18 November 2009

How to fill your e-mail inbox*

1. Click the "like" button on Facebook for a friend's picture of their cute children.

Ta-da! You're done! Sit back and watch the e-mails roll in!

*I was going to call this post "How to Get More Interesting Mail" in honor of the Direct Marketing Association's booklet for people who wish to receive more rather than less junk mail. But Facebook comments aren't junk mail - they're the conversation.

17 November 2009

Just like the good old days

The best thing about playing a tiny part in a kid-dominated show is that I have lots of down time at rehearsal. So Karen and Felicity and Julie and I can gossip to our heart's content and I can work on my crocheting*. It all reminds me very much of my days in Gilbert & Sullivan choruses. No one will remember that I was in the show but I'm having a lovely time helping to put it together.

*I am making a scarf or two or three for women serving in Afghanistan, a project that my friend Pam alerted me to.

16 November 2009


No one prays more for the good health of the star than the under-rehearsed understudy.

Eat your vegetables, Anna, and wash your hands often.

15 November 2009

Table for Two

On Friday night I was supposed to meet Dave, a theater friend, for dinner at Fajita Coast. He was scheduled to see The Goat at Silver Spring and I was planning to see The Merry Wives of Windsor at my high school, a block away.

I was running a little late and my friend Laura, one of the cast members for The Goat hit little enough traffic that she decided to have a sit down rather than carry out dinner. So she went to Fajita Coast ....

(This is where that wavy screen that they had back in the old days on sit-coms to denote a flashback kicks in.)

Dave walks in a sees Laura sitting at a table. He and I see each other rarely enough that she fit his mental description for me*, so he plunked down at the table with her and said jocularly "I'll just sit here until you get a better offer. "

"I'm sorry?!"

"Augh! You're not Leta!"

"No, but I know Leta."

So when I arrived a few minutes later, they were still sharing a table, happily chatting away.

If they become friends, they'll have one of the better "meet cute" stories I can think of.

* And I quote - thin and brown haired. Delusional. Flattering, but delusional.

14 November 2009

I'm not sure I was exaggerating either

David and I were invited to a gala fundraiser recently. The kind held in Expensive Locations with Open Bars and Important Dignitaries. We would be one of three couples at a table for several couples. I don't have an official link to the organization but the very good friend who invited us does and it is a Very Worthy Organization indeed. I was honored to drink their booze, consume their food, and applaud their Dignitaries.

David is less likely to enjoy these sorts of events than I am, but he is a) a very nice man and b) also fond of the friend who invited us, so he agreed to attend.* But he's a pretty sharp cookie and observed that he thinks the major reason I accepted with such alacrity was the company we would be keeping more than anything else.

"This is just social for you, isn't it?"**

"Well, sure it is. Oh, Honey, as long as we are invited by such good folks, I'd accept an invitation to run through a hail of bullets."

* He may have had other motives, I don't know. I shall not speculate here.
** Usually the correct assumption.

13 November 2009

Like Sarah Chalke. Or Dick Sergeant. Or Brian Forster

Andy: You look different. Why do you look different?
Me: I dunno. Maybe because I'm being played by another actress?
Andy: That's very meta of you, but no.

12 November 2009

Because it's been raining a lot lately

"Fool In The Rain"
Jones, Page, Plant

Well there's a light in your eye that keeps shining
Like a star that can't wait for the night
I hate to think I've been blinded baby
Why can't I see you tonight?

And the warmth of your smile starts a-burnin'
And the thrill of your touch gives me fright
And I'm shaking so much, really yearning
Why don't you show up, make it all right?
Yeah, it's all right.

And if you promised you'd love so completely
and you said you would always be true
You swore that you would never leave me, baby:
What ever happened to you?

And you thought it was only in movies
As you wish all your dreams would come true
It ain't the first time believe me, baby
I'm standin here feeling blue
Yeah I'm blue

Now I will stand in the rain on the corner
I'll watch the people go shuffling downtown
Another ten minutes no longer
And then I'm turning around

The clock on the wall's moving slower
My heart it sinks to the ground
And the storm that I thought would blow over
Clouds the light of the love that I found

Now my body is starting to quiver
And the palms of my hands getting wet
I've got no reason to doubt you baby,
It's all a terrible mess

I'll run in the rain till I'm breathless
When I'm breathless I'll run till I drop, hey
The thoughts of a fool's kind of careless
I'm just a fool waiting on the wrong block, oh yeah
Light of the love that I found...

11 November 2009

Wearing my poppy

When I was growing up I believed that Memorial Day honored those who died in War and Veterans Day honored all service personnel. It turns out that I was mistaken.

Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day) celebrated Union soldiers and the date (last Monday in May) was chosen to match the day of reunification after the Civil War.

Veterans Day (also known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day) originally honored the veterans of the first World War. When I was in England last November, we stopped our singing and such in time for the moment of silence at 11:11 am and afterwards our host, Bob, asked if any of us had parents or grandparents who fought in that war. His father fought for England as the did the fathers and uncles of several of the people in the room.

I had landed at Heathrow a couple of days before and as I was going through the airport with Carol and Claire and Mariel, I saw a box labeled "Poppy Appeal". Ignorant American that I am, I asked what it was and what it meant. I was told that the Poppy Appeal which offers little paper poppies in exchange for donations, supports the Royal British Legion, the nation's leading Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present.

I asked if a pound was enough (oh, any amount is fine, luv), put my pound in the tin, and took a poppy. I put it through the button hole of my sweater and was severely grateful that I had learned this before I had needed any kind of assistance, as I had assumed that the many people wearing poppies were airport personnel of some kind.

I made sure to wear it that Sunday and also made sure to put it where I wouldn't lose it when I got home.

A couple of months later, I was at the James Lee Community Center for an audition or a rehearsal or something and was chatting with a friend who works there. I noticed a box of poppies on the counter and asked about them. It seems that the American Legion also uses poppies to raise money for the support of veterans.

So now I have two poppies and this week I have worn my British poppy on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday for Remembrance Day and will wear my American poppy today, tomorrow and Friday for Veterans Day. My Boss saw my English poppy on Monday and today is wearing the one that he got on a recent trip to London. My other boss has not been able to find a poppy anywhere locally, so I have lent him my English one. And the three of us are explaining our poppies to the many people who ask about the paper flowers we are wearing.

Why poppies? Because many of the fallen in World War I were buried in Flanders Field in Belgium where poppies grow like poppies.

To all who served my country or their own, including my father and grandfathers, my thanks. Thank you for your service.

10 November 2009

A Bright Side

When Mom moved to Very Assisted Living boxes and boxes of her papers came to me. I am packrat but Mom is even more of one.

The central part of my study has been filed with boxes for the past year and I'd frequently walk in there on a Saturday morning, fully intending to sort, ditch, file, and generally reduce the level of the worst Disney ride ever, Paper Mountain. I'd take one look at it, desultorily move a few items from one place to another, feel totally overwhelmed, and find something else to do. Often something really productive, like play FreeCell.

Well, with Mom running out of money, it's time to submit the paperwork for a "spend down." Mom paid a pretty steep "deposit" when she moved into the facility where she lives and now that she does not have the income to pay the $295 a day that it costs to live in VAL, they will help me organize spending down the deposit. When she runs through that and uses up all but $2,500 of her assets, they'll apply for Medi-whichever it is.

The people in the Finance office are very nice, but it turns out that they actually do need to see paperwork. Lots of paperwork. So I've been spending time in the study and because I have a goal - find X, find Y, find Z - I'm not being dissuaded by chaos and dispair.

So while it doesn't look like it to the average passer-by, the study is tidier and more organized. And I've been getting rid of things outside of the study as well.

Except for the fact that I know it's too much hope for, I'd say that maybe by the time that my nieces have to do this for me, I'll have broken the packrat habit.

09 November 2009


Night flight to San Francisco. Chase the moon across America. God! It’s been years since I was on a plane.

When we hit thirty-five thousand feet, we’ll have reached the tropopause. The great belt of calm air. As close as I’ll ever get to the ozone.

I dreamed we were there. The plane leapt the tropopause, the safe air, and attained the outer rim, the ozone, which was ragged and torn, patches of it threadbare as old cheesecloth, and that was frightening …

But I saw something only I could see, because of my astonishing ability to see such things: Souls were rising, from the earth far below, souls of the dead, of people who had perished, from famine, from war, from the plague, and they floated up, like skydivers in reverse, limbs all akimbo, wheeling and spinning. And the souls of these departed joined hands, clasped ankles and formed a web, a great net of souls, and the souls were three-atom oxygen molecules, of the stuff of ozone, and the outer rim absorbed them, and was repaired.

Nothing’s lost forever. In this world, there is a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead.

At least I think that’s so.

From Angels in America by Tony Kushner

08 November 2009

Not as cute as he thinks it is

Of all of the tricks that Pekoe has learned over the past 10 years, I think that his new one of tipping his cat box onto its side is my least favorite.

Especially when he does in the middle of the night and I find out by walking though cat litter a little while later.

07 November 2009

It also happens to be true

Living in Very Assisted Living ain't cheap. It's costing my mother $295 a day to be kept in the style to which she would have preferred not to become accustomed. $295 a day is more than her income, so we're starting the process to spend down the deposit she paid when she moved there seven years ago. When that money is (too soon) gone, the facility will help her apply for Medi-whichever.

It depresses Mom to think that she won't have anything to leave me and my neices. I've tried different ways to tell her that, while it is too bad, it's more important to take care of her than to worry about any kind of financial legacy.

Today I may have found a way to phrase it that works for her:

Mom, you worked hard all your life and saved a lot of money, which will be spent to keep you safe and comfortable. You're money should be spent on you. And knowing that you are safe and comfortable means a lot to me.

She said that was "a nice way to put it." Had Mom been more of a fan of Hemingway, she might have said "Isn't it pretty to think so," but I doubt she would have gone to far as quote Brick's "Wouldn't it be funny if that was true?" Mom's never been as much of a cynic as Mr. Williams.

06 November 2009

For my birthday

Don't take to me Nello's for a very expensive dinner. Just buy me a shiny new Passat.* Or a shiny new Eos** and a used Jetta.

*Thunder Blue, manual, sunroof.

**Salsa Red, manual, don't forget the iPod cable-thing.

05 November 2009

And that's the way it is - now

Back in the old days (when I was a child) there was the evening news, in black and white, and there were two newspapers, the Washington "Post" and the Washington " Evening Star."*

Then, in the fullness of time, there was news on the radio. Real news stories that lasted longer than a minute. Real news, not just a few headlines at the top of the hour, mixed with traffic, weather, and celebrity gossip. (Or, worse yet, the AM station that my mother liked that carried Harden and Weaver - WMAL, back then pretty Reader's Digest-y, today a ractionary sinkhole).

And how do I get my news now? From FaceBook. I learn about breaking news stories as I read about them in status updates. Then, later in the day, NPR fills in the details for me.

Lee described FaceBook as what happens in the halls between classes in high school. Apparently, it also has a PA with morning and afternoon announcements, too. Just like high school. What goes around comes around.

*Unless I was visting my grandparents, in which case there was the Plain Dealer, which was thinner and more Reader's Digest-like. I liked the "Plain Dealer."

**Today, by the way, is Morning Edition's 30th birthday. Many happy returns of the day!

***And, of course, people who follow Twitter now get their (truncated) headlines from the Twits.

04 November 2009

How to escape terrible radio

I get two stations at work - 88.5 (wamu), the local NPR station, and 107.3, the local pop and "personality DJ" station. Mostly I divide my time between the two of them, but every now and then - and more and more frequently these days - I need a break. I was reluctant to use Smudge* at work because when my boss needs me, I don't want to have to take out ear buds before I look attentive. Or miss him when he calls for me.

But then one day ... then one day ... ** then one day I realized that even though the external speaker makes the sound a little teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy bit tinny, Smudge still lacks the static of my radio and I could hear it just fine even without the ear buds.

So now when I need to avoid hearing about Virginia politics on NPR or to avoid being subjected to the biggest blowhard DJ in radio on 107.3, I grab Smudgy, chose a random song and hit "genius." Et voila!***

Sometimes I use the wi-fi network that I can get to and use Pandora. Also good. Thank you, Modern Technology!

* My name for my iPod Touch because what have I re-learned from having an iPod Touch? That human beings are greasy little animals.

** Oh crap. I cannot seem to stop quoting from Edward Albee's The Goat. That is so not fair.

*** I've done this a bunch of times, so I really should stop looking over at Smudgy as each next song comes up and thinking "Oh! I like that song." Of course, I do. It's on my iPod.

03 November 2009

She's known me a while

One of the positive things about having lunch with a friend who is taking pain killers and is a rather stresssed is that you can have exchanges like this:

Her: I've had too many people die lately so be careful.
Me: Be careful? Oh! You mean, like, crossing the street and stuff. For a minute I thought you meant "be careful not to say anything stupid and that ..."
Her: Oh yeah, that's a total crapshoot with you.

It's so nice to be understood.

02 November 2009

The bad place

I don't mind Tech Week, which some theater people call Hell Week. In fact, I rather like it. But, oh, how I hate Version Control Hell.

I went to Version Control Hell last week and just got back. Fortunately, it was really only a day trip, unlike some of the extended voyages I've been on in the past.

Upper Management is working on an important document for our company right now. And they are doing it by in-person meetings and by editing the document via our intranet site. And they forgot the most important rule: when editing the document on the intranet site, "save" don't "save as" with a new name.

So I merged the documents back into one and sent the Worthy Gentlemen* an e-mail reminding them not to "save as," but only to "save."

And I included this paraphrase: What Leta has joined together, let no Manager put asunder. **

I'm hoping that the Biblical-sounding injunction will work where "please" and "thanks!" have failed. We shall see.

* Because I work in what is still a very male-dominated field, I am still looking forward to the day when I send an e-mail to Upper Management that cannot start with the salutation "Gentlemen."

** Another reason that I really, really like my job? I ran that sentence past my Boss before I sent the e-mail and he didn't make me take it out.

01 November 2009


"At the end of every rehearsal, we have what are called "notes." If they're not about you, they're boring but if they are about you, they're important."

Amy, giving the best summary I've ever heard for the last few minutes of rehearsal.

She is directing her second show which has a large cast, 90% of which are children, many under age 6, most doing their first show. She is my hero.