Thursday, December 31, 2009

It rained yesterday, a situation that seems to throw Californians into a tizzy. However, we braved the light drizzle and drove about 40 miles to Santa Clarita, to tour the home/museum of silent film western star, William S. Hart.
The house is at the top of a high hill and we got there by going up a winding trail. The place still has buffalos and we saw two of them grazing.
Hart was an animal lover and there's a dog graveyard, as well as a memorial and grave for his favorite horse. This is the kind of thing I enjoy a lot--don't ask me why--old-time movie stars and California history.
After, we went to Ellen's shoe store, which is going out of business, and she bought three pair at half price. We then went to George's Bistro for lunch and, as it was still raining, rented movies--"The Talented Mr. Ripley" for me and "Julia and Julie" for her--and Ellen made a delicious lentil/vegetable soup, which we had for dinner. Low-key, but still a nice day.
NOTE: I was sorry to hear from director Tara that she has to cast "Steel Magnolias" before I get back, so I can't audition for a part. She asked if I'd act as understudy for the two "older women" parts, which I want to do IF that means simply covering the parts during rehearsals during an absence, which I think it does. I don't want to have to memorize just on the assumption I could be needed if somebody gets hit by a truck or something. I'm pretty sure that's not what would be required,though.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Busy, productive, and a great fun day. Mike called on the web cam in the morning and we got to see Vivian and Violet in LaJolla. I was surprised to see a large Christmas tree and other decorations in the house they're renting. In code, Mike told us they were going to Disneyland--it was a surprise.
We spent the afternoon at Ellen's school, where we prepared for the next term, starting January 11. We took down the 2009 material and added 2010 stuff (yoicks, can 2010 really be coming up so soon?); erased and replaced "whiteboard" information; sharpened pencils, copied papers, and so on. Ellen wrote her lesson plan on the computer, copied a lot of material, worked out math problems, and did the multitude of other chores every teacher knows. I helped in various small ways and enjoyed doing it. We had brought sandwiches and took a break long enough to sit out in the warm sun and have lunch. The setting is lovely, with vegetable fields all around, lush foliage heavy with flowers, and the gracious green foothills in the background.
When we finished, we decided to go see "Up In The Air." Went to the theatre, but found we had missed an earlier showing, so bought tickets for 5:00. Went to Trader Joe's, a terrific whole foods/supermarket and got supplies. I bought a bottle of "Two Buck Chuck" White Zin, an incredible $2 a bottle bargain--no wonder there are so many alcoholics in California--then we went home and had a bite before going back for the movie. Boy, I loved it. I thought it was so funny and subtle, but bittersweet, too.
Got home about 8:00, then Ellen went to the store. She got me egg nog, which I put a stick in (Mike had left us a half bottle of rum), then went happily to bed and slept like a--yes, a log.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spent yesterday running a multitude of errands, doing wash, and buying groceries. It was warm and sunny and we enjoyed downtown Ventura, then just vegged out. I confess I snoozed on the couch while Ellen prepared dinner. Discussed whether to attend the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, but probably won't. We want to go back to the Getty Museum and other places in and around L.A., but have plenty of time. Today, we'll go into Ellen's school and I'll assist in setting up her classroom for next semester.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hey, we've been having so much fun and doing so much, I've had no chance to get back on this thing. Won't go into detail--too much to tell--but will mention a few highlights:
Had a glorious, child-filled Christmas. We adults were all up to see Vivian and Violet open their presents, and what fun that was. Vivi's favorite was a Barbie guitar. Because she's preparing for a career as a rock star, it's essential equipment, and boy, is it loud. Of course, Vivi is pretty loud herself, full of exuberance and 5-year-old assurance that all good things will come to her in life. May it be so. Violet repeated her appreciative comment of "Ba-ba" several times and loved playing with her new toys. Had the leftover turkey and ham for various meals; it was a good idea to have the big meal on Christmas Eve, and relax a bit more on The Day. In the afternoon, I know we went somewhere, but just can't remember if it was into Truckee or if that was another day. Anyway, loved it. We dismantled the tree in the evening, and got everything packed up. Mike sent most of the snow gear back to Singapore, as they were headed to San Diego to visit Paula's father.
El and I left about noon. It was enthralling to be in the deep snow of the Sierra Nevada mountains--the high Sierras*--for days and then, seemingly in the blink of an eye, back into mild weather. We got to brother Frank's in the late afternoon and had a great time visiting. Their daughters, Maureen and Francine, came over to see us, along with M.'s two little ones, and one of Francine's three boys. What a nice visit we had! Colleen Marybeth made pizza, of all things, for dinner, and we also had her fabulous soda bread, made from scratch, of course. Talked and talked, enjoyed some Chardonnay with MB, then turned in and slept like a log. After a big breakfast, we left about 9:00 am, with thanks to a dear brother and SIL whom we're always glad to see.
Made good time down from Alameda in the San Francisco area, then Ellen pointed out that we weren't far from Hearst Castle, so why didn't we go? Great idea, and we did!
I've been there several times before, but never get tired of it. As ever, it was enthralling to see the place where the rich--the really, really, incredibly rich--frolicked. I'm not saying I think it's right or fair or good that some have so much, while others have so little, but I love the place and want to move in.
It was after five before we left and we had the long ride home, but it went okay. We stopped at Andersen's for their famous pea soup, which I enjoyed, although the service was mediocre. Got back to El's after 10:00, and am so glad to be here, relaxed and happy, continuing a fabulous vacation, lucky me.
Don't know when I'll get back to this--so much going on and it's so absorbing and I'm having so much fun, I may just play hooky and neglect the damn blog again. Will play it by ear.
*The high Sierras! How romantic and mysterious and fascinating those words are. I didn't attempt to describe the soaring beauty of those snow-covered mountains around Truckee and Lake Tahoe because I don't have the skill. Nobody does--they just have to be seen.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Last night, the Christmas tree suddenly fell over. Not sure why, as no one was near it, but we righted it, swept up the smashed balls, and reattached the ornaments. Mike tied it up, so it won't happen again. Later, we put on the top the angel which has graced our Christmas tree for a full half-century. She's now only a ceramic head, with an improvised body of a cardboard tube and one of my silk scarves, but she's up there, having traveled all the way from Jersey, and she looks great.
The sleigh ride was just wonderful. Our driver was Katie, a Lake Tahoe native and expert skier, and our horse was Chance, who can pull two and a half times his weight and has been hauling sleigh-riders for 15 years.
It was great fun. Vivian rode in the front with Katie and the rest of us in the back with thick blankets over us. It was a very cold, but beautiful day--blue skies with hardly a cloud in it and brilliant sunshine. We stopped and got hot chocolate first, then piled in the sleigh and were transported around a flat area, singing "Jingle Bells" and lots of other holiday favorites. It was one of the most fun times of all.
We then went home and Paula put in a luscious turkey breast and a big, spiral-sliced ham. We left those to cook and Vicky stayed in with napping Viole while the rest of us went to the Donner museum. It's only a few miles away and commemorates the tragic story of the participants who were forced-to-cannibalize their fellow travelers during the harsh winter.
Went home to a delicious dinner and roaring fires. It's Christmas Eve and we're ready for Santa!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

First time I've been able to get on the computer, and this will be short. Ellen and I stayed over in Sacramento, then arrived in Lake Tahoe yesterday at noon. The house Mike rented is gorgeous, very large, with three fireplaces, made mostly of wood and stone, beautifully furnished in the craftsman style, and with all kinds of luxury touches. The setting is, of course, overwhelming, considering the tons of snow, the mountains, and the trees.
Had a terrific time yesterday making cookies, then making pretend cookies as decorations for the Christmas tree, then decorating the tree--all with the active participation of Mike, Paula, Vickie, and Vivian, and the interested gaze of one-year-old Violet.
Today, we all went into town--Truckee, that is--and roamed the shops. It's something like a New Hope North, with lots of little cutesy merchandise, in this case, heavily north woods/timber wolf type. Came home for lunch--Paula made pizza NOT from a box--and we then went to Squaw Valley for a dog sled ride.
Ye-s-s, a dog sled ride. Mike conceived the notion that it would be fun and we went along. We left Violet with nanny Vickie--it's good to have a nanny--and took Vivian. Unfortunately, the dogs were already booked, so we couldn't go. However, there was a skating rink there, under the towering mountains and huge pines--and Mike took Vivi ice skating there.
Now, this five-year-old had never been on ice skates before and wow, is she a natural. She fell down a lot, of course, but she persisted and made it across and around the rink innumerable times. It was fun for the rest of us, too, watching them and taking pictures.
Tomorrow, all seven of us will go to the same place for a horse-drawn sleigh ride on Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Well, today's the day--my actual (UGH!) birthday. I got e-cards from dear friends Lynne C. and Pat and Rich R., as well as neighbors, Judy and Roman. Also received birthday wishes from lots of family and friends on Facebook.
I'm not too happy to have arrived at the advanced age of 57 (oh, geez, what a lie; I'd LOVE to be 57!) or rather, at my present stage of decrepitude, but at least I'm healthy and in fairly good shape.
Yesterday, Mike picked up our little house guest, Vivian, and they all left for Tahoe. Ellen and I then we prepared for the trip, on which we'll embark this morning. Did wash, went to stores, and packed. El made me an excellent dinner of pasta and meatballs and I went to bed early. Had a curious dream about my good friend, Elaine M., who died 6 years ago. Won't describe it--there's nothing more boring than other people's dreams, unless it's a description of the T.V. show they saw last night--but I felt a slight melancholy when I woke up.
Called brother Frank in Alameda and we'll stop there on our way back home. Mike called Ellen after I went to bed and said snow "showers" were expected, so we'll stop overnight on our way. Heard from A. via e-mail--they had 18 inches of snow in Jersey, for heaven's sake, so we have nothing on them! I understand that Virginia, where my brother Jim lives, had the most snow recorded there--not sure how much.
At 7:10 am, Frank and Marybeth called to sing me the happy birthday song. Got birthday wishes from A., too, and lots of others.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Had a great, wonderful birthday party yesterday, thanks to Ellen! Mike, Paula, Vivian, Violet, and Vickie came first, followed by my twin Betty, and her Carolyn, Dana, Finn, and Claire. A little later, Betty's son, Steve, his wife Robyn, and their Dexter blew in from Pasadena, and we were all there.
What a ball we had. The five children ranged in age from Finn, at 8 1/2 to little Violet, 17 months, and they loved playing together, scattering toys from one end of the house to another. We adults chatted, drank beer, and talked and laughed for an hour or so, then had lunch. Ellen had gotten a sandwich tray and the others contributed light and dark beer, Mediteranian potato salad, and bow-tie pasta. Ellen then unveiled a big, scrumptious cake with whipped cream icing and lacy chocolate decorations and a white chocolate banner that spelled out "Happy Birthday, Mimi (my childhood nickname) and Betty" in dark chocolate.
It was then present-opening time and what wonderful ones. I got a kind of short poncho (which I kept me nice and warm later in the evening), a scarf that can be worn in several different ways, a traveling bag, several books, and two pairs of slippers, along with a puffy robe (thanks, Ellen!), and lots of other great gifts.
After that, most of us took the children next door to a small playground, where they ran, jumped, and shrieked to their hearts' content. When we came back in, Patrick and Natsue were on the web cam talking to Ellen and Betty, and I was happy to see them.
The company left about 5:00, aside from little Vivian, who stayed over. What a time we had with her! We went to the "Boat Festival of Lights" at the Ventura Seaport and saw dozens of small boats, all bedecked with sparkling lights and happy music. The place was thronged with people and there was a traveling carnival; we let Vivian take a rider on a "space ship," then went to a Korean resturant for dinner. This proved to be an annoying interlude, as every aspect of the service was so slow, but there's no sense in recounting it. Enough to say that Ellen asked for a discount and they gave us 30% off.
After watching the rest of the boats go back and enjoying a fireworks display, we went home where Ellen gave Vivian a bath and we got her to bed. Soon after, I turned in--exhausted, but so happy and grateful for a wonderful day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

While El was a school yesterday--her last day before the Christmas break--I cleaned up her patio. When she got home, we worked on it together and it looks so nice. It was a wonderful, sunny day--72 degrees--and I enjoyed it, especially after learning about the blizzard expected on the east coast. Later, we went to her school district staff party at the Oxnard home of the principal of the other school. It was a lot of fun meeting and chatting with her colleagues and we both had a good time.
My cold had been improving, but unfortunately, I woke up this morning with a bad sore throat. It feels as if it's swollen and hurts everytime I swallow. Darn! Today, Mike and his family and Betty and her family are coming over to celebrate our birthday--well, I hope it improves.

Friday, December 18, 2009

After I got back to Ventura yesterday, I more or less vegged out until Ellen got home: lay on the couch and read. We decided--surprise!--to go out to eat, so went to Marie Callender's for a mediocre dinner and good, good talk. Stopped at stores to stock up on supplies and order a sandwich tray for the birthday party on Saturday, then went home. I felt wonderful after a shower and we watched an old "Twilight Zone" with Orson Bean and Henry Jones, two actors who used to work all the time. Mike called to discuss plans for the party; he said Vivian can stay overnight with us then. I went happily to bed and slept well, although my cold is still active.
Now here's a funny--and intriguing--happenstance: I got up a little later than usual a short time ago at 6:30 and as I was about to go downstairs, my cell phone rang. It was Mary Ellen M., one of my acting company buddies, thinking I was still in Jersey, where it would be 9:30 am. She was calling to ask why I hadn't auditioned for "Steel Magnolias" the other day. Of course, I was already here, so couldn't, but she urged me to contact the director, Tara, to tell her I'm interested. I definitely am and asked ME to give me Tara's number and she will.
Hmm...now I'm hoping this isn't simply ME's idea. I had e-mailed Tara to tell her I'd be gone from December 13, so couldn't be at the open board meeting. I assume she'd gotten the message and would surmise I couldn't audition either, but I don't know that for sure. AND, more important, I don't know if it would be bold and presumptous of me to do this, either. Mulling it over...mulling it over...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good fun yesterday: After Ellen went to school,sister Betty picked me up and drove me back to Santa Barbara. We spent most of the day at Mike's SB "cottage" and the kids' park, along with Carolyn and her Finn, 8, and Claire, 3 and, of course, Vivian and Violet. I stayed over at Betty's and we had a great sisterly time together, enjoying Chinese at a restaurant full of red, gold, lavish drapes, and high prices. It looked like what I think of as a brothel, but having never seen one, I may be wrong.
Only drawback was that I've caught the cold that both Ellen and Paula have; have a bad sore throat. Decided I won't go to Finn's holiday show tonight and I'm pretty sure Ellen won't want to, either. She probably has had enough of elementary school.
Today, I left Betty at her place to do some paperwork and met Mike and entourage in SB business district. We had a fine time strolling on a beautiful sunny day in this stunningly beautiful city. Paula bought some clothes for the little girls and I got a new memory card for my camera. We then parted and Betty picked me up. We had lunch at a terrific place called "Harry's," then she drove me home and here I am, waiting for Ellen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ellen left for work and Mike picked me up at 9:00 and took me to Santa Barbara to their "cottage." I's large and very attractive, with 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, a hot tub, and exotic plantings all around. Beautifully decorated, it has two fireplaces and a well-designed kitchen, with all mod cons, as the classified used to say.
As soon as I walked in, that human dynamo, 5-year-old Vivian, threw herself in my arms shouting, "Nana, my Nana!" What energy and what a personality--Vivian is so active and talkative and creative and fun! I'm always charmed by the fact that she has a distinctive accent--hard to place, but it seems to be a kind of British/Indian hybrid.
After we chatted for a time, Mike and Paula went to the supermarket and I chatted with nanny Vicky and got acquainted with "the other one," my younger adorable granddaughter. What a little doll. Violet is 17 months old and I think may have a more sedate personality than her big sister. I was surprised that she talks as well as she does: One by one, she handled me some little tiles she had been playing with and I said "thank you." Each time, she responded with the same phrase--a little garbled, but clearly "you're welcome."
We had lunch, then Mike, Vivian, and I went to the park, where V. ran off some--but certainly not all--of her excess energy. We then drove to Ellen's and all had a snack, then to E.'s school for the holiday recital.
We spent the first half hour in E.'s third-grade classroom and enjoyed being introduced to her students. We then saw the recital, which was very similar to those in which my own children participated. Went after to a Mexican restaurant for a late dinner. I had a lobster burrito and a Corona with lime--yum!
Home then and I soon went to bed. My arms have improved a lot and not longer itch, but are still slightly swollen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yo mama! Having a fine time in the Land of the Locusts. A. took me to Philly in the driving rain. Flight was okay--I had my drugs, also managed to enjoy a beer on the plane. My darling d., Ellen, met me at LAX and took me to dinner at a vegetarian restaurant (this time I had Belgian beer). Got to El's place without incident, and I slept like a log.
Ellen's place looks great. She got new furniture and carpeting, and fresh paint since I was here last and boy, is it attractive.
El went to work and I took the bus to the shopping center. Called Betty from the Barnes & Noble and she drove over to meet me. We went shopping, then to lunch at Marie Callender's. She then dropped me off and I hung around until Ellen got home. Went to Powerful Pasta (or whatever it's called) and I had angel hair with oil and garlic, and--oh, all right, another beer. I'm always astounded at the number of places that sell booze in California--drug stores, supermarkets, the corner grocery, and, for all I know, kiddie lemonade stands.
Mike called while we were having dinner. He and entourage got into Santa Barbara about 3:00 and he'll call me today about 10:00 to make plans.
The only thing not such wonderful fun is the fact that I suddenly developed an almost unbearable itching in both hands extending halfway up to my elbows. I scratched furiously and now both areas are very noticably swollen and inflamed-. Ellen took me to an urgent care facility, but they wouldn't take my insurance. We were directed to a clinic in Oxnard which, accordng to the receptionist at the first place, will take it. Drove over there, but couldn't find the place and I decided I'd skip it and see what happens. The itching stopped finally stopped or at least, lessened considerably, and I slept well. However, the areas are still just as swollen, red, and tender. Will wait and see if the mysterious malady improves.
Maybe I'm just allergic to so much fun?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Today's the day--yay!
Spent most of yesterday washing and packing. P. and N. called in the morning and were expecting to see the Singapore contingent today. Frank helped me carry the porch furniture into the garage and I ran some last minute errands. A. called to invite me up to decorate their tree and for dinner and I happily accepted. Got there about 4:00 as they were cutting and chopping trees, "chipping" them, and clearing out brush from their large backyard.
As it turned out, A. hadn't gotten the decorations down yet--just as well, as I didn't want to be out too late, although I was sorry I didnt' get to see the little boys. We had a wonderful dinner of puttenesco (I'm sure that's mispelled, but I bet Blogspot doesn't know it, either). A. sauteed shrimp, onions, capers, and diced tomatoes for the sauce, poured it over pasta, and it was delcious. Got home by 7:30 and went to bed even earlier than usual.
Caliornia, here I come!
JUST AN ASIDE: This from a good blog I just discovered called "The Regressive":
"An adolescent asked Mozart how to compose symphonies. Mozart said that because the lad was so young, perhaps he should begin composing ballads. "But," the young man objected, "you wrote symphonies when you were only 10 years old." Mozart replied: "But I didn't have to ask how."
That story may be apocryphal, but it's truer than true. It contains within it the idea, all too prevalent today, it seems, that you can just find some formula to accomplish art or anything else. But so often, you can't--the genius is there or not there and it can't be faked.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Busy day yesterday, which included much fun and some sadness. Barb H., her sister, Pat G., and yet another Pat--H.--and I went to lunch at Debra's Dream Cafe in the Tuckerton Emporium, then to the Tuckerton Christmas Tour, as we've done for the past several years. Susan and her daughter and granddaughter joined us for lunch, but skipped the tour.
We had a great time, as we always do, and the tour included houses decorated in various ways. One featured copious amounts of purple and silver--pretty, but you'd swear you were in Macy's window--another a Victorian theme. In that one, the homeowner had in her bedroom a mannekin wearing the woman's own Victorian-style wedding gown. We were taken aback to learn she kept it there all the time--bizarre! (And scary, if you ask me.) Some houses seemed very much over-decorated--guess I go for the more subtle--but they were all fun to see.
Got home about 4:30 and I immediately changed, then walked around the corner to Mary Ann Van O.'s. I had just been told that her Bart had died Thursday; he had had COPD, as Pat did, and had been on hospice. We hugged and cried, then talked quietly. Her daughter, SIL, and three grandchildren were there and Mary Ann insisted I stay for dinner, which I did. Neighbors had brought over salad and pasta, and with Italian bread and a nice wine, we had a good dinner.
Today, I have a slew of errands and chores to do, as tomorrow's the big day. Can't wait to see Ellen, Mike, and the rest of them.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Doris H., who lives a block from me, took me to lunch yesterday. She has COPD and I was pleased to give her those of Pat's medication that she could use. Being with someone with a portable oxygen machine was all too familiar with me. However, she's much less infirm than Pat was at the end--could walk fairly briskly into the restaurant and so on. Had a nice time. I took half my Caesar salad home for dinner, then prepared to go to EuroColor for my hair. Got color and a trim. Gave my hairdresser (geez, that sounds like, "my valet" or "my maid"!), Eileen, a card with cash. I never thought I'd see the day I'd spend so much on my hair, but it looks so good, it's worth it. Eileen, who was a makeup artist for actors, told me about "Sherlock Holmes Week" in Cape May and asked if I might like to go with her. This isn't until March and I accepted with enthusiasm. I'll see her professionally before then, anyway.
Going on the Tuckerton Christmas Tour today with Barb H., Pat G., and Susan.
WIDER: The admirable Justin Raimondo, in "The Afghan Experiment" on Anti-War.Com writes that, in view of Obama's "Peace" Prize, we've been knocked into an "alternate universe":
"According to my theory – which I think has since been proved many times over – the sheer force of those planes ploughing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon knocked the very structure of the space-time continuum off-kilter. This momentous shift plunged us into an alternate universe – Bizarro World – where up is down, war is peace, and soldiers deployed in the service of "regional peacekeeping" – such as Obama’s Afghan escalation – are "wagers of peace," as the President put it in his Nobel speech."
Yes, indeed--and see my entry of December 8 below on "General Edgeways" remarks in "It Can't Happen Here," which include:
"For the first time in all history, a great nation must go on arming itself more and more, not for conquest--not for jealousy--not for war--but for peace...."
Bizarro World is right, Justin.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What a terrific, wonderful evening! Susan had invited me to dinner a few weeks ago, and asked me to come at 6:30. The thought crossed my mind at the time that it seemed a little late--in this community, that is--but I mentally shrugged and got there promptly at that time. I could see through the window that the other guests seemed to be there already and when I walked in--
SURPRISE! It was a birthday party for me! Since I'll be in California on the twenty-first, Susan had arranged the party in my honor for last night and, oh, it was delightful from beginning to end. My dearest friends on the street were there: the hosts, Susan and Walter, Dennis and Leslie, and the two Barbara's with their Frank and Ray. Judy and Roman were there, too, along with Anne Mary, whom I was happy to see.
After plenty of wine and delicious appetizers, dinner was served buffet style and oh, was it good. I was told to sit in the place of honor at the head of the table, the chair bedecked with three birthday balloons. Dinner was scrumptious and included ham, double-stuffed sweet potatoes, string bean casserole, potato salad, rolls, and other sides. For dessert, there was a beautiful cake--"Happy Birthday, Rosemary"--and everybody sang the birthday song. In addition, Barbara brought two "fluffs"--pumpkin and pineapple--and somebody had made a key lime pie.
After that? Presents! I got a necklace, a pair of Alpine gloves, a Scrabble dictionary, a gift card for Borders, and from the D.'s, a large bottle of White Zin and several packets of popcorn--yay!
Well, it was just a wonderful evening. Didn't break up until almost 11:00, when everybody went happily home--across the street or two doors down for all of us. How lucky, how very lucky I am to have landed here. It's almost impossible to believe I didn't know any of these people, now so dear to me, just 7 years ago. And, in addition, of course, I've been favored with the best family imaginable.
All those I love and cherish are related to me, either by blood or by warm fellow feeling--and I couldn't be happier about it.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Had a good time at the Scrabble group, which was at Julie's. Other than that, wrapped a few more presents and got into my pre-trip mode: sheer terror. Have a doctor's appointment today to discuss my blood pressure and will ask her for a new prescription for Antivan. I actually have some leftover pills--one vial is from eight years ago, but so what?--but want to be sure it's "active" or whatever. Tonight is Susan's dinner party and after that, I'd better get serious about packing for California.
WIDER: Here's a bit a Chris Floyd's latest in his "Empire Burlesque" blog:
"...only an idiot could actually believe (the rationales for U.S. agression). And while our leaders may be moral nullities, they are not idiots. Therefore it is clear beyond all doubt and argument that the stated purposes for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are deliberate, knowing, well-considered lies. Thus all the earnest debates and commentaries on the relative efficacy of various policies aimed at achieving these completely specious goals are pointless. In the end, such diversionary "debates" only serve the causes of war, domination, profiteering and elite power that are, in the end, the only true goals of these campaigns."
Well said, as all Chris' posts are. Best to read the whole entry, though, as there's much more:
http://www.chris-floyd.com/

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Got the car inspected, then went to Target and got a few more gifts. Spent most of the rest of the day packing and trying to decide what else I have to do to get ready for my trip. Scrabble group today.
WIDER: I've been reading "They Thought They Were Free," a fascinating book by Martin Mayer, first published in the early fifties. It's about the rise of Nazism in Germany and is eerily similar to what's going on in the U.S. now. (Oh,I know about Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here"--but, of course, it can. I want to read that next.) Mayer interviews a group of "little men," not the movers and shakers who brought about war and genocide, but ordinary citizens. Their lack of understanding of the true nature of their government (and, notably, of Hitler) and their acceptance of its horrors are mirrored, I'm afraid, in our own society today. Will write on this after I finish the book.
Speaking of "It Can't Happen Here," I just looked that up. On the second or third page, there's a speech by a "General Edgeways" that, incredibly, includes language so similar to Obama's recent "escalation speech," you'd swear Lewis came back from the grave. Here's an excerpt:
". . for these United States, alone among the great powers, have no desire for foreign conquest. Our highest ambition is to be darned well let alone!...But, as I explained to you, we must be prepared to defend our shores against all the alien gangs of international racketeers that call themselves 'governments,' and that with such feverish envy are always eyeing our inexhaustible mines, our towering forests, our titanic and luxurious cities, our fair and far-flung fields...For the first time in all history, a great nation must go on arming itself more and more, not for conquest--not for jealousy--not for war--but for peace...."
Got it, general: War is peace! New boss just like the old boss....

Monday, December 07, 2009

Went to the cemetery, then back to Macy's to bring one of my purchases back. Aside from that, was pleased with myself by finally shaping up and getting some presents wrapped, as well as turning my attention to some financial stuff. Adorable Vivian called on Skype, but something's wrong with it and it kept going off after about 30 seconds. Same thing happened when Ellen tried last night. We finally just talked on the phone. Want to get the car inspected today.
WIDER: Well, this is just incredibe! It seems there is no firm timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan! Hard to believe that our Dear Leader would--well, mislead us, but maybe this will clarify:
http://news.antiwar.com/2009/12/06/officials-downplay-insincere-2011-afghan-timetable/

Sunday, December 06, 2009

It rained all day--bummer. Went to Boscov's and got some Christmas presents. Other than that, not much. Maybe I'll add to this later--.
WIDER: On Anti-War.com, William Lind writes about a new bumper sticker: O=W. It's catching on rapidly, especially among true conservatives, and no wonder. He goes on to observe that O.'s surrender to the military that now seems to rule us "...should not come as a surprise. America is now a one-party state. The one party is the Establishment party, which is also the war party. Unless you are willing to cheer permanent war for permanent peace, you cannot be a member of the Establishment."
So true. And there seems to be a general, overall feeling of helplessness when it comes to trying to combat the murderous ways of our rulers. They do not listen to the people. They make noises in protest at this latest escalation, but they will vote--oh, so reluctantly and with bowed heads--to fund it. They can do this with impunity because they will say they must, as otherwise they are leaving the beloved troops with no protection from the enemy, throwing them to the wolves, so to speak. There isn't a politician alive who won't weep tears of love and pride at the belovedness of the troops and how they're in harm's way and how it isn't their fault they were suddenly whisked away to kill people in other countries, so therefore it's the politician's patriotic duty to fund the carnage.
Ho-hum, what else is new?
WIDER # 2: What else is new (to me, that is) is a web site Arthur Silber mentioned--Reclusive Leftist--by "Violet Socks" and it's hot. Violet talks about the staging of presidental performances, including O.'s recent show re the escalation:
--Why do we still go through this pretense of voting? We should just hold auditions. The government is the same; the foreign policy is the same. The military-industrial complex trundles along as ever, forging the path of Empire. The only difference is who’s on TV. Flight suit or sober business attire? Weighty tomes or fresh-faced cadets?--
Boy, is she cynical. And right on the money.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Went to Macy's and picked up some Christmas presents. Stopped at Santori's after to stock up on veggies. Drove to Wal-Mart to exchanged one CD player for another. Finished "The Lovely Bones" and started reading Augustan Burroughs' "Possible Side Effects." It's a lousy book, but I'm on a Burroughs kick, having just finished "Running With Scissors," which I've read before.
It felt like a busy day, but I'll be darned if I got much accomplished. However, I guess I don't have to "accomplish" anything, so that's okay.
LATER: Back from Weight Watchers and I'm afraid my inexorable gain is continuing. I'm up .6, so am at 143.2, with a total weight loss of 56.4 pounds. I attribute that to this weeks' two dinner parties--mine and the L.'s--although I may be kidding myself. What's looming ahead is almost a solid week of more dinners and lunches, then California. Gotta buckle down, buckle up, or buckle sideways to end this thing...

Friday, December 04, 2009

What a delightful party last night at the L.'s! Got there at 4:00--theirs are always early, which I appreciate--and was greeted outside by Danny S., who asked me how Pat was doing. I was surprised he didn't know and he was embarrassed when I told him Pat had died in August, but I reassured him I wasn't upset at the question. His Kate wasn't able to be there because she recently fell and broke her pelvis; she also suffers from depression.
The others arrived shortly: Barbara and Frank, Don and Noreen, Rita, and Audrey. The L.'s had again hired Joe M. (a Holy Spirit attendee himself)to play the keyboard, which he did throughout the evening. Unfortunately, the music was too loud for us to talk comfortably and we had to raise our voices. I guess nobody thought it was up to them to request he play more softly, but we managed to talk and talk anyway.
Dinner included both turkey and pork, plus butternut squash, rolls, smashed 'taters, cranberry sauce, and so on. Noreen made a scrumptious cheesecake and there was frozen tira masu, too.
After, we had fun drawing numbers and choosing the $5 gifts we had each brought. The idea is that anybody after number one can exchange what he or she has for something from a lower number. It was a lot of fun.
Everybody left shortly after 8, which suits me better (and others in my age group, I'm pretty sure) than gatherings that go on later. Got home before 9:00, relaxed for a time with another glass of wine and went happily to bed.
We started being invited to the L.'s Christmas party 7 or 8 years ago. Pat was relatively well then, and we always attended. The last three gatherings, though, he was unable to go and I went by myself. With one exception, all the others are Pat's, not my, age and it shows. They are slowing down or even, like Kate, slipping away, I think. Each year, some are gone for good (now there are three widows in the group) and several have suffered bouts of cancer or heart disease.
But last night was great fun. I always think of the L.'s party as the kick-off to the Christmas season and am glad to be included.
WIDER: Here's the bubbly truth in a nutshell:
http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/war_and_peace_20091203/

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Went to Peterson's Monuments in Egg Harbor City and told them what I want on Pat's tombstone. Come to think of it, it's my tombstone, too. I guess that should have been a melancholy task, but it wasn't. I'm anxious to have it done, as I want to plant flowers on the grave, and so on. (Why? I don't know. I only know I need to do that.) I was told it would take up to three months before it's in place. Well, no matter, I guess we have plenty of time--eternity, that is.
Other than that, I just cleaned up after the party. Got a call from Mary Ellen, saying she was sorry she missed it. I also got a note from her; wrote her an e-mail back. Called Joe and Flo, whose annual Christmas party I'm attending tonight. Offered to bring leftover cheese and crackers, plus the cranberry wine Ellen gave me and they accepted. A. came at my request to get my big suitcase from the attic; must start packing for my trip. I gave her a lot of what was left from my dinner party for her and Mike's dinner. I hate to waste food and was glad she could use it.
I woke up (at 4:45, a half hour ago) to extremely high winds. I'm glad I took the cushions off the porch and hope the wicker furniture is still there.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It turned out to be a lovely evening and nice little dinner party. Unfortunately, Mary Ellen called about 3:00 to say she had a sore throat (no doubt caught from one of the pre-schoolers she teaches), so there were just five of us. That was okay, though, and everything turned out delicious. For appetizers, I had cheese and crackers, grapes, sliced avocado, mixed nuts, and a terrific "roll" of cheese and prosciutto. We sat down for dinner about 6:30. The pork tenderloin was very good and along with it, I served homemade applesauce, butternut squash, corn (to which I added sauteed mushrooms, sweet pepper, and onions), the banana bread A. had given me, mixed olives, and a few other sides. I poured the the Merlot Desi brought and can't wait to try the cranberry wine from Ellen. I made cranberry apple crisp for dessert and whipped cream with it--boy, was that good. Along with coffee, we tried the grappe--an Italian after-dinner drink Mike had brought me. After one swallow, we all agreed it was an acquired taste--read "repulsive"--but had a lot of laughs over it.
Anyway, nice evening. My company left about 9:00 and I stayed up long enough to wash the things that have to be done by hand. Still have things to complete, but generally, got it done.
It was good to entertain again, although there's no question it's a lot of work. Now I'm looking forward to California, as well as other holiday gatherings, the first at the L.'s tomorrow.
WIDER: Oh, yes, O. will send more cannon fodder to kill and be killed. And yes, the "reactions" are just as Arthur Silber predicted (see yesterday's post). He must have a crystal ball, otherwise, how could he possibly have known how the monsters who "lead" us wuuld react? Oh, just from observation, readings from past and present, and thought? Could the representatives of mass media try that combination? Could the general population?
Fat chance.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Picked up a few last-minute items at Acme and finished cleaning up. Now I just have to do the cooking for my little dinner party tonight.
I was absolutely determined not to rush the season by decorating so early for Christmas, but that resolution, like my New Year ones, I'm afraid, went by the boards. I love pointsettias and, as noted earlier, succumbed to four small ones from Shop-Rite. Well, yesterday I saw beautiful large pointsettias in my favorite brilliant red for five bucks at Acme. Could I resist? Didn't even try. The plant Mike gave Pat in early August had finally given up the ghost, so now a pointsettia is gracing the foyer.
That done, I thought it wouldn't hurt to go a little further. I removed the little girl scarecrow and pumpkins from around the tree the front, hung a Christmas wreath on the front door, and put my flickering "candles" in the windows. Thought it needed a bit more, so now my soft Santas are reclining on the wicker on the porch.
AAGH! I decorated for Chistmas! And in November! After I swore I wouldn't!
I have no character, that's all.
WIDER: You don't have to listen to the POTUS tonight. The awesome Arthur Silber, as ever, has encapsulated what O. is going to say--only O. is going to say it in several thousand words with an earnest, forthright, but thoughtful mien and a solemn nod first to the almighty. Here's the word according to Arthur:
"As I've said before about Iraq, and this is also true of Afghanistan: We. Are. Not. Leaving."
There's a lot more at his http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/, all profoundly well-thought-out, simple, and true. I wish Aruthur's writings would be taught in every classroom in the country as an antidote to the lies from our "leaders" that kids are fed from Kindergarten on.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Scrubbed the kitchen floor, went to B.J.'s and Shop-Rite (again) to pick up a few more things for Tuesday. Think I'll made an apple crisp for dessert. Talked to sister Betty, brother Larry, Mike and his adorable little girls (Violet said, "Hi!"), and my adorable little girl, Ellen.
Funny family story: My cousin, John, who's into genealogy, researches often at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Philadelphia, where a lot of our ancestors are buried. He discovered that a cousin of my father's (and his father's, as they were brothers), was killed during WW II and was interred there in 1948. What's incredible is that, according to cemetery records, THE HAND of somebody named Edward Werner is buried in the same plot! Why? Who is Edward Werner? What were the circumstances of the hand loss? To add to the mystery, it seems the Werners (there's a Frederick C., also) and several members of the Byrne family all lived at the same address in Philadelphia. Intriguing, no?
WIDER (Since Blogspot won't let me use the bold key anymore, I'll just put it in caps.) The NYTimes (sorry, it won't let me use italics, either) carried some interesting stories today. One was on the troubles of families who are drowning in medical debt. A young couple with a baby, for instance, may be forced declare bankruptcy and lose their home; they suffered injuries simultaneously. Get this: they pay $840 a month--that's more than $10,000 a year--for health insurance AND have a $4000 deductible! Insanity.
Second story: The O.'s had a fancy state dinner for the Indian head of state. Some of the guests--gussied up and showing all their teeth, of course--were pictured and they included Katie Couric. I don't know how many other "news" anchors were there--or regularly attend these affairs--but wouldn't be surprised if there were plenty.
My point? When members of the mainstream media rub reverent elbows with scum-of-the-earth politicians at dinner parties and other social events, how likely is it that they're going to demand answers to the really important questions? No, I don't mean what papers Sarah Palin reads, that's not important. I mean things like, "Do you have any idea of the number of children killed and maimed because of your decisions, Mr. President?" Or, "Senator, what percentage of your income is from the health care industry?"
May they choke on the foie gras.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Continued preparing for my little dinner party. Finished cleaning the bathrooms and went to B.J.'s and Acme to start picking up suppplies. I decided to have pork roast, white (baked) and sweet potatoes, corn, and a few other sides, with apple crisp--maybe--for dessert. Spoke to Ellen V., one of the guests and e-mail the others telling them to come about 5:30, figuring we'd eat an hour later. Barb said she'd bring cheese and crackers for appetizers; asked Ellen to bring a green vegetable.
I was disappointed to learn auditions for "Steel Magnolias" are on December 14 and 15when I'll be in California. Oh, well, I hadn't decided whether to read for it or not; now the decision has been made for me.
I cut out from the paper and hung on the refrig this quote: "It's never to late to be what you always wanted to be." Yes!
Wider: John Letman, in The Nation, reports on "Career Day" at his 5-year-old's kindergarten class and the soldiers in uniform who inform the children that they "only kill bad people." Oh, it's horrifying, all right--but they have to start bending minds when they're very young. Letman ends with
"Whether you find the Army National Guard visiting kindergarteners utterly disturbing or perfectly normal, each of us needs to ask ourselves, in an era when our government spends trillions of dollars supporting wars with no end in sight, at a time when we can't even fund our schools or public services at a minimum standard and only begrudgingly support health care reform, what kind of society and future are we building for our children?"
Amen.
NOTE: Blogger has suddenly and arbitrarily changed the "new post" and "edit" function in annoying ways. I can't seem to use the "bold" key, for one thing, and there are others. Hope it switches back soon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Instead of going home when I got up at A.'s yesterday, I followed her and Mike to Freehold for a Day-After-Thanksgiving race. Freehold, where I've been only once or twice before, is a beautiful town in Monmouth County. The sun came out and the sky was so blue and the air so crisp--a perfect fall day. Somebody asked if I was in line to register--ha! (But if I were a bit younger--all right, a lot younger--I would have started training.)
I guess there were several hundred runners and walkers. A. decided on the latter, as her leg was bothering her--and I found out later she came in second. Mike did very well in his group, too. He won first place in his age category in the run on Thanksgiving morning, too--I took a picture of him with his plaque.
I stayed long enough to see the start, then drove home. Turned the self-cleaning device for the oven on, washed the bathroom rugs, made a big salad, and generally kept busy. I'm having six for dinner on Tuesday--acting company friends--and want to get the house in shape. It's the first time I'll be entertaining since Pat died.
It continues to be a very pleasant Thanksgiving weekend.

Friday, November 27, 2009

This was about the best Thanksgiving in years! Arrived at A.'s at 3:30 (I had talked at length to the daughter of my recently deceased cousin, Bob, so ran a little late) with three pies, whipped cream, mums for A., and my overnight things in tow. A. had everything looking beautiful; I don't know how she did it all, considering her busy life otherwise, but the tables were set, food prep done, hard surfaces sparkling, and the 22-pound turkey browning in the oven.
Brent and John were already there and Joel and Noel, Rob and Lisa, and their combined six children came shortly. The adults sat and talked with drinks and appetizers while the kiddies--mostly, but not entirely--played in the "toy room," later to be my bedroom.
Dinner was just scrumptious. There was the bird, of course, and it was very moist and flavorful. Sides included three kinds of stuffing, two kinds of butternut squash, mashed 'taters, cauliflower, cranberry sauce, olives, banana bread, and so on, all laid out on A.'s big island, so everyone could help themselves. I admit I went back for seconds--the stuffing was particularly good--and when pie time arrived, I was hard put to indulge, but I managed. Had a wedge of pumpkin and small pieces of apple and pecan pie--very good, I modestly declare. In addition, there were turkey cookies my friend Susan sent for the children, fudge, and other sweets, as well. Good coffee topped it all off and even better, topping the top-off were phone calls from Mike, then Ellen (P. and N. had Skyped earlier in the day).
Well, it was such a good, warm, convivial time with wonderful family and friends. I know having a half dozen 7-and-under (including two 2-year-olds) energetic kiddies and a cockapoo running around might not be to every adult's liking, but I believe the hubbub was so festive and such fun to this company--they're the hope of the future, after all.
Cousin John provided a nod to the past with a box of pictures that had been Aunt Claire's. Here were Uncle Frank and her as newlyweds and Judy as a chubby toddler, an adolescent, a pretty girl with her fiancee--then, after the accident, valiently smiling from her wheelchair. There were other Byrne's, too--John's parents and mine and so many others--gone now and when a few more generations pass, they'll be forgotten, I'm afraid.
But enough of melancholy--it was a wonderful day and I'm so lucky, so very lucky, to have been part of it. Now A. and I will have oatmeal--I can't believe I can actually eat at this point!--then I'll drive home and enjoy the rest of the day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Was Baker For A Day, what with crusts, fillings, and so on, but the pies--yes, I say it myself--look pretty darn good. Made the apple first, as it takes longest. I used a new recipe I found on the Internet, although I have another, similar one I like. Didn't get fancy with the top crust, just slit it.
The pumpkin I've made a million times before and it's easy. (I can't fathom why people would buy "pumpkin pie mix"--that is, with the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves already in it. It's no more trouble to add them fresh and the difference in taste is amazing. Okay, I can't understand buying cake mixes, either, culinary snob that I am....)
The only one I'm a tad concerned about is the pecan pie, which I made last. My third pie pan is smaller than 9 inch, so I borrowed one from Barb next door. Once it was put together, I saw the filling is a bit scant--probably, the smaller one would have been better, but hey--it's done and I hope will be okay.
Didn't finish the pies scene until almost 6:00 (I took time to run a few errands in the afternoon), then sat and watched the DVD of Steel Magnolias. Greatly enjoyed it, although it's a real tear-jerker; haven't yet decided if I'll audition for a part for when we put it on in April.
Note: This post was interruped by a welcome Slype call from P. and N., then it was time to pick up Susan for our morning walk. Am back now and will finish.
All I have left to do is pack (I'm staying over at A.'s), whip the cream, load up the pie wagon--my car--and zip off to Thanksgiving.
Am I thankful? Yes, every day of my life. First and foremost, for my family--immediate, birth, and extended--and for the oven where I can bake pies and the house in which it sits, and the community I fell into six years ago by the most fortuitous of circumstances, and for wine, and the Internet, and good friends and good health, and the theatre company which accepts me so warmly, and for those people in the world who cry out against war, for glorious sunshine, and for the surge of satisfaction I get when I clean the bathroom.
Believe me--everybody will believe me--that's not a comprehensive list.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Riders" was a smash hit! Not only did I remember all my lines--and there were whole blocks of them--but I actually felt Maurya's pain. That frail, grieving Irish woman spoke to me from 1904, and I listened. The audience loved it--several said they had tears in their eyes as as I spoke my lament over the corpse of my dead son, Bartley.
I was a bit nervous, but not as much as I thought I'd be. What came first on the program for about a half hour were songs and skits organized by Desi and featuring Jim, Mary, Andrea, Bruce, Christine (who also played the keening woman in our play), and others. We in "Riders" complained about this among ourselves, thinking the ever-so-somber play should have been first so the audience was sent out on a light note. Actually, though, I think it worked out better that way it was.
A. came--so did a lot of my friends--and afterward, they crowded around with congratulations, hugs, and kisses. I introduced A. to Kathy and Lucille, my "daughters" in the play, and to lots of other LETCO members. What meant so much to me was the obviously sincere praise of my theatre colleagues, some of whom are really talented. Geez, I felt like a Broadway chorine being complimented by Meryl Streep for a performance in The Doll House.
A somber real-life (or real-death) note was that I received word that my cousin, Bob F., in California, has died. He was ailing for a long time and spent years grieving for his Karen, who died about 15 years ago. May he rest in peace.
Okay, now that "Riders" has ridden off, I'll turn my attention to Thanksgiving and start preparations for the three pies. Will not try to triple the recipe for the crusts--for some scientific reasons I don't even want to understand, that doesn't work--but will do them one by one. That'll be a piece of cake (or slice of pie--ha!) and a labor of love, of course. I'll sing while I relive in my mind the triumph of my first actual appearance in a real, live, serious play.
What a terrific, great, never-to-be-forgotten day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Showtime tonight! Guess I'm ready as I'll ever be. We had a kind of, sort of, somewhat "rehearsal" yesterday. Only Kathy, Franklin, and I were there, but we ran through it, mostly for my benefit, I guess. It was supposed to be at 4:00, though the library closes at 5:00 on Mondays, but K. was late and we barely had time. We set up, though; I contributed my kitchen stool (will bring the other today), an oil lamp and a few other items. We also have a cot to put poor Bartley's corpse on. Have more things to add, which I'll bring this afternoon.
Earlier, I shopped for all my pie ingredients. I'll make pumpkin, apple, and pecan to bring to A.'s on Thanksgiving. I'm going to try a new pie crust recipe I found on the Internet, which uses both Crisco and butter. Will make them all tomorrow.
I can hardly imagine life after this play is over!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Enjoyed the little birthday party last night. A. made lasagna, which was delicious, and we had the stuff I brought, which everybody liked. In the morning, I decided to whip my homemade applesauce with the sweet potatoes, along with orange juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon. I did, and it was very good.
Four little boys were running around but, thanks to A.'s large living/dining/rec room, there was plenty of room. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving there; she'll have a total of 15 people and I'll probably stay over that night.
I didn't do a lot yesterday other than getting my contribution to the dinner assembled. Continued reading Under The Dome and did some wash. It's amazing, incidentally, how seldom I have to wash now. I used to do a load everyday, but--with just me now--it's more like twice a week.
I was taken aback when I looked in the mirror yesterday to see I have a shiner around my left eye and extending down. It must be a result of walking into the door at Mary Ellen's the other day, but a delayed reaction, I guess. It looks pretty gross this morning--all purple and black; hope it fades by showtime.
Rehearsal this afternoon at the library, then we go on tomorrow at 7:00--yoicks!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

As noted below, I spent a lot of time cooking yesterday. Before I go to A.'s today, I just have to assemble the salad, bake the sweet potatoes, and ice the cake. Speaking of same, I was disappointed that both layers came out so flat. I'm wondering if my baking powder has anything to do with this. I have two cans, both almost full, that say "Best if used by 12/08." Now, I don't put much credence in expiration dates and 12/08 wasn't even a year ago, but maybe...
Oh, well, I solved the problem by baking another single layer. I'll make half again the icing recipe, put the pieces together for a three-layer cake, and it'll be a higher cake. Clever, ain't I?
After my culinary chores, I sat for an hour or so and continued reading Under The Dome, Stephen King's new one. The damn thing is so big--1074 pages--it's hard to carry around, but I like it. King's characters are utterly predictable--as soon as they're introduced, you know whether they'll be heroes, start a romance with another character, or suffer a horrifying death. Those in Dome are no exception. Already we have Dale Barbara ("Barbie")--a male retired military officer who, due to his anti-war angst, now works as a short-order cook--and Ms. Shumway, a fortyish real estate agent who clearly (King gives you clues up front) has a tragic past. You know they're going to end up in bed together before too many pages are turned. Then there are members of the Rennie family; Dad is a corrupt town official, Junior is a psychopathic murderer, and the fun and games they foster will surely continue until King consigns them to their timely, ingeniously horrifying demises.
Lots of other stock characters show up and I recognize most of them. It's nice for King fans not to have to bother with figuring out who's a goodie and who's a badie--he does it for you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Well, it's official: I've been inducted into the Dirty Stay-Out Club. Didn't get home last night until AFTER MIDNIGHT--which explains why I'm just getting around to this post at 12:30 p.m. I actually did get up in time to pick up Susan for our walk at 7:00--virtuous maiden that I am.
Had a terrific time last night at Mary Ellen's script-reading party. Those who took part were Jim and Mary H., Desi, Ellen V., Franklin, and me. We did "Greater Tuna," a hilarious satire of Texan foibles and we each took different parts as Mary Ellen dictated. I was Petey, then Didi, then Arles, then some others; we all mixed characters and genders.
Having concentrated on improving my Irish accent, I did very poorly as a southerner; in fact, neither Desi nor I even attempted the accent. The others did, though, and you would swear you had been plopped into the middle of the Panhandle, they were so good.
Mary and the three guys left about 10:00, but Mary Ellen urged Ellen and me to stay and have another glass of wine, and we didn't need much persuading. We sat and talked and talked, then ME (as she signs herself) gave us a tour of her big house on the bay in Barnegat Light. Boy, what a place; her bedroom huge--a kind of half-octagon with a panoramic view of the harbor. Hey, it was way cool, as the kids say (or did they say that that 20 years ago?) and just a terrific evening.
Backing up to when I first got there, however, I walked into one of the sliding doors, and it was the other one that was open. I led with my nose and gave myself a pretty good jolt; I thought it was broken, but it seemed okay after ME gave me ice to put on it. Today, it's still sore when I touch it and may have a bruise, but is pretty much okay.
Earlier, I went to the jeweler to have her get my engagement ring off. Even with the weight loss, I couldn't do it, as my knuckles have enlarged, I guess, over time. I didn't think it was appropriate for a poor Irish woman in 1904 to have a diamond ring and besides, I've been wanting to clean it thoroughly for a long time.
Have spent today cooking. I added sauted sweet peppers, onions, and mushrooms to corn, made applesauce, and pared and cut up sweet potatoes, which I'll cook tomorrow. Will assemble the salad tomorrow, too, and I have a cake baking in the oven. Along with my crystal pickles and a loaf of Italian bread, that's what I'll take to A.'s tomorrow for her birthday.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Had a terrifically enjoyable time with Frank and Marybeth in Delaware. At my suggestion, we met at Ruby Tuesday's in the gigantic Christiana Mall. Being geographically challenged, I thought it was about halfway from my place and Balitmore, but it was 104 miles for me and 63 for them. No matter, I had no problem getting there, in fact, was an hour early. I was delighted to find that Susan came, too, and brought along little Kelan, 13 months, and Gabrielle, 3 weeks.
What beautiful children! Kelan is such a sweet-natured little boy and so funny as he concentrated on sampling his grandmother's mashed potatoes and chewing on any items within reach. Gabrielle didn't say much, but clearly made her needs known.
Had a leisurely meal and, of course, never ran out of conversation. I tried out my Irish accent on Marybeth and she declared I sounded as if I had grown up with her in the ould country. Frank asked if we could stop at their place in Alameda on the way back from Tahoe next month; hope so and I'll discuss that with Ellen. We caught up on the comings and goings of our children and other family members, and just had a fine time.
Didn't get home until almost 6:00--I think I took the long way back--but except for a few sprinkles, the rain held off, so that was all right. Skipped a regular dinner (the hamburger I had for lunch was dripping with grease and calories--oh, divine!) and just had broccoli.
Wonderful day, wonderful family, and lucky me to be part of it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rehearsal last night. It seemed a shambles to me, but I'm heartened by the fact that I've read major productions often run very rough until just before opening. Hope that holds true for us, as our opening is also our closing--it's a one-time deal.
Jim and Franklin, who will carry Dave in as a corpse (well, it's just too long and involved to explain), were there. LETCO's board meeting followed, so Desi, Tara, and the other big guns sat in for part of it. They were complimentary, but I'm not sure if that was to shore up our confidence, or what.
Earlier, I thought my TracPhone had died (it didn't, it was the outlet, but I'll skip that boring tale) and I went to Wal-Mart to buy another. Incredibly, it was only $14.88 and I could transfer my old minutes (same number, of course). It also comes with "double minutes" when I have to buy them. I can't understand why people pay such unbelievably high monthly charges for cell phones. All I want is for the damn thing to send and receive calls. It does and perfectly well. I'm satisfied and I pay mere peanuts every once in a while to add minutes. End of story.
Spoke to Joel and A.; we'll celebrate A.'s birthday on Sunday at her place, as it's easier for the kids to get there. She's making lasagna and I said I'd bring everything else, including the cake, of course.
I'm meeting California brother and SIL Frank and Marybeth today for lunch; they're in Baltimore to meet their new granddaughter. We'll meet at the Christiana Mall in Delaware, 104 miles away for me, so I want to get an early start.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Met for Scrabble yesterday at Pat G.'s and we had a great time. I don't care for the game, but as I've mentioned before, I do enjoy socializing with my friends. And--an unusual event--I actually won one. I was trailing when I got 45 points for the word "fez" that I was able to place over a triple word score.
Good grief! Things are pretty bad when I have to resort to recording my score in a lousy board game! Goes to show to depth to which I sometimes fall. And speaking of depths--cultural depths this time--see below.
Wider: I haven't commented recently on Sarah Palin--in fact, I try not to think about her--but what I saw this morning on tape has opened the floodgates. It seems she complained to Barbara Walters about the Newsweek cover showing her in running shorts, a picture that had been taken for a runners' mag. The oh-so-intellectual Sarah said she was angry because she wants to be depicted as more "substance-oriented."
Now what substance is that, Sarah? Advocacy of the brand of religion that believes infidels should be bombed? The pandering to sub-normals who think all the world's ills can be attributed to non-Caucasians? The over-weening ambition that led her to quit her day job and "write a book?"
Oh, yes, the book. I wonder if members of the reading public--oops, that's excerpting public--realize that most titles are dreamed up by editors and not by the "writer." The trend in these dying last years of literacy has been to grab attention by coming up with titles that try to portray the subject before the book is even opened. Going Rogue is, of course, that kind of title. It instantly suggests a maverick who refuses to kowtow to the entrenched powers and, in her brave and lonely way, fights for truth, justice, and the American---
Pardon me while I wretch. All Palin's performances are, of course, choreographed by a phalanx of professionals: writers, directors, speech coaches, makeup artists, and clothing advisers, all overseen by political handlers who work day and night to present a candidate (I won't even put quote marks around that) who appeals to the brain dead. I thought it so-o-o appropriate that a tape of Palin being "interviewed" (yeah, I will set that off) by Barbara Walters was followed immediately by a uniquely disgusting commercial for dog food. It starts by having an actor--as dog--say that he enjoys "optimal stool quality." Somehow, that seemed to fit right in.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rehearsal last night at Kathy's. Tara, who is on LETCO's board, came and gave us good critical insights into our performances. (Good grief, we go on a week from today!)
Rest of the day was mundane with errand-running and so on. I took the Deathtrap stuff out of the display window and replaced it with "Riders" info. Had stopped at a number of stores to see if I could get some old-fashioned fishing net for decoration, but had no luck. I'll go to the party store in Manahawkin today. I did put in a birdhouse I gave Pat a few years ago. It's in the shape of a fishing shack and although the people living in the Aran Islands in 1904 lived in thatched cottages, it conveys the nautical theme, I think.
Scrabble group today at Pat G.'s.
Wider: The more things change...department. From Harper's and cited in "A Tiny Revolution," a long and intriguing article on the right wind tradition blaming internal enemies for wars that go wrong, which includes:
"[T]he stab in the back has become the sustaining myth of modern American nationalism. Since the end of World War II it has been the device by which the American right wing has both revitalized itself and repeatedly avoided responsibility for its own worst blunders. Indeed, the right has distilled its tale of betrayal into a formula: Advocate some momentarily popular but reckless policy. Deny culpability when that policy is exposed as disastrous. Blame the disaster on internal enemies who hate America. Repeat, always making sure to increase the number of internal enemies..."
Think this kind of thing is gearing up for our current wars? Does a bear sleep in the woods?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Got to the the final performance (matinee) of Deathtrap an hour ahead and helped out with various things. It was again well attended. I think there's a definite characteristic or "flavor" to different audiences. The Saturday night one tended to be more of the sedate, "dinner and the theatre" crowd--lots of Sunrise Bay neighbors there--and to a certain extent, so did the Friday night one. Yesterday's matinee audience had more younger members and was maybe a bit more likely to complain if things went wrong. Not that anything substantial did, aside from a problem with seating, which will be hashed over at the board meeting on Wednesday. Stayed long enough to be in the cast and crew picture after, but wasn't able to help with the "strike the set" function, as I was due to go with Susan and Walter to the "Dine Around" dinner at 6:15. Did that--it was at SeaOaks--and it was fun, but boy, these constant late nights are getting to me. Tonight, we rehearse at Kathy's on LBI, but at least, it's from 6 to 8, so I should be home before 9:00.
Had calls from sister Betty and brother Jim, as well as a message from darling daughter, Ellen. Being a dirty stay-out, I wasn't able to get her back, but left her one and we exchanged e-mails. Less than a month to California--yay!
Wider: Here's a little tidbit from The Times that doesn't need comment: Drug Makers Raise Prices in Face of Health Care Reform By DUFF WILSON
Critics say the industry is trying to establish a higher price base before Congress passes legislation that tries to curb drug spending in coming years...
Oh, hell, I'll comment anyway: AAGH!!
Wider Still: Here we go again: I just couldn't--could not!--resist adding this other smidgen of information from The Times. It seems that
General Motors has reported that it lost 1.2 billion in its third quarter, which it cites as "making progress...."
What...what...what?! Picture me open-mouthed. They've made progress by losing 1.2 billion dollars? What would great success mean, losing 5 billion? But no matter, we'll just infuse them with a few trillion taxpayer dollars so they can lose a little more.
Hey, Eric,* just add this to your owner's manual on the English language, which is a major part of 1984: Not only is war peace, but failure is success.
* Eric Blair, of course.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The show last night attracted a sold-out crowd. We actually had to turn people away, suggesting that they return for the matinee today. Had a great time afterward at the cast party, which was held at Mary and Jim H.'s; Jim played the lead in Deathtrap. They have a big, beautiful house in the woods not far from here and the party was such fun. I didn't get home--get this--until 3 am and it's now quarter of six so, no, I didn't get much sleep. In fact, I'm a tad hung over, but it was worth it.
Matinee today, then it's over until our "Riders To The Sea"in--gulp!--less than two weeks.
Got a nice phone call from California brother, Frank, who will be in Baltimore next week and we made a date to "meet in the middle" on Thursday. He and Marybeth are "coming on" (used to be a common expression to denote travel) to see their new granddaughter.
Wider: Now all you cynics about our elected representatives, quit yer bitchin'. These fine, upstanding men and women have nothing but our welfare at heart, especially when it comes to providing us with quality medical care. From today's NYTimes:
QUOTATION OF THE DAY
"We were approached by the lobbyist, who asked if we would be willing to enter a statement in the Congressional Record. I asked him for a draft. I tweaked a couple of words. There’s not much reason to reinvent the wheel on a Congressional Record entry."STANLEY V. WHITE, chief of staff for Representative Robert A. Brady of Pennsylvania, one of dozens of lawmakers who used speeches ghostwritten by a biotechnology company during the health-care debate in the House."
And don't think for a minute our UN-elected officials don't care about our sensitives, too. According to Truthout, to protect us,
"...Secretary Gates has blocked the release of photographs depicting US soldiers abusing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, invoking new powers just granted to him by Congress that allows him to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and keep the images under wraps on national security grounds."
Whew! I hope we all appreciate our leaders' vigilance.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Acted as greeter for the first regular showing of Deathtrap last night. Considering the continuing high winds and heavy rain, it was very well attended. It was fun greeting people, giving them programs, and helping them find seats. The majority had bought tickets in advance. I stayed for the whole show, so didn't get home until after ten, and to bed very late. (Anytime after 9:00 is "very late" for me.) I'll go again tonight and to tomorrow's matinee, but will probably leave after the start. It's a great show, but I've already seen the whole thing twice.
Earlier, I went to Kohl's and Target. Tried on a lot of stuff, but bought only a pair of casual slacks. I was actually almost blown over in the parking lots--what weather we're having. Now, after what seems like weeks of this, I'm anxious to see the sun again, if it's still up there.
The sty that developed on my left eye seems to be a bit better. Looked up treatment on the good ol' Internet and followed the advice to apply warm compresses. Also bought some ointment for pain and itching.
Later: Well, the news on the weight front continues depressing. Went to WW and I'm up yet again--by .4 or about 6 ounces. Doesn't sound too bad until you add it to what went before. I now weigh 142.6, which is a bit more than 17 pounds up from my low of 125. I've lost 57 pounds, not bad at all until you realize it used to be 74 pounds off. Not sure yet what my strategy will be to deal with this, but I'll have to think of one soon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Went to the dress rehearsal for Deathtrap last night. What a great show! Just for openers, the set is spectacular. It's on ground level, with about six rows of audience seats directly in front. However, there's also a raised tier of seats, so viewing is much more convenient than it had been. And the new seats are padded--what a luxury.
Only LETCO members, and only a few of them, were invited to be spectators. It was a dreadfully rainy, windy night, which probably accounted for the fact that there were only five and I knew four of them. Margie and Franklin were in the acting workshop with me; Marge was in Plaza Suite last year and Franklin is on the board.
The play itself is full of murder, mayhem, plot twists, intrigue, and all kinds of other hi-jinks. Jim H. played the main character and a new young guy, Andrew Somebody, the second lead. Andrea B., with whom I acted in the murder mystery shows, is the wife, and Tara C., who directed the acting workshop, has a key role. My neighbor, Sid S., has a small, but meaty part, as the lawyer. All were superb and everything came off perfectly.
Didn't get home until after ten and had my wine and popcorn. Thought I might "sleep in" (where did that idiotic expression ever come from? You're really saying, 'sleep late," fer cryin' out loud--of course you're sleeping 'in' unless you're camping in a field or something!) today, but I got up and got my walk with Susan in, notwithstanding the practically monsoon-style rain and wind.
(Oh, what's that, Sister Gabrielle, a run-on sentence AND too many of the wordy asides I favor, AND the constant, annoying use of emphasis--italics, dashes, capitals--sprinkled throughout? Don't care, if it's in the language, I'll use it and look for more. It's how I write and who I am.)
Wider: A gem from Justin Raimondo at AntiWar.com:
"We can have an empire, or we can have our old republic back. We cannot have both."
But the whole--"The Winds Of Change Die Down"--should be read. In fact, Raimondo and AntiWar.com should be read everyday. Go here:
http://antiwar.com/

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Very good rehearsal last night--it's really coming together. I'm completely off-book, we were all very relaxed, and Director Kathy had some great ideas. I've decided to skip using the long white wig I bought, It looks very wiggy in the front and also, I have to throw my shawl over my head at one point and I'm afraid the wig will pull it off. Bought talcum powder and tried that before I washed my hair; it works fine and washes right out. (Of course, I could just let my natural hair color come out, but hell, no.)
Tonight is dress rehearsal for Deathtrap and I want to go to that. Will be acting as greeter for the regular performances this weekend.
Wider: Maybe this, in microcosm, illustrates what's wrong with the economy: I look forward to sipping a glass of Taylor Country Red every night as I eat my popcorn and relax. I've bought my wine for years at West Tuckerton Liquor, almost always with a fifteen percent off coupon from the local paper. That brought the cost to $9.09 a gallon. (Yes, this is expensive stuff.)
Anyhoo, I stopped to replenish my supply a few weeks ago, and found that the price has gone up: Even with the coupon, I now had to pay an even $10.00. Seems to me that's a pretty drastic jump. To add i. to i., I discovered that the coupons now are for only ten percent off. Yesterday, I had to fork over $10.58 for my wine.
Now, the single glass at night is just about all the alcohol I drink, and it ain't gonna break me to pay the extra cost. But I'm afraid it's been holding true for all kinds of goods and services: higher prices for the same thing--or sometimes, inferior things, I guess.
What really stuck in my craw was the attitude of the clerk when I complained about the drop in discount value. She said I should be "grateful" to have a coupon at all!
That infuriated me. It seems indicative of the "screw you" attitude of American commerce in general. You should be grateful they allow you to buy their lousy stuff, glad to pay hugely inflated prices, and how dare you complain!
Okay, maybe I'm just in a sour mood because of the everlasting rain. Nevertheless, it's annoying. I thought prices were supposed to go down in a recession. Joke's on me, I guess.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I didn't wake up until 6:50 this morning (Oh, that's shocking--call out the oversleep police!) and barely had time to wash and dress before running out the door to Susan's. We walked in steady rain, but that's okay as it wasn't windy.
I spent yesterday trying on clothes. I want to get some semi-dressy tops to wear for my greeter duties at Deathtrap this weekend. Tried on everything Macy's had to offer and rejected all, then went to Boscov's and got a black-and- white blouse, very similar to the one I already have, dammit. Could not resist a red pants and jacket combo to take to California. However, I'm annoyed that I'll have to take the pants to be shortened, as it was designed (they all are) for a seven-foot tall woman. Went to the library after dinner and asked to rehearse--yes, all by myself--in the room in which we'll perform. Went through the whole thing; I want to get comfortable with the venue.
Wider: Is it any wonder there seems to be a profound ennui almost universally felt in this country? Here are just the beginnings of three articles from The NYTimes today:
Blackwater Said to Pursue Bribes to Iraq After 17 Died By MARK MAZZETTI and JAMES RISENFormer executives said it was unclear if payoffs of about $1 million were made to Iraqi officials, but the goal was to hush criticism and buy support after 17 civilians were killed...
President, at Service, Hails Fort Hood’s Fallen By PETER BAKER and CLIFFORD KRAUSSPresident Obama took on the role of national eulogist on Tuesday for the first time since assuming office...
2 Bear Stearns Fund Leaders Are Acquitted By ZACHERY KOUWE and DAN SLATERA jury found that two managers did not lie by presenting an upbeat picture while their funds plummeted in value...
So we learn of the corruption of a government-employed company, then are solemnly informed that a mass murderer is the "national eulogist" after a mass murder. We read further and discover that men who enriched themselves by participating in the robbery of widows and orphans can't be faulted. The following comment from a juror is indicative, I believe, of the moral depths to which we've fallen:
"'The entire market crashed. You can’t blame that on two people.' ARAM HONG, a member of a jury that found two former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers not guilty in a major criminal case stemming from the financial crisis."
In other words, even though the financiers on trial may have contributed to the looting of the national fortune, they weren't the only ones, so they must be let off. It could be called "collective innocence," I guess. Those who are rich and powerful never, under any circumstances, are made to answer for their crimes. If you lie, steal, bribe, and kill on a large enough scale, you're home free.
What a crock.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On my way to Manahawkin, stopped at Mary Ann Van O.'s to tell her all about my wonderful Met adventure on Saturday. I credit her with turning me on to this pleasure, as she runs the monthly "Sunday At The Opera" show at the clubhouse.
Went to the SOCH thrift store to look for costume pieces for Riders, but didn't find the fringed shawl and plain half-apron that I need. Stopped at Kohl's afterward to try on stuff for my greeter duties for Deathtrap, but didn't like anything there. Will look at my existing wardrobe.
After lunch, I got ambitious and attacked the Montauk daisies bushes on either side of the front walk. They're so attractive in late summer and early fall, but after their peak, tend to get woody and fall over (sounds that a lush). I cut them to the ground and dragged the branches to the trash can.
Got a morning Skype call from P. and N. Skype has improved remarkably, I'm happy to say, and my sound no longer suddenly cuts off as it did before. A. came in late afternoon to help me get the hoses inside and that was my day.
Wider: Re my post below about the Fort Hood killings:
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. --Voltaire
V. also wrote "Prussia is an army disguised as a state." Hmm...does that ring a bell with anybody?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Enjoyable days continue. We rehearsed yesterday morning at the nearby home of Lucille (my "daughter") in order to accommodate the fact that she and her husband don't use babysitters for their lively--to put it mildly--2 1/2- year-old. I'm now off-book and the play is coming together nicely.
After a bite for lunch, went to B.J.'s for cottage cheese and squash, then ran a few other errands. Dressed for our dinner date and was at the D.'s door about 3:30 to drive to Ellen V.'s in Forked River.
Ellen's small, but nicely laid out home is right on the water and has a dock, although she no longer has a boat. Wow, oh wow, it's great. We went out on her deck and what a pleasure it was to look over the wide canal, with ducks and a majestic white swan gliding through the still water. She served a delicious beef stew made in a big Dutch oven, along with homemade biscuits and store-bought apple turnovers. With it, we had the good Weight Watchers pumpkin fluff Barb brought. Ellen made coffee and it occurred to us--yes, we discussed it--that she's one of the few people we know who still uses a non-electric drip coffee maker that brews on the stove.
Well, it was a delightful evening. Ellen has "retired" from The Fourth Wall Acting Company (she directed "Sorry, Wrong Number" which we attended a few weeks ago), but remains in our own acting group. Of course, our talk covered a range of subjects, from the trials and triumphs of performing, to the fortunes of family and friends, to Ellen's annual participation in roughing-it trips down the river in the Grand Canyon. (Considering she's 75 years old and not slim, it's remarkable she's able to do this.)
Altogether, another very nice day. Got home about 9:00, Skyped my Ellen (as opposed to the Ellen who hosted the dinner party) and had a nice talk, then went happily to bed.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

What a glorious day! We left at 9 am, drove to Jackson, and boarded the chartered bus to Manhattan about noon. It took about 90 minutes to get to New York, so we had plenty of time to look around Lincoln Center, find our seats, and settle in.
It was a perfect fall day: a bit nippy, but brilliantly sunny with blue skies and just a gentle breeze. I had forgotten--it's been so long--how exciting and exhilarating New York can be. The streets around Lincoln Center were jammed with people of all ages and types, walking and strolling, talking and gesticulating, laughing and exuberant. There may have been some burglars, rapists, and neocons among them, but yesterday they all seemed wonderfully benign and determined to do good in the world.
The Met itself is so beautiful. The entrance is all red and gold with soaring ceilings, huge windows, a gigantic, sweeping, open staircase , and spectacular light fixtures. The motif is followed pretty much throughout and the theatre itself is breathtaking. We were seated way, way up on the top tier balcony in the heavens (apt expression!). These are the "cheap" seats--$44.50--but, I understand, the sound is better there, anyway.
Interestingly, there's a "standing room" area at the very top; spaces are reserved here, too, and they cost only $17.
The opera, Turandot, itself? Even I, the musical illiterate, loved the sound that arose from the stage. The singing and the orchestra by themselves, and the combination of both, transported the listener into a realm of beauty . And the sets! They were breath-taking and changed for each of the three acts, one a courtyard outside the Imperial Palace in Peking, the next inside the palace, the next the imperial gardens. The stage is huge and allows for spectacular effects, as well as the accommodation of what seemed to be several hundred members of the company. The costumes rivaled the sets in opulence, with the heroines in gowns and headpieces of brilliant blue, red, and green, and the comic relief, Ping, Pang, and Pong in dazzling colors, too.
At the close, there were several standing ovations, then we slowly filed out of the theatre, which took about a half hour, there were so many people there. We boarded the bus again and were driven to "Michael Anthony's," a restaurant right on--or over--the river in Jersey City. The views were spectacular and so were the appetizers, the wine, the meal, and the conversation. We met a couple--he originally from Ireland, she was England--who live in Great Oaks and I practiced my Irish accent on them. They thought it was good (at least, they said that), which heartened me and I was pleased when they said they intend to come to the play.
We ate, drank, talked, and laughed, and by the time we got back on the bus, it was past 9:00. Arrived back at the point of origin, St. Aloysius Church in Jackson by about ten, then got home at exactly 11:00. I promptly poured myself a second glass of wine and put "Nessun dorma!," meaning "Nobody Sleeps!" (the exclamation point is part of the title) into the search engine and enjoyed hearing it sung by Pavarotti and others. This is a famous aria in Turandot--which I had never heard of until yesterday, of course--and it's beautiful and moving.
What a day! What a thrill! What a realization that there are so many things in the world I know not and that I want to know. Opera? I barely knew what it was until a year or so ago and now I'm enthralled by it. I hope to go back to the Met--maybe in the standing section--before too long and to enlarge my embryonic knowledge of this basic musical theatre.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Incredible news: I'm going to the Met today! Was invited by Frank-Next-Door and we're leaving at 9 am. He had been planning to go with Desi S., our artistic director at the theatre company, but Desi became ill. Frank's wife, Barbara, had other plans, so Frank asked me. I had been booked to go to a luncheon today with Susan and Barb H. (to benefit the Tuckerton Library, where Susan is on the board), but immediately accepted Frank's offer. Rushed across the street to Susan's to explain and apologize, and she was perfectly fine with it; said she would have done the same.
We drive from here to Jackson and board a bus at a church there. That takes us to NYC, where we see the opera, Turandot (composer Puccini's last), and after, to dinner in Jersey City. Boy, do I feel like a club-hopping sophisticate!
Went down to Ventnor yesterday and spent time at the Historical Society talking to volunteer and fellow St. Jamesian, Madeline D. Stopped at the school--now Holy Family--to ask after the whereabouts of the pictures I archived and framed for them several years ago. The secretary wasn't quite sure, but will call me. (Yeah, sure, uh-huh, and that'll happen when Obama earns the now-forever-devalued Nobel prize.)
Called sweet Jen just to say hello. Things okay there, although T. had a little stomach upset. Hope I can get to see her and the boys before too long.
Later, just because I was still in a get-out-of the house mood, went to Manahawkin and looked over stuff at Kohl's and Target. Didn't buy anything, I'm happy to say. Went to the Barnegat Library and picked up a few books. Cooked myself up a satisfying fall dinner of salmon, broccoli, and butternut squash, then--Frank called and we're going to the Met!
P.S. Called Mary Ann Van O., who runs "Sunday At The Opera" at our clubhouse, to tell her the good news. Coincidentally, she's going to a theatre up north today in order to view on closed-circuit T.V. the same performace I'm seeing in the flesh. I credit Mary Ann with introducing me to opera and allowing me to realize I actually like it.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Got my prescription in Manahawkin in the morning; also a few other items and two 2010 calendars. I use the large, flat kind that lies on my desk and it gets dog-eared after a while, so I like to change to a fresh one mid-year. Started a pot of lentil soup in the crock pot.
Went to the cemetery after lunch, then to Shop-Rite, then stocked up on veggies at Santori's (avocados, limes, lettuce, acorn and spaghetti squash, broccoli, and cauliflower). These stores are conveniently on Jimmie Leeds Road in Galloway, between the cemetery and home. Once home, I cooked up a lot of my buys, so I now have a refrigerator full of good stuff to eat.
Aside from that, did a wash and went to the library. Sister-in-law Therese called to get the address for a nephew, a new daddy. That prompted me to get a card, too, to welcome the new addition to our huge extended family. Sent it off.
Somewhat slow, but not a bad day.
Wider: Random violence seems a special kind of horror. Who among us hasn't thought of, say, walking into a convenience store for a cup of coffee and being gunned down by an insane person? Or of sending our child off to school and being notified of his murder at the hands of a fellow student? Being killed by a stranger, and casually, "accidentally," just because we happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, can't be guarded against. So Fort Hood...
The president called the killing of 12--according to The NYTimes, 10 soldiers and 2 civilians--"a horrific outburst of violence" and I guess no one could argue about that. And yet...and yet...
Why is the violence of the military never characterized as "horrific"?" If a soldier kills 12 people in battle, he is honored, decorated, and called a hero. The very purpose of his existence is to kill other humans and, so often, the killing takes place in arbitrary wars of aggression. Does it make a difference to their survivors whether their loved ones were rendered dead at the hands of a fellow soldier on an army base in Texas or in battle in some faraway land?
Yes, of course, it does, but I'm not sure why. The dead are just as dead. It may be harder, in this circumstance, to say Johnny "died for his country," although I'm sure it will be done. I never did understand what those words mean, anymore than "he fought for our freedom" or "freedom isn't free" or any of the other old, worn, diabolical slogans and cliches to which we seem to cling. They've been used for decades to entice people into supporting violence and death and to erase thought.
Those who were killed yesterday didn't "deserve to die" anymore than the civilians in the middle east do, but they died anyway. The killing spree was just a random act by a deranged man, like swatting a fly on the wall. After the shock and grief staged so expertly by the media and accepted so gratefully by the populace, the whole thing will fade away and become yesterday's news.
Meaningless murder--the epitaph of our times.