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 matinĂ©e. The wedding supper was served on the stage of the Theatre Royale between the matinĂ©e 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.