insure, would you?” I suggested that the ideal arrangement might be to have both a husband and an admirer – that being the correct term, I believe, for a man who looks forward to having dinner with one. “Oh, it is,” she said, with more enthusiasm than you might expect from a respectable married woman. “But you can’t make it last, you see. The admirer always wants to marry you and be safe and secure, so you end up with complications and unpleasantness.”

The Shortest Way to Hades by Sarah Caudwell

12 November 2007

But of course

cash advance

When I marry

My friend, Bill, proposed today (one of the reasons that I so enjoy reading my e-mail) and I accepted and we have decided to run off together. He suggested Reno, but I have countered with Elkton, Maryland, the American Gretna Green. It was so famous for being an elopement destination that it even gets a mention in David's current project, Guys and Dolls.*

Of course, Bill and I are both theater people, so we'll have to find a time when neither of us has a show up or in heavy rehearsal, which could be rather a challenge. His current show is down December 3rd, so it'll have to be after that. But not on the 9th, as that's David's and my anniversary and I'm sure we'll have a date that night.

Your mother and I both got married. But we didn’t drop more important things to do it. Marriage isn’t a career. It’s an incident! Aubrey Cavendish and I were married in the Church of St. Mary Redcliffe, in Bristol, England, just before the matinée. The wedding supper was served on the stage of the Theatre Royale between the matinée and night performance – we played “She Stoops to Conquer” in the afternoon, and “A Scrap of Paper” was the night bill. They sent the supper in from the George and Lion next door, and very nice it was, too, but I remember they’d gone and put nutmeg in the gooseberry tarts, and Aubrey could never abide nutmeg. It must have been that that upset him for he gave the only bad performance that night that I ever saw him give.
Fanny Cavendish in The Royal Family by Edna Ferber and George S. Kauffman

*Adelaide: (sighs) Gee, wouldn't it be wonderful it we could be married tomorrow night. Right after the show at the Hot Box.
Nathan Detroit: Adelaide, we need time for a license --
Officer Brannigan: You could elope.
Nathan Detroit: What?
Officer Brannigan: You can drive down to Maryland – what's the name of that town?
Benny Southstreet: Pimlico.
Officer Brannigan: Not Pimlico, no, Nathan, Elkton. They'll marry you right away. They don't ask you for a blood test.
Nathan Detroit: Ain't that unhealthy?

I love my friends because ...

They use phrases like "refractory period" in casual conversation.

11 November 2007

Oh well

I got the "no, thank you" call for the show I read for. They were nice, I was gracious, we moved on.

Making those calls really sucks.

10 November 2007


It's a lovely autumn Saturday and I don't have rehearsal today or a performance tonight, so I am having the sort of day I really enjoy:

Up around 7:30;
Gluten-free waffles & syrup and a nice, hot cup of tea for breakfast;
Putting around, cleaning;
Audition this afternoon;
Road trip to Richmond with Mary Ann and John to see Sallie's first college show; and
Staying the (remainder) of the night with David.

And one of the best things about the road trip is that when I reply e-mailed to Mary Ann that I could go, I thought to call shot gun and John didn't. Mwhaa haaa haaa.

Up for tomorrow:

Read the paper and stuff with David in the morning;
Brunch with Sally and Laura;
Seeing David in Guys and Dolls with Lisa and Gaye.

I should do this sort of thing more often.

09 November 2007

Let Us Be Merry Before We Go

By John Philpot Curran

IF SADLY thinking, with spirits sinking,
Could, more than drinking, my cares compose
A cure for sorrow from sighs I’d borrow,
And hope to-morrow would end my woes.
But as in wailing there’s nought availing,
And Death unfailing will strike the blow,
Then for that reason, and for a season,
Let us be merry before we go.

To joy a stranger, a wayworn ranger,
In every danger my course I’ve run;
Now hope all ending, and death befriending,
His last aid lending, my cares are done.
No more a rover, or hapless lover,
My griefs are over—my glass runs low;
Then for that reason, and for a season,
Let us be merry before we go.

08 November 2007

Lessee, I need oatmeal, rice, aaand a jazz combo

I stopped by Whole Paycheck last night on my way home, just to pick up a few things. Well, one or two things, but the, well, the shopping there sometimes gets a little out of hand. Especially when the Indian frozen entrees are on saaaaaa-eeellllll!

Whew. Okay, I'm better now. I really am.

Anyway, I was wandering around the produce area in that kind of a haze I get into in prett' near any kind of store, but especially grocery stores, when I heard a sousaphone. No really, I did.

I tracked the sound to its source and it turned out that Whole Paycheck had hired a Jazz group to play during the pre-Thanksgiving tasting that they were having. So I got in the chow-ette line and had a plastic martini glass (a really great way to do samples, by the way) of Thanksgiving food* which was kinda like a trial-size autumn festival - while enjoying freshly played jazz. Had a back rub or two been going around, it would have been the perfect grocery shopping experience.

If music be the food of love, play on!

* The Balsamic cranberry relish was very, very tasty but it was nothing on Mom's cranberry relish. Mom brings the cranberry.

07 November 2007

Leta and Sara at Easter

We needed family pictures for the set of Taking Leave, so Mom let me root through a box of old snapshots and take this one (among others). I'm on the left and Sara, looking pretty much exactly like Daddy in drag is the cute blond on my right. I was six and Sara three. Although I've long outgrown the dress (thank goodness) and the hat (pity), I still have the cross.

We're standing on the steps of the house where we grew up and were probably impatient to not be standing there anymore. Mom would frame and focus pictures for what seemed like hours at a time and I suspect that when she got the prints back she had to ditch quite a few where we had the "take the pic - ture" expressions.

I like most of the snapshots from when we were very little but for some reason I particularly like this one. Maybe because it was taken at a time when Sara would still let me hold her hand.

06 November 2007


La molesse est douce, et sa suite est cruelle.
(Idleness is sweet, and its consequences are cruel.)

John Quincy Adams, in his diary.

05 November 2007

Burn, Baby, Burn

Yesterday morning, after my very restful three hours of sleep, I got ready to go strike the set for Taking Leave. Our call was for 10:00, so I got up around 9:00, dressed, made myself some tea and some yummy gluten-free toaster waffles, which I made even yummier by generously sprinkling them with freshly ground nutmeg. Figuring that that day of all days I could use it, I took one of the "energy" vitamin supplements that Mom gave me* and headed out.

About half way to the theater, my arms started to feel very hot. Not hot like I was wearing too heavy a sweater, but hot like a chemical burn. Within a few minutes the skin on my arms had developed an odd, pebbly texture and a noticably cerise hue. And itched just slightly. (This is a truly interesting experience to have when one is driving, by the way, and not distracting at all.)

I tried to figure out what was happening to me and immediately ruled out some freakish new Celiac Disease symptom because while it is possible (CD presents in all kinds of weird ways, being a system-wide autoimmune disease) it's not very likely seeing as that's never happened to me before.

Could it be some kind of response to being exceedingly tired? Also, unlikely.

After another second or two - and considering that I was working on three hours of sleep, I am pretty impressed with myself for having realized this so quickly - I concluded that I was probably experiencing my first ever Niacin Flush. I could just bet that the pills Mom gave me contained some heapin' helpin' of Niacin. I'd not reacted badly to the pills before but I was also willing to bet that nutmeg - a warming spice - is also Niacin-enabled, and was probably enough to push my overtired bod into the red zone.

If you've never had Niacin Flush before, please don't rush out and load up on the stuff just for the experience because while it's not painful, it's definitely rather uncomfortable, rather like having a sunburn from the inside of the skin out. I think I now know how food feels while it's being microwaved.

Fortunately, Niacin Flush isn't permanent or especially destructive. Basically, Naicin is a vasodilator, so once my capillaries returned to their regular size, the redness and swelling abated. I'm still a tiny bit itchy, but at least the flush never got to my face because I can't imagine a way in which that would have been attractive.

When I got home, I checked the label on the "Energy Boost" and sure enough:

Thiamin 38 mg (2533%)

Niacin 60 mg (300%)

Vitamin B12 1 mg (16,667%)

Biotin 1 mg (333%)

Chromium (as chealate) 100 mcg (83%)

I looked up nutmeg, too:
Niacin: 1.400 mg per 100 gm.

The DRV is 20 mg, but the numbers above aren't too scary when you consider that the pro-Niacin crowd suggest taking around 200 mg/day. Or more. A lot more. (Those people are, clearly, wackos.)

I think that the next time that I want to experiment with vitamin poisoning, I'll just stick with huge amounts of vitamin C or something. At least that's water soluble.

*Mom loves vitamins and back before the MS took away walking as her primary mode of transportation you knew when she was coming by the faint rattling sound of all those pills working their way through her system. The only vitamins that I buy are Centrums. The other eight that I take are gifts from Mom. Every day I take a Centrum and every other day I take either Vitimin C, Calcium, and Vitimin E or Bee Propilus (I dunno, ask Mom), Evening Primrose, and Fish Oil (for the Omega-3s). Recently Mom gave some "stress relief vitamins," some "energy" vitamins, and some green tea extract capsules,** the first two of which I take maybe once a month, that last of which is pretty much just a nice little reminder that my Mommy loves me.

**I love Mom and I really appreicate her concern for me, but I gotta say that I am probably one of the least likely candidates for green tea extract capsules of anyone I know. Especially as I would probably wash them down with some tea.

04 November 2007

How to be very tired

1. Close your show with the sort of performance - and the sort of audience - that you always hope for;
2. Greet well wishers and hang out for a bit;
3. Go to the cast party with the always charming and entertaining Tommy as your date;*
4. Intend to be there for maybe an hour or so, definitely long enough to be there when the thanks yous are given to the director and staff;
5. Enjoy the great food and wonderful conversation;
6. Have a small glass or two of wine;
7. Consider leaving when the bulk of the guests head out the door;
8. Continue listening to Tommy and Lorraine be interesting about theater;
9. Have another splash of wine. But just a splash. I mean it.
10. Participate in the fascinating conversation but notice how late it's getting;
11. When the clock says 3:00, start making going home noises;
12. Get pulled back into conversation;
13. Have some tea;
14. When the clock says 3:30, become more serious about leaving, but Tommy's walking you to your car (no guest parking in the development), so wait for him a bit and because, well, the conversation is still interesting, darn it;
15. When the clock says 4:00, mention that you need to be at the community center for strike in a six hours;
16. Start the real good-bye process;
17. Get walked to your car, get in the car, start the car;
18. Notice that the clock in the dashboard doesn't say 4:20 but 5:20 because Lorraine had already reset her clocks;
19. Drive home;
20. Arrive home around 6:00 and settle in for a three-hour nap before strike.
21. Blame Tommy, Lorraine, and Dawn for being way too much fun to hang around with. Take no personal responsibility for partying like a college sophmore.
22. Hope to do that again some time when you don't have to get up the next day.

*Don't worry - David is appearing in a show elsewhere and has his own cast bonding to do.

03 November 2007

My Favorite Time

A minute or two to 8:00 on Saturday night in January or May or October. Everyone has a show up, so all over the DC area people are standing just off stage, waiting for curtain. If you listen carefully, you can feel the sub-sonic gliss of energy. It's a very quiet, very focused energy, like right before any big, concerted effort, like the downbeat of a concert, or an infantry charge, or a wedding.*

We are like a web of our own, standing in different theaters all over town, all doing the same thing. Alone/Together.

It's the last possible moment to to put yourself into the place you need to be in to do this thing. It's the time right before it could all go right if we do everything the way we're meant to - the night when it could be perfect. (Well, it could be.)

It's what I miss the most when we close a show and what I love the most about doing theater. All the effort meets in that moment.

*Okay, I've only actually participated in two of those, but I've seen a lot of movies. The vibe is the same. Work with me here.

02 November 2007

Got Blood?

The DC area is having a blood shortage and I am a Red Cross blood donor, so I was recently the subject of some rather focused attention by the plastic bag and large gauge needle crowd. Especially as I am an O negative blood donor. They want me. I mean, they'd been pursuing me like a frustrated suitor. I had been getting more phone calls from them than I do from David. No flowers or jewelry, sadly, but I think that's just because I was....too easy. (Oh, the shame.)

I finally deigned to return one of their multitude of calls promising me the possibility of expensive gifts if I were agree to meet with them (and put out). So I met with them. But it wasn't for the potential gifts! I'm not that kind of girl! I just....I just wanted to do this.

I didn't expect to do it in a church during the service, of course, but it's these little surprises that keep life interesting, don't you think? When I called the Red Cross to schedule an appointment they set me up for 10:00 this past Sunday morning at Christ Congregational Church and it wasn't until Saturday night that I put together the date - October 28th - with Sunday and it occurred to me that at 10:00 on a Sunday morning churches are usually filled with congregants, clergy, choirs, etc., rather than helpful folks in white with clipboards.

I also hadn't gotten a cheery little reminder phone call, so I was starting to wonder if I had the date right. But, what the heck, I'd go and if there was no blood drive during church I could just skulk back out while feeling stood up, even if the date confusion were my own fault.

However, when I got there helpful Congregationalists (and helpful signs) directed me downstairs to the blood drive. They had the church service upstairs. There were a couple of people ahead of me, but the two activities I never mind waiting in line to do are voting and giving blood. The more the better. Y'all come.

Unlike the last time I tried to donate, my blood drop sank like a stone* so I wasn't rejected. I was made comfy on the combination lounge chair/gurney and got stuck. I always drink a lot of water before donating because my blood seems be pre-congealed most of the time and it usually takes me about 20 minutes to fill that silly little pint bag. But I think I forced somewhere between 75 and 100 ounces of water in prep, so I was done in like 11 minutes. Whoo-hoo!

Then they tried to get me to eat cookies that I'm not allowed to have**, tried to give me a t-shirt that I don't need and don't have room for, and got me to sign up for the raffle for the fabulous prizes. (Although if I win a 50" plasma TV and set it up in my home, it's just gonna scare the cat.)

So now they have my blood and they given me a bunch of empty promises. And they've stopped calling. Not that I'm surprised. Hmpf.

*The hemocrit or blood iron test. They take a drop of blood and put it into a tube of blue fluid. If the fails to sink or sinks and bounces back up, there's not enough iron in one's blood and one is deferred from donating that day. I was deferred the last time I tried to donate, which, using the whole dating analogy was like asking for a raincheck or something.

**Note to the Red Cross - some gluten-free treats wouldn't go amiss at these things.

01 November 2007

99 -- what?

It's "One-Hit Wonder" e-quest day on 94.7 and someone just asked for 99 Red Balloons (in English, yes, apparently so that I could sing along) and then dedicated it to his girlfriend.

I gotta say, I have not had nearly enough songs dedicated to me on the radio*, but I don't think that I'd want one of them to be a pop ditty about nuclear annihilation. Sure, the contrast between the upbeat, bouncy music and the theme is fun, but even so.

O Fortuna, on the other hand, who wouldn't be flattered?

* not nearly enough = none


Finding both a mini-pack of Rollos and a cherry codial Hershey's kiss in the Halloween candy at the front desk. Eating them together.


31 October 2007

I know you are, but what am I?

Heather managed (while ostensibly writing her dog and her sister's dog) to completely capture David's and my own, shall we say, zeitgeist.

For the record (as they say on As It Happens), I'm Bo, he's Chuck.

Over in this corner we have Bo, a walrus with legs, a snuggler, a barker, an absentminded ding-dong. And over here is Chuck, a neurotic gazelle*, listens to music written by men who wear mascara, prefers that you wash your hands before touching him, reads Hemingway.

Mind you, that description could also apply to Ernie and Bert and if there was ever a famous relationship that looks like our relationship, it's Ernie and Bert.

(Sigh. I'm Ernie. Sigh. He's Bert. Jeepers.)

*It is possible that David won't be flattered by this comparison, so I guess I should mention that I am rather more like an attention-seeking beagle than David is like a neurotic gazelle.

The Hell of It

From The Phantom of the Paradise by Paul Williams. Not his usual, is it?

The Hell of It

Roll on thunder, shine on lightning
The days are long and the nights are frightenin'
Nothing matters anyway,
And that's the hell of it.

Winter comes and the winds blew colder
While some grew wiser, you just grew older
And you never listened anyway,
And that's the hell of it.

Good for nothing, bad in bed
Nobody likes you and you're better off dead
Goodbye, we've all come to say goodbye (goodbye)
Goodbye (goodbye)
Born defeated, died in vain
Super-destructive, you were hooked on pain
Though your music lingers on
All of us are glad you're gone

If I could live my life half as worthlessly as you
I'm convinced that I'd wind up burning too.

Love yourself as you loved no other
Be no man's fool and be no man's brother
We're all born to die alone, you know, that's the hell of it.

Life's a game where they're bound to beat you
And time's a trick it can turn to cheat you
And we only waste it anyway,
And that's the hell of it.

Good for nothing, bad in bed
Nobody liked you and you're better off dead
Goodbye, we've all come to say goodbye (goodbye)
Goodbye (goodbye)
Born defeated, died in vain
Super-destructive, you were hooked on pain
And though your music lingers on
All of us are glad you're gone

29 October 2007

The Plan

Read about it
Read about it
Read it in the books in the crannies
And the nooks there are books to read
Tears for Fears, Sowing the Seeds of Love

There is a stack of books on my bedside table (surprised? Didn't think so.) and as I don't have rehearsal or social plans for this evening I intend to make myself a dinner that has nothing to do with a drive-through and spend the evening drinking real tea, reading books, and watching stupid television. Sit-coms and books. Real books - not scripts. I think I'll lean in the direction of the frivolous books first.

Of course, last week was supposed to filled with dinner dates, two of which got rain checked.* But I'm long over due for some spend-an-evening-at-home-with-the-cat" time so no rescheduling for me.

* Oddly enough - or not so oddly, I guess it is the obvious witticism - both people phrased their re-schedule request the same way: "Can I get a raincheck? It is raining."

27 October 2007

Bouncing around my head

This thought has been on my mind a bit lately, though I know not why:

The world will go as it will, not as you or I would have it.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, Thendara House

26 October 2007

The Things That I Would Carry

I know that many of us have been following the San Diego wildfire story - either closely or casually. I heard on NPR this morning that KPBS, a San Diego public radio station, has created a Google Maps of the situation. More importantly, in the sidebar is more or less up-to-the-minute news about which shelters are open, which neighborhoods are now safe, and other useful infomation.

You can find it here.

I have spent random minutes in the last few days wondering what I would take with me if I had to bug out and considering what a sentimental pack rat I am, the list is pretty short:

Pekoe and his kit (food, bowls, litter);
My purse;
My passport;
As much cash as I could;
Kipling (my teddy bear because he is very reassuring and makes a great emergency pillow);
Clean underthings;
A book or two - probably Middlemarch because then I would forced to finish the darned thing (and besides, it's long) and something more fun than Middlemarch;
A small "collage" I put together of family pictures; and

That was all I could come up with and I could put all that in the car in twenty minutes or so. If I had to grab-and-go the list would be:

My purse;
My passport;
As much cash as I could; and

After Hurrican Katrina David and I worked out a very basic, "I guess we'd" script of what we'd do if required to leave in a hurry. Daddy always says that they'd like to see more of us, so I guess he'd be happy to know that his and Audrey's house is where these refugees would arrive. With cat.

A few weeks ago we nearly had "Bring Your Cat to Work Day" because the fire alarm went off in my building as I was getting dressed. I finished dressing, stuffed Peek into his cat carrier using my never-fail technique (available upon request), and headed out. I dithered around for a bit but as the fire department had arrived pretty darn fast, I was able to return Peek to the apartment rather than figure out what to do with him for a full day at my office which is not set up for him or his needs at all.

On that day it was Peek, purse, passport and go. I have a horrible time letting go of things but I do know that things can be replaced, (it helps to be able to prove one's identity, of course). One place where Mollie and I lived had a nasty flood (raw sewage) in the basement and I hated with a white hot passion going through the ruined things and that was only the things I kept in basement storage. It can be done, it just sucks enormously.

I have always travelled light and though I would miss every single thing that I own, if I were asked to evac, I would lock the door, hope for the best, and leave.

I just hope I never have to.

25 October 2007

Wouldn't It Be Pretty to Think So?

My Boss*: Are you okay?

Me: Sure. Why?**

My Boss: You're just being very quiet today.

Me: No, I'm fine. You're pretty focused on some important things today so I was trying not to be an annoying distraction.

My Boss: You could never be annoying.

He doesn't give me flowers on Adminstrative Professionals Day, but he does say things like that without being sarcastic.

*Winner, Best Boss Ever '05, '06, '07

**For some reason any time I am quiet, people always ask if I am alright. I don't think that my expression in repose is one of dispair, but perhaps yes.

Why is there no Hallmark card for this?

Today is the 592nd anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. I know, I know, in 2015 there surely will be all kinds of hoop-la and bank holidays and fireworks and such and that I should just wait patiently.

And, appropriately enough, it rained heavily last night.

If you can read this, thank a longbowman.

23 October 2007

What to do, what to do

How do I fill the strangely empty evenings now that I don't have rehearsal until 10:30 (or, oy, later) in another state? (Or commonwealth. Maryland is a state. Virginia is a commonwealth, along with its fellow travellers Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. Maryland is very aware that we have commonweals on two borders.*) Um. Where was I? Oh! Right! Right.

I have dinner dates! Let's review this week for instance:

Sunday - John & Eleanor
Monday - Tommy!
Tuesday - Mattie
Wednesday - Julie (unless we have to reschedule)
Thursday - Dave

Friday, of course, I'll be at the theater. Same for Saturday. And, uhm, Sunday. But next week is also looking pretty good for dining with pals, so if you want to get onto my calendar, drop me a note!

Long years ago the delightful and talented John** and I realized that our annual salaries were a mere $30 apart and we agreed that if he took me out for a $30 dinner, universal harmony would be restored. Every now and then we'd do another paystub comparison and for a while there if we were to bring things par, I'd have had to haven taken him to dinner in Tokyo, so I'd always shift our date into the future. Ditto when he would have had to have taken me to Prague. We (John, Stacey, plus or minus Sam and Garrett) have, of course, had many lovely dinners together since then, all of them worth far more to me than $30.

And I'll start auditioning again shortly, so I guess this is a limited time offer. Act now! Volunteers are standing by!

*Note to self - Try to be more emphatic about this. Possibly with underlining or boldfacing. Or capitaliziation.

**Who is, oddly enough, John's brother-in-law. They are both named John because I met them during the John Regime before the David Junta took over.

20 October 2007

My kind of compliment

Backstage last night Clayton looked at me and said that it was so weird, I look so beautiful backstage, but once I get on, I look so ....frumpy.

For those of you how have trouble putting the word "frumpy" in the compliment list, I was flattered because what he said meant two things:

1. He thinks I'm pretty;
2. He thinks I'm doing my job on stage. Alma is kind of frumpy.

19 October 2007

Not what was intended

In the show that I am opening tonight (see sidebar, come see show), my character, Alma, has an emotional response where she cries. Myself, I'm not really a crier. Okay, the end of West Side Story makes me cry (odd because the end of Romeo and Juliet doesn't), but, in general, when I am upset I don't necessarily cry. I was surprised when I cried at my sister's funeral.

I am, in fact, usually surprised with I cry.

I've gotten physically cold when upset: once during a very upsetting discussion with Steve I was shivering and my teeth were actually chattering. But I didn't cry. Not even later.

So in getting this show ready I've been trying to learn how to cry on cue*. And just as you can sort of convince yourself that you are in a better mood than you really are by acting happy, you can set up tears by doing the things that your body does when you naturally cry.

Unless you're me.

Crying has happened a couple of times in rehearsal and then I spend the rest of the evening surfing the prolactin and adrenocorticotropic hormone wave, which is its own experience.

And this creates a new twist: my weirdo psycho-physical system seems to have realized that I'm trying to manipulate it for my own ends and is refusing to play along.

The last couple of rehearsals instead of having sad tears role down my cheeks (and sting the bejeebers out of me), I've had tearless sobs which are the lachrymal equivalent of the dry heaves. My director is fine with that because it is still an organic response although it plays merry hell with my pacing for the speech it underscores. And it feels freaky, like hiccups gone wrong.

So heaven only knows what's going to happen in each performance. Maybe tears, maybe dry sobs, maybe a perfect phlegmatic nothing.

Of course, for a couple of reasons, I'm so tired today that I could quite possibly just weep my way through the entire performance tonight. We must be careful what we wish for.

“I want to feel passion, I want to feel pain. I want to weep at the sound of your name. Come make me laugh, come make me cry... just make me feel alive.” Joey Lauren Adams

*"Crying on Cue" is also the nickname for the "Character and Emotion" class given at the Studio Theater. Maybe if I could afford the prices Studio charges I wouldn't be writing this post.

18 October 2007

I shall write to the Times!

The Derbyshire Times in this case, but it's nice to know that some of the things that Americans believe about the English actually happen. I can't help but picture "Theatregoer" writing this terse note from his club and dispatching by way of an impassive servant.

SIR — I refer to the review of Chesterfield Gilbert and Sullivan Society's production of Iolanthe (Derbyshire Times, October 4). I also attended the opening night and, in the main, would go along with most of the comments.

However, there seems to be one glaring omission, namely the part of Iolanthe played by Julie Currey.

I believe this was her first lead part which, in my opinion, she carried off superbly. No reference was made to this and I would think some encouragement and recognition would have been justified.



17 October 2007

And you read your Emily Dickinson

The moon is distant from the sea,
And yet with amber hands
She leads him, docile as a boy,
Along appointed sands.

He never misses a degree;
Obedient to her eye,
He comes just so far toward the town,
Just so far goes away.

Oh, Signor, thine the amber hand,
And mine the distant sea,-
Obedient to the least command
Thine eyes impose on me.

A little Wednesday present for David

As soon as I saw the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks, I knew I had to post a link to it. David calls them "scare quotes" and, sure enough, some of these are pretty scary.

But that's not all! There is a sidebar with links to "Other Snarks"* which includes Grammar/Syntax Errors in which the author sometimes gets so worked up about his topic, that he makes grammatical and syntactical errors.

Now what would you pay?!**

*Must use many "scare quotes" in this post.

**Rats. Not as good at "scare quotes" as I would like to be. I just couldn't work in any more. Must try harder next time.

16 October 2007

Pretty Little Things

Again, I need a soundtrack option here* because I while I really like the lyrics to this Shriekback song, it's exponentially better when you can hear the skittery percussion and pizzacato strings (and is "pizzacato strings" a redundant phrase?) under the almost falsetto vocal. Perfect for a dark, windy night in October.

Pretty Little Things

How they glisten. How they shine. I wish that they were mine
Half-good but not evil - make me feel so very fine.
Oh my, my my... so pretty I could cry
When I saw them for the first time, I thought that I would die

So pretty so pretty those pretty little things
So pretty so pretty those pretty little things

I can't stand the temptation, wanna touch but I don't know
Shiny bright and squeaky clean - pretty little things I love them so
Pretty things are kind of wicked - make my sick heart feel so glad
I'm sure that nothing so pretty could be bad...

So pretty so pretty those pretty little things
So pretty so pretty those pretty little things
So pretty so pretty those pretty little things
So pretty so pretty those pretty little things

Complicated as a flower glamorous as anything
Dangerous and evanescent - yes oh yes those pretty things
Boiling up and bubbling over warm and soft and simmering
Make me holler and sing - pretty pretty little things

So pretty so pretty those pretty little things
So pretty so pretty those pretty little things

*I mean one where you can hear the music, not just where I cite it