Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Leatherheads - It Ain't Over Till It's Over - Day Seven

This day was the biggest surprise of all. It all started with a phone call while I was in the car with my daughter's fiance and his mother on the way to celebrating an early Mother's Day.  Since everyone was moving in on Mother's Day, my daughter suggested we celebrate early and asked if it would be all right for her fiance's family to join us because they were all so excited about my being in the movie. It would be great, I told her.

Well, the teenagers wanted to listen to their music on the way to the restaurant, they went in my daughter's car and I went with her fiance and his mother. His mother was so excited, after seeing the pictures, that I didn't think we'd be able to contain her in the car. Try to imagine her excitement when my phone rang and it turned out to be the assistant A.D. for Leatherheads, asking if I would be available in the upcoming week to return for some editing work on the film. I thought the woman would have a heart attack because she thought it was actually George Clooney, himself, making the call.

I let the A.D. know that I had to be in Lewisville on Monday afternoon but that I was available anytime after that. He said he'd get back to me with all the information after everyone had checked in with their available dates. When we got to the restaurant, they couldn't wait to tell my daughter about the phone call. The expression on all their faces was priceless.

I have to admit to being a little nervous, initially, because I thought that I had done something wrong and now they would have to redo the scenes because of my ineptness.  In less than a heartbeat, I realized what an incredibly arrogant and self-indulgent thought that was, since the easiest thing on earth would be to simply edit me out of any of the scenes; right? So, I just relaxed and spent the weekend looking forward to seeing everyone, again. (poor me)

I was given reservations at the Hampton Inn, again, but one floor up. This was an easy entry back into the process because my pickup call was 11:25 in the morning and I could catch my beauty sleep. (Something I desperately need!)  Everyone was so nice when I returned to the set and welcomed me with big smiles and open arms. Jonathan Pryce came into the makeup trailer, he greeted me with a hearty hello and a hug and then we settled down to be transformed.

Poor Jack Thompson is the one that had the biggest turnaround. His plane had just landed in Sydney, Australia, when he got the call from George, so he simply walked to the other end of the terminal to get onto a return flight. Just one way to Australia is a 26-hour journey so when he walked into the makeup trailer he had just flown a round trip of 52 hours and, of course, still had the return flight to Australia to look forward to. George arrived and immediately went over to Jack and apologized profusely. It was fortunate that everyone had the same thought, you do everything you can to make a film come out exactly the way you want it. While returning to redo some filming can be difficult, it reduces the problems once editing is finished. Films last forever and there are only too many people willing to point out mistakes. I will be eternally grateful for being part of a filming process where there was enough money to make it the best it can be.

There was a lot of readjusting throughout the day so RZ and I had a chance to visit and get to know each other a little bit better. I was able to give everyone a copy of the pictures that were taken last week and, when I told RZ about the way the pictures, I inadvertently said website rather than the webpage and I thought she was going to faint. So I quickly let her know that I had not, in fact, put the pictures up on the web but had simply placed them on a private webpage so that some members of my family would be able to see them.

Jack Thompson told me he expected to be seeing more of me in the future because GC likes to use the same people whatever he can in films. I hope I haven't let him down and that I do hear from him again sometime in the future. When it was finally time to go, RZ gave me a big hug and told me how much she enjoyed my work. She said, "believe me, I looked at your close-ups during the filming and it was really great, in the professional sense," and I should be proud of what I did. I hope she was being more than kind because I really didn't want to let them down.

The day was fairly long and there was a hot meal waiting downstairs. Imagine my surprise to discover that it was after four o'clock and almost time to go home. This was such a wonderful experience, and would love to repeat; but if that doesn't happen, I have great memories.

Then next time you see Leatherheads, look for the gray-haired Commissioner's secretary (Don't check your popcorn!) -- that's me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Leatherheads - The End is Near - Day Six

This is a day that is met with both excitement and sadness, since it is my last day filming. That's probably the best thing for the dress, since it could become quite rank after a few more hot days.

Breakfast was on time and I was able to meet my driver without incident. Immediately went to make up upon arrival, dressed in costume, returned to hairdressing to complete my 1920s look and returned to my trailer. According to my call sheet, I was supposed to be on set at 8 a.m. instead, I was able to relax for several hours, waiting for my turn. At approximately 10:30, I was called on to set and they had completely transformed the hallway. The only thing visible at the secretarial end now was my desk and chair and the beautifully appointed antique desk. This was my scene with just the simple one line. It was a lot of fun because, once my line was finished, I was able to be used as background for the balance of the scene where the soldiers come up the stairs.

My balloon-making friend was there to meet me and gave me the two CDs he had on balloon making, with a reminder to say hello to Dave Bartlett, clown extraordinaire, for him. It's an absolute dream to be working on a George Clooney set. Everything is run with precision, quiet, and thorough professionalism. The days are for work and the nights are for rest and relaxation. There is no question in my mind that Mr. Clooney knows exactly what he is doing, at all times.

Having been an actor, himself, as well as acting in this movie, he is very much aware of the feelings of the performers and treats them with as much dignity and respect as the technical professionals expect to be treated. I was told that when the movie started George told his entire crew that there would only be one person hollering on the set, and that would be him. There was no excuse for anyone else hollering or making scenes during his movies. I never once heard him lose his temper and he always had a smile for everyone, regardless of position or function on the set. A gracious man towards everyone.

In fact, everyone displayed courtesy, friendliness, and respect towards each other. There were no outbursts of foul language, fighting, or temper tantrums, that I could observe during my three days with the film, and this was toward the end of an arduous and grueling filming period. Tomorrow, I go to the real world again and working with independence, lower salary, and who knows what. I tried to catch everyone that I had worked with to thank them for their attention to my comfort and hope to see them again.

After lunch, I returned to the set just in case there was something else for me to do. I learned a long time ago to not leave a live set until I had been formally dismissed. I really couldn't see any need for my services, since everything that had to do with anything I was doing in the film had long since been removed. But, I was not going to leave without permission. George had command and I knew he saw me, albeit, he didn't greet me but continued directing his following scenes. After about three hours, I decided it didn't matter whether or not I got his picture, I was simply going to let the executive producer know that I would be leaving the set. Well, once I told the executive producer that I couldn't see any reason for me to stay and that I would be leaving he told me to not leave the set, if I didn't mind, until they actually were ready for me to go, since they weren't sure. I had no problem with that.

Within the hour, George called a wrap to the day and I decided I would try to catch him and see if I could get a picture. But, I wasn't going to make a big deal of it. He was coming down the stairwell as I came around the corner and I took advantage. I simply told him that I was grateful for the opportunity he had given me and, if possible, would he be willing to let me have a picture of us in our costumes. He asked if I had a camera and I told him I did. He immediately asked the executive producer to take our picture, put his arm on my shoulder and -- I had my souvenir. I decided to treat myself to a final dinner at the Outback. I wanted a great meal to support a great memory.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Leatherheads - No Biz Like Show Biz - Day Five

This turned out to be a long and interesting day. Renée Z. arrived and we went over some of the scenes from yesterday that had been set up with her stand-in.

Renée is a very gracious, sweet, woman. She immediately came over to me, introduced herself, and made me feel very comfortable. (As an aside, bear in mind, I'm a minor player working with a top-notch cast of players. Very nerve-wracking trying not to screw up!) She loved my dress as much as I did and, when I jokingly said I'd love to keep it, offered to hold down one of the crew members while I made a bolt for the door! It truly is a beautiful dress and one of the few costumes I'm going to miss when this is over.

Pictures for My Scrapbook, Not for Wide Distribution

First of all, what I didn't know was that folks had been told that they couldn't have any cameras on set. I have always taken pictures of fellow cast mates, during productions, and didn't give having my camera with me a second thought.

With only one more day (I thought) of filming my scene, it was a day to collect pictures. What I didn't do was hassle the actors, merely let them know I was interested in having a photo when, and if, there was some free time. They not only graciously agreed but I told them to choose their most convenient time, and let them come after me. So, today, I got everyone but GC's, and will get one, for sure, before I leave, tomorrow. Thank the Lord, because my camera ran out of memory and I needed to upload some of the pictures before I could do it.

It's Only Make Believe, Or, Is It?

The neatest thing to watch was the imitation rain. If you didn't know it was done with a machine, you would have thought it was pouring outside, complete with darkened sky at a full downpour. But, just by peeking right at the edge of the window you could look a little further beyond the rain and see the blue sky, white, puffy, clouds and sunshine.

George is a meticulous director and has been very kind and supportive of me. I seriously doubt that he'd been told what that crew member said to me on my first day but he took the time to tell me that I did exactly what he wanted in my scene. A great way to finish the day! Tomorrow is supposed to be the day for shooting my scene on the secretarial side of the door, so that should be fun.

While waiting around, I ran into an actor I've seen many times at auditions in North Carolina and discovered she is the stand-in for Renée Zellweger. Since she didn't make it through the auditions for a part, she decided to try for the stand-in role, and has been on set for the whole run of the film, making some very nice change.

Hidden Talents of Cast and Crew

One of the extras on set makes a living as the Balloon Man! He can create almost anything with those long, thin, balloons and was filling his time with sharing his craft. And, my driver to and from the Hampton Inn is a young woman with a wonderful photographic gift. Her name is Christie Chaplin and she shared her award-winning photos of wild birds with me. A hobby she picked up after the death of her mother, two years ago, she discovered she had an exquisite eye for getting just the right pose.

She gave me a packet of her notecards and I told her she needed to get these out to the public. Told her about and hope she follows through with getting her work online. So, if you find them, you heard it here, first.

I've been amusing myself with frame knitting and managed to get a good stiff neck from staying too close to the a/c. Renee was really taken with the craft and thought it was a great time-filler. Since you can't drop stitches, it's very easy to put down, as soon as you're needed. And, it's very compact to carry around.

Well, they ended up calling the medic over and he gave me some Ibuprofen. Once he left, a crew member came over and gave me a pressure massage that immediately alleviated the problem. The folks in make-up gave me a small jar of Tiger Balm, something very close to the old-fashioned Heet lotion. The combination worked, very well. When it was time for my scene, I was totally relaxed. I couldn't even feel my feet -- but, that's another problem.

I'm sure, if I had done a survey, there would have been all types of fascinating interests that filled the lives of the crew.

Had a very nice dinner with some folks from wardrobe, who were also staying at the Hamilton Inn, and then decided to make it an early night to feel fresh for the 6:15 morning pick-up.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Call to Action! - Leatherheads - Day Four

What an exciting day. Long and exhausting, but lots of fun. Met the morning van on time and was delivered to the Leatherhead hairdressing trailer within twenty minutes. Before they had a chance to complete my hairstyle, we were given a rehearsal call to the set. No make-up, hair in rollers, and housecoat to cover up the lack of costume. Aaaarrrggghhh!

I was walked over to the set and then sat at the secretary's desk, waiting to be called. A gentleman came out of the meeting room and I was struck with how familiar he was to me. I knew that face, but I just couldn't put a name to it. (It was too early. Everyone was in character preparation and trying to wake up.) It wasn't until I was back with the hairdresser and he came in and took the chair next to me that I realized it was my all time favorite stage actor, Jonathan Pryce! Omigod, this was going to be an exciting movie to be a part of -- that is, if I didn't make a complete fool of myself. Turns out, I wasn't needed for the rehearsal and, at 8:40, I met George for the briefest moment, as I was leaving. There went the grand entrance.

Where is the Speech-Checker When You Need It?

While waiting for the rehearsal, one of the crew members came over to chat. He asked if I had seen George's latest movie about Edward R. Murrow, and I said not yet. He said that was too bad because the secretary who played in that movie was extraordinary. This statement was followed with an explanation that almost every secretary in every movie that George Clooney directs was incredible and that I had some really big boots to fill, and, oh, yeah, he hoped I was up to it.

Is this what he does to each new actor? How very strange, to say something like that to an actor before they go onstage. I could only stammer, "Well, George must have seen something he liked with my audition, so I'll just go with my instincts."

I spent most of the morning waiting for my scene, and, when it was over, George went out of his way to tell me that it was exactly what he was wanted, and more. Then began the multiple takes from different points of view. I'm actually in a scene with three major actors -- George Clooney, Renee Zellweger (won't be on site until tomorrow), Jonathan Pryce, and John Krazinski. I can't believe it. Everyone was so busy, I had to pinch myself!

Foods Fit for a King, Queen, and Commissioner's Secretary

They had an incredible amount of food for the midmorning break, and when I mentioned it, I was told to just wait to see what lunch was going to be. Of course, most of the crew had been on the set since seven o'clock and had worked up quite an appetite. In fact, there were trays of fresh fruit and vegetables available on set throughout the day's shooting, with another hot meal brought in around four'clock for a tired and hungry crew.

Oh, wow, lunch was incredible. A wonderful variety of hot entrées to choose from, in addition to four different cold plates, fruit trays, and six desserts. But, for lunch, I chose the fresh salmon as my entrée. Mmmmmm, cooked to perfection. These delightful repasts were available for everyone involved with the film, not just primary actors.

Pretty Heels Hurt Just as Much as Ugly Shoes

The afternoon was spent repeating the morning scene from everyone's point of view. Renée Zellweger, herself, won't be in until tomorrow. Today's scenes have been done with her stand-in and it will all be done, again, in the morning, albeit, much faster, After that, we will be filming my other one liner and then I get to go home.

By the end of the day, I couldn't wait to get to my trailer and take off my character's heels. It had been a long time since I'd spent the day in heels and my poor little toes were screaming at me. What lightened the burden is that I was able to get a picture of me with Jonathan Pryce in costume and can look forward to getting others, tomorrow.

Sunday, Sushi, and Early to Bed

Sunday was a day of rest and that's what I did. After catching up on all the news, decided to go out and take advantage of the fresh air and beautiful weather. After touring the streets of Statesville, I found the K-Mart and bought different screws and washers for my knitting board to make the action smoother. Lo! Right there, in the same center was what turned out to be a great little Chinese restaurant.

Along with some sensational sushi, for a quiet little North Carolina town, the buffet they offered was filled with all my favorite things, each one cooked to perfection. I took advantage. When the bill came, imagine my surprise to find that the whole thing only came to $5.75! Had I entered a time warp!?! Some rip in the fabric of the universe? If only there were a way to transfer that price back to my world and time! If only we could steal the chef! If only one could eat Chinese food, every day! I know. I know. There are some of you that do, but I can't let go of other favorites, either. It's always something.

Decided to go to bed early (early for me, anyway) since my ride to the location was arriving at 6:55 in the morning. I really am getting excited about meeting George Clooney and the rest of the cast, and I must look my best.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Leatherheads - Weekend Breather - Day Two

This was an easy day. Nothing to do but amuse myself. After a great night's sleep, I wandered down to the lounge area for the free breakfast. While it was very filling, I decided that tomorrow morning I would actually take myself off to either the IHOP or some other restaurant to have my eggs cooked the way I prefer. The hotel eggs were baked and thoroughly cooked. Great for feeding hordes of hungry folk but no way to get anything prepared individually. This is not a Hampton Inn fault. I simply prefer my eggs done differently, so I need to take myself out.

Wandering up and down the halls looking for the ice machine, I notice that each and every door has a unique rural picture placed just above the room number. Every other room on my floor has an inanimate object; mine, however, has a cow over the Liberty Bell. I choose to believe management was not sending a subliminal message to me.

I decided to stretch out my day. Returned to my room and caught up on articles that had to be submitted to Bella Online. Spent an hour, or so, going over my lines for different interpretations. Reread the script and clarified my notes. This kind of hard work deserves a reward. Time to treat myself to an early matinee before coming back to watch the Kentucky Derby at the Outback.

The movie I decided to see was Blades of Glory with Jim Ferrel. Since the rest of the world was watching Spiderman 3, two other couples and I shared a private showing. It turned out to be a really funny movie with some great ice skating by Ferrel. I had read somewhere that Jim had done a lot of skating in his youth, so this was a great opportunity for him to display his gift.

An hour before the Kentucky Derby bugle call, I went to the Outback to enjoy a meal while watching the race. My choices were Street Sense followed by Nobizlikeshobiz. Was there any better sight than Street Sense feeding the rest of the field his dust?

There was only one sour moment, when I was ready to kill, and that was not two minutes before the race started. I had been dining in my booth for more than 45 minutes waiting for the race to start, when a group of four walked in and decided to stand right in front of me, blocking the television. I really had to bend my body for any kind of view. My server noticed, came over, and asked what was wrong. I asked why these new folks could stand right in front of me to watch the race, rather than sit in an available booth. Since I had paid approximately $40 for my meal and they bought $2.35 worth of beer, how come they were able to come in at the last minute and block my view. Since they were almost right on top of me, at least one of the women in the group heard me and she moved them back out of my line of sight.

She apologized and I accepted her apology, but it should have seemed obvious to almost anyone that you can't stand immediately in front of somebody watching a television without blocking their view. And, to walk into a place as if you own it, without regard to anyone else, is just plain rude.

But, all's well that ends well. My horse came in, the meal was fantastic, and this was a day to simply do a little of this and a little of that.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Day One on Location

After making sure that everything was taken care of at home, I eagerly set off for my wardrobe fitting at Leatherheads' wardrobe department in Statesville. What a delightful experience. Everyone I met was warm and friendly and made me feel very much at home.
The accounting office was enormous, yet, quietly hummed with efficiency. It was obvious that everyone knew their job and knew how to do it well. Whatever else, Mr. Clooney knows how to run a business.
When Wardrobe took me down to the living room to show me the choice of costumes, I immediately fell in love with a black dress that had a pointed lace insert. "That's the one I want," I told them. "Oh, no. There are several you will have to try on and we can make a decision, after that," she said. Being a good little soldier, that's what I did.
Well, the gods that be were smiling down on me, this morning. The only dress that fit me properly and would require absolutely no adjustments was the very one I wanted with all my heart and soul. After the choice was made, they let me know that it was the only one that had been imported from London and was a special favorite of everyone in Wardrobe.
The newest thing I discovered about filming was the requirement for either a physical social security card or your passport to verify citizenship. I thought I would have to go back home to get my passport because I had long since swallowed my Social Security card. (In the old days, we were told to memorize our number and then hide our card in a very safe place so that no one else would ever see it. I couldn't think of any place safer than mother Earth.)
It was only after much commiseration between me and their payroll rep, along with my giving my best sad hound dog impression, that I remembered a little card I had been given when I last renewed my passport. It looks just like a little credit card, so that you can carry it in your wallet, but it has all the right information on it that you need to give over to the authorities if you happen to lose your real passport while visiting another country. I asked some of my friends if they also had the duplicate card and most of them said they did not. So, I suggested they write to the US passport office and get one.
Before I could finally settle down, there was one more glitch. Even though my name was on the master list for a room at the hotel, I was the only one who didn't have a room. I called my contact and they sent someone over within 10 minutes to take care of it. Accommodations are beautiful and I was right across the street from a new multiplex theater, so I was able to catch up on all the films I had missed in the last couple of weeks.
I decided that the best way to settle in for this experience was to start with a nice, hot, bubblebath, and catch up on some much needed sleep.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Murphy's Law When Film Fame Calls

I have been wondering what was wrong -- why haven't I heard from the Letterheads' wardrobe department. In fact, in my insecurity, I have decided that they don't really need me and don't know how to tell me. This is patently absurd. I can't imagine anyone more capable of telling someone they don't need them, then a movie company. This is a business of rejection.

So, it was with great delight that I got the call on Wednesday asking if I couldn't come down on Friday for a fitting because they had forgotten to schedule me a few weeks ago, and there were no fittings allowed on shooting days. I would be filming on the following Tuesday through Wednesday, but they would put me up starting Friday. Time to hustle, get packed, and pay some bills.

Everything went smoothly until I tried to pay my Nextel bill online. This is something I have done regularly for the past year, or so. Without a glitch. Without a snag. Done in a second. So, I should expect the same experience, right? Suffice to say, in a word, that didn't happen.

Like most of those secured sites, Nextel has a page where you submit your payment, only once, and wait for the screen to clear giving you a confirmation number. Of course, that didn't happen. I made my payment, clicked submit, and then -- waited, interminably. I was able to leave my computer and accomplished other tasks, returning occasionally to check, only to find that the screen was still static. Finally, I simply closed the window, cross my fingers that the payment went through and was delighted to find a confirmation page pop-up on my screen. It's a good thing I have a high tolerance for stress.

And, it's a good thing that was the only online bill I had to pay.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Changes of Seasons and Things to Do

Gardening - It's time to be thinking about what I'll be doing with the summer vegetables and how to work around those early spring vegetables still blooming and producing food. There is no question that I have enough gardening space set up. Now, I have to make a decision about where I want to put what -- and, that is not my strongest point.

My self-watering planters are happily waiting for the transplants and, because all of a sudden we have had some unseasonably cool weather decide to show its face, I'm going to wait until after I have finished filming before sending them out.

Bowling - It's getting down to the wire for the winter league bowling and I find that I'm an interesting position, this year. On both teams, we have managed to finish sixth. It's all in how you look at it. The first league has 26 teams and so sixth place is very good. The second league has six teams and maintaining sixth place took considerable effort. (See? That's how you make lemonade out of lemons!) These are both daytime leaks and don't have anywhere near the stress that you can find on nighttime leagues, when the almost professional bowlers come out to play.

The best thing about bowling in the daytime has been discovering that I can still do most of the things I want to do in the evening without having to worry about finding substitutes. The best thing about bowling, for me, is that you can do it at any age and it just makes the feel good. Our oldest bowler just celebrated her 86th birthday. I can only hope that I'll still be doing my share of bowling at that age.

Clutter -I'm still trying to sort out craft supplies from pottery supplies from woodshop supplies, and it looks as though it may take the better part of the summer for me to finish. Even though I've made a big dent in getting rid of the trash, I'm still involved in a lot of back-and-forth between the two buildings, trying to find a final home for everything.

My favorite thing is actually getting rid of a lot of the stuff that I have been wanting to get rid of for, lo, these many years. With an incinerator close by, there's little chance of having to take back the decision, once I've dropped it into the flames. This is good.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Broccoli In; Brussel Sprouts Out!

The gardens have been really great, this year. Unfortunately, we've been having some very unseasonably hot days and this has really been stressing my broccoli. Out of eight very big plants, only one has really shaped up to looking like when you might buy at the grocery store.

Although the rest of the plants are very healthy, they would never be chosen for anyone's photo shoot. I have been in a constant battle against Mother Nature, deflowering my broccoli by pinching off the center heads, thereby causing any number of side shoots. Since the entire plant is edible, this has not bothered me, albeit, it's the last place I bring people to view the garden.

It really is a happy little garden, even though the broccoli, spinach, and lettuce keep trying to complete their lifecycle. We have been having absolutely delicious fresh garden salads almost every night, which is all that one can ask for. The garden peas have finally began to develop their stronger stalks and spread out their feelers though the nearest trellis string. Some have even chosen to use nearby onion stems. It doesn't matter. Everyone's happy.

Although I'm delighted with the growth of the brussels sprouts, I will be planted them in the same garden bed, next year. They offer a lot of shade to the lettuce and spinach but take up way too much room that I would rather give to more prolific plants. Gardening, like bowling, is nothing more than a series of adjustments.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tax Time Means Take a Break

It's been a hectic time and I've been spending most of the previous few weeks gathering together all of my tax information. I discovered the joy of filing my taxes online a few years ago and have been trying to get friends and family to do the same. But, they're a hard sell.

The biggest glitch, this year, because the 15th is on a weekend and, although the deadline has been extended to Monday night for the federal return, my state actually gives us until midnight on Tuesday. In either case, my only problem is seeing to it that my taxes are filed on time and then let my online tax service to forward them. Within seconds, I should get my confirmation numbers for both federal and state taxes, and then go back to the business of gardening and getting myself ready for Leatherheads and George Clooney.

If I had a brain in my head, I would have filed shortly after being sent my reminder to file my taxes by my service back in January. Of course, like so many, I'm right under the wire.

For those of you who plan to use an extension of time, this would be a good time to get it already and surprise both federal and state governments with an early filing of your extension. Happy taxes.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

George Clooney Time is at a Countdown

One of the nice things about being cast in a movie, months before you actually have to be there, is that you can spend so much time anticipating your actual shooting dates.

And, of course, with someone like George Clooney, you can always go online and keep up-to-date on sightings by the residents of the different locations he is using. It is amazing how many of my female friends want to be my helper, on location. I am only a little suspicious of their motivation and doubt seriously if my well-being is foremost in their minds.

Be that as it may, I am scheduled for sometime in May and I doubt seriously that I will have lost all the weight that I want to have lost by that time. Wardrobe has chosen to disregard my promise of a more svelte self. Alas, they know their business well.

I, however, shall continue to choose primarily vegetarian meals and surprise them all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Garden Beckons Before Bloggin

Okay, it's been a while since I've posted; but, I have a good reason. I have had to get the spring gardens planted and some new beds set up for rotating crops.

The large container garden has already provided two meals of "greens." I was able to combine radish and turnip greens, along with some green onions and three or four one-inch radishes, flavored with fresh lemon thyme. As old as she is, my sister had never had radish greens and was delighted with the taste.

We have had an unusually hot period, these last few weeks, and the growth has been phenomenal. I am just going to keep my fingers crossed that any upcoming cold snaps leave my little seedlings in the hothouse, alone. I don't know what's going on, this year, but the weather best straighten itself out.

I have been keeping a photographic history of this year's garden and will let you know when I have them posted to my website.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

'Be My Valentine' is Emotional Mine Field

Today is Valentine's Day and thoughts for all of us are on those we love and hope will love us back. Each age has its own level of apprehension. It doesn't get easier for those just starting relationships and getting it wrong can reduce you to doing -- nothing (which opens up a whole new can of worms) .

Kindergartners-3rd Graders: Parents help select full packages of heart-and-lace-filled cards to punch out and share with all classmates (none left out, here). This is our first social card-giving tradition. Most are funny and introduce our young to the fun we can have with our language with every pun-filled card. The agony of who gets which card is only second to the real feeling of not wanting to give any away but keep them all to ourselves! Mothers and Dads make sure we do the right thing. By third grade, we start winnowing down the number of cards given and only our very special friends and family members are asked to be our Valentines.

New Loves: These require a totally different approach. Turmoil coupled with desire for those just starting out -- how sentimental can you really be without scaring the new love away? How silly, before you're dismissed as too cavalier? Get TWO cards, one frivolous and one serious, just in case? Tricky, tricky ground.

And, what about presents? Candy is the official neutral ground -- and, it's the size that determines the depth of feeling -- unless, of course, the giver eats it all! Whose gift was it? Flowers can be a single rose to a roomful, or a special bouquet of your loves favorite flower.

A word to the wise: find out whether or not your love really does like chocolate. Because YOU do, doesn't mean everyone does. A gift of chocolates to someone who doesn't like them, or is allergic, says that you just grabbed the most convenient thing around and really don't care about their feelings. I, personally, have never really cared for chocolate. It's okay but I'm a salt person, preferring things tangy rather than sweet. The best present I ever received was a lemon-meringue pie with my Valentine card. It told me that my love really understood me and what I liked. Lots of points gained for this one.

More permanent gifts require serious thought. They should be kept light and general for new loves, saving the diamonds, pearls, and Cadillac cars for those who know they are in a more committed relationship.

The one thing you don't do is send the SAME card to all your new loves, if you're still playing the field. That's just tacky.

Relationships over three months old: You should have a pretty good idea about the type of card to give, here, but it's still a very tricky place to be. Is there a real direction? More serious? Less? Both on the same page? Is this a true love for you? Ready to almost let go? The Valentine you give can add fuel to a fire or pour water all over it. Not giving a card, at all -- well . . .

Married: A time to let is all hang loose and gift cards that are funny, poignant, frivolous, full of deep meaning. Gifts are across the board, from the light-hearted to the moon. Having a special evening out at your favorite intimate restaurant, reminiscing about your love and what it means to you, all help strengthen your bond.

What's important is that you don't let it become just another day because you're trying to save money. Try to never save when it comes to chances of expressing your feelings for each other. These are the joys that make the hard times, easier. If money is tight, create your own cards and give "to do" lists. You can always save a dollar, here and there, during the year to have enough for Valentine's Day.

Whatever you do, don't give a really goofy Valentine without an accompanying serious one. Even though the receiver will say it's all right, they don't feel it in their hearts. Give love and, if you don't know how to say the words, take the time to shop early enough to find a card that will say it for you. You might even want to take a page from the Kindergartners and send all your friends one of those pun-filled cards as a "just keeping in touch" moment.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Trellises Shouldn't Cost a Fortune

Thought I'd do a follow-up on the trellises. Using the found materials, after clearing up the woods, I was left with three cattle gates, lots of metal fence posts, and 2"x4" fencing. So, that's going to be the permanent trellising in the back section of the yard for grapevines, raspberries, gourds, etc.

For the inside back yard, will use pvc pipes, painted with fusion. These will be easy to take down in winter and leave the space open for additional layers of composting material. Here's what I'm going to do, just in case you want to try it, yourself. Just remember that most of my materials were "found" and available for free. So, I don't mind paying for the pvc trellises, which will be under $25 for all three beds and will last for many years.

Full-grown plants weigh plenty when full of stems, leaves, and fruit or vegetables. You need sturdy support but you don't need much more than 2"x2" posts or 1.5" pvc piping. First and foremost, use what you have, which includes old ladders, stepstools, door frames, whatever. Bring it all together by painting the same color and folks will think you're really clever.

To make two pvc trellises, you'll need:
  • four (4) 10-foot 1-1/4" pvc pipes
  • one (1) 8-foot 1-1/2" pvc pipe
  • four (4) 4-foot or 6-foot rebars
  • four (4) 1-1/4" pvc elbows
  • two (2) 1-1/4" pvc straight connectors
  • twine
  1. Cut a 3' section off each 10-foot 1-1/4" pipe.
  2. Connect two 3' sections with one straight connector to make crossbar
  3. Cut 8-foot 1-1/2" pipe into four (4) 2' pieces.
  4. Drive (use rubber mallet or place a board over end of pipe and use regular hammer) two 2' pvc pieces into ground, the width of one connected crossbar and elbow at each end. (approx. six feet)
  5. Drive one rebar into center of pipe, leave at least two feet exposed above top edge
  6. Position and drive 7' 1-1/4" pvc pipe over rebar and into 2' 1-1/2" pipe
  7. Place elbows on each top and attach crossbars (see pix)
  8. Attach twine horizontally every 8" between sides of each trellis. Attach a length of twine every 8" on crossbar and connect with a knot at every horizontal meeting to bottom of trellis. Repeat every 8" across crossbar.

The beauty of these trellises is that they are incredibly portable! Create different widths around the yard and use 5-gallon buckets for your plantings. Next year, move the trellis to a different part of the yard and try something new! Put different trellising plants on either side. Train one to grow straight up and the other to extend vertically for an interesting effect. I'll be doing this with some warmth-loving climbers next to the white side of my workshop so they can enjoy the reflected heat! Now, to go root some cuttings!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

February - Planting and Planning

February has brought the cold and wind to NC and lots of garden planning to take advantage of a full 10-month growing pattern. All my seeds have arrived and it's lasagna gardening, all the way!

Have finished my two planned beds (4'x12') in just under three hours for the first 12" of layering using the lasagna method and should finish the rest over the next few days. They're predicing a real drop in temperature, so I want to get these layers really wet to start the breakdown.

Once my camera arrives, I'll post some sequential pix on the website and post just one or two, here. Still have to create my trellises. The back copse of trees has provided me with all kinds of wonderful trellis materials and planting pots! And, still carted away about 2400 pounds of debris off to the dump!

When finished, all the different trellises and 5-gallon buckets will be painted the same color of metallic bronze using my favorite of all paints Krylon Fusion . It covers and becomes a part of everything you spray it on, so it simply will not chip off plastics.

All the seeds that can go directly into the ground are being first set out on a single sheet of 12"x12" newspaper in their finished thinned placement and will be covered with a second sheet of newspaper that's been 'painted' with a very thin flour-paste solution. (The newspaper will keep down the weeds and ultimately become part of the soil; the paste will hold the seeds in position and will add nutrients to the soil, as well.) The benefit of this is that you can use the whole sheet for square-foot gardening or cut in strips for efficient placement in and around other plants. One 12"x12" sheet will hold 64 radishes, carrots, green onions -- well, you get the idea. BUT, you don't have to thin, just put in place and cover with a light mulch.

By the way, you don't ever want to leave the newsprint open to the air! It will become papier mache and take forever to disintegrate!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project In My Life

Innocently uttering just four little words, "Okay, I'll do it," a short while ago, I set in motion a path for myself that has drawn me into deep reflection. Performing on stage, film, and clubs, for the better part of my life, this new role was accepted without worry but little background with its significance.

My agreement in reply to a friend's request to play the Mother in a production she was involved in and which she buffered with, "You know, just a few lines here and there --but it's a good play and you'll be helping the kids out . . ." How could I refuse?

What I had agreed to was participation in The Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project, the adaptation by actor and director Tim Robbins of Sr. Helen Prejean's award-winning book, "Dead Man Walking." In addition to the award-winning film, Mr. Robbins has created a powerful drama but -- contrary to most playwrights -- only allows productions through college and high-school theater partnership programs that include community outreach with workshops meant to explore how people feel about the death penalty through examination of their own belief systems. For what one community has done with the project in New Orleans, go here.

Well, the "little bit" I'm doing has grown into three small parts -- Mother of Sr. Prejean, a reporter, and a support group attendee -- along with scene-balancing "landscape" tableaux with the other actors also playing multiple roles. Not impossible; been done, before -- BUT, we are never allowed to leave the stage! It seems that our Director for the February 1-10 Cardinal Gibbons High School production loves this form of theatre and we get to do it, in spades!

Woe is me! I've discovered that age is definitly creeping up. Not as limber as I've been, my feet are screaming by the end of rehearsals. Of course, that's probably because rehearsals seem to take forever. The actual show is over before you know it!

Once you have performed in a Justice Theater Project, you are a member for life! So, I'll be leading a couple of workshops, once the play run is over as part of my outreach service. This is not proselytizing -- no pressure for anyone to change their beliefs, simply a forum to examine them and know why they feel as they do about the death penalty. (This is definitely when I wish I were 18, again. I knew everything, then! and decisions were so much easier.)

We open Thursday, which is just about when I'll have everything memorized!

Get Well, Soon, B.B.King!

B.B. King, (81! and still performing!) had to take a few days off to recuperate from a bout of the flu this past weekend. I know this is going to cost him some concert dates, but, more than that, it's going to cost us the Thrill of seeing him perform as much as possible before he has to leave us and entertain the angels.

What can you say about a man who has been given such a beautiful gift, that hasn't been said, before? I did have the thrill of meeting him, personally, more than 15 years ago, at a music convention in Anaheim. He was gracious and giving to all the young musician hopefuls bombarding him with questions about the "secret" of his success. Secret? That's an easy one -- he loves Lucille (probably, more than anything (one?) else. She's his life, his music, his soul food and she returns the favor by singing, oh, so sweetly, when in his hands.

Last month, he received the Presidential Medal of Honor at the White House. President Bush simply shared what we already know, "America loves the music of B.B. King, and America loves the man, himself."

Hurry up and get better, B.B. The world needs you; America needs you; I need you.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Garden Eyes Too Big for Garden Tummy?

Well, I've done it. The first lasagna gardening has been put in place, in just under two hours, please, and is a respectable 4 x 12 foot. It was just as easy as the book promised.

I'm so excited about this, that I'm going to be putting in two more gardens over the weekend, along the back and side fencing, for my herbs and cut flowers. What was really fun was watching the expression on the faces of the two fellows that helped me clean out the copse of trees in the back. You would have thought I was showing them a parade of blue elephants!

And, lucky me, there were several bales of old straw that were perfect as compost. They were only recognizable as straw on the outside. The slightest movement caused them to fall apart and reveal an almost completely decomposed center, which was perfect for the lower levels of the layering process. Since I'm going to be building each bed up to a height of 24 inches, I'll save the top five layers for real peat moss and soil.

We've been given a respite from cold, harsh, days, so I should be able to finish everything before another blast of cold weather is upon us. I would like to have at least one good rainy, snowy, coverage over each bed to hasten the decomposition of everything before I start planting in February.

During that rush of cold, I'll be getting my planting sheets ready, using newspaper and a very thin flour solution to position the seeds in their final resting place. Although this isn't mentioned in the lasagna gardening book, it's something I have used in other container gardens. By putting at least two seeds together for syzygy, I'm able to cut out the thinning and transplanting step for almost all of my veggies. This is simply a great way to garden in retirement.

Will be picking up a new digital camera over the weekend so that I can post some pictures at my Creative Handz site. A fast Google on lasagna gardening will bring up any number of sites that show the process, so I don't feel too bad about not sharing mine. I do, however, want to chronicle each garden' s progress.

Now, back to my catalogs.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bathing Suit Fiasco on Apprentice

Okay. The less said about this show, the better. Unless something truly outstanding occurs on this season's Apprentice, I'm just going to do little dribs and drabs. My dribs and drabs for today is the creation of a bathing suit line task. Nice little reality show overview here.

Back to the bathing suit. I don't think a team member from either side should have been involved in modeling during their task. This year's Apprentice is showing less strategizing with real leadership initiative than previous years, and I would have preferred that the teams have others do the modeling, while they focused on creating the best presentation. (Am I wrong or are the teams not getting any budget money for tasks, this year?)

I'm still not sure why Donald fired Carey, whether for lack of business acumen or Carey's incredible body displaying the bathing suit to its best advantage. My biggest problem with Carey is his agenda seemed more self-promotion than teamwork participation. Donald spent so much time attacking the colors of the suit, rather than the cut, that I simply became confused as to just why he was firing him. Even replaying the moment hasn't helped. I just missed it and will have to go to the network for a breakdown.

I'm missing a lot from this year's show. I'm missing the professionalism, the decisions made as a result of solid team discussion, and a general lack of a willingness to take charge. I've spoken to the tent issue, and I simply won't go there, anymore. I miss -- well, I just miss the initial premise of The Apprentice before Trump went Hollywood.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Rosie, The Donald, Fussin' and Feudin'

I don't really want to get into the feud between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell but I can't let it simply pass by without some comment. While the immediate fallout is more publicity for both stars' television shows, it's been interesting to watch each member as they conduct themselves whilst it plays out.

If my chronology is correct, it was Rosie who attacked The Donald, first, passing judgment on his decision to allow one of his own employees (Miss USA Tara Connor) to retain her title after some adverse publicity . Using the broadest sense of the term "employee" of Mr. Trump, if he is the owner of the pageant and all public relations activities that take place, that winner is in the employ of Mr. Trump during the year of her reign.

I don't disagree with Rosie's (or, anyone's) right to comment but she is the one that brought it down to peckish childish behavior by attempting to impersonate and demean Mr. Trump's hair style and manner of speaking. (As an aside, I did notice that Ms. O'Donnell has been making her own hair more attractive since the feud started.) This was somehow supposed to validate her remarks; but, it simply made her look foolish and attention-grabbing, to me.

Any employer has the right to decide whether or not an employee remains within their organization after carefully reviewing what detrimental effect, if any, the employee's behavior would have to the company, should they remain employed. Reigning queens, whether beauty pageant or country leader, are expected to behave in an exemplary way, like it or not, as they represent much more than themselves.

After carefully reviewing Ms. Connor's behavior, Mr. Trump decided she could retain her title and continue representing the USA, as long as she received help for her alleged drug and alcohol abuse, which was made readily available to her. Rosie likened her behavior to Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan's public debacles. Excuse me? -- as if the two were the same situation.

Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan are not representing the United States with their public appearances, they are simply two young women who happen to be the daughters of very wealthy people raised without proper guidelines and scruples. (In contrast, Mr. Trump's children exhibit class, intelligence, and a true regard for what their position in life means, setting a wonderful example for our own children.)

In watching The View since Rosie's arrival, it appears as though she thinks this is her show and the others are her windowdressing. Almost every remark made is self-aggrandizing and meant to generate even more personal publicity. Team participation seems foreign to her and is lacking in most of the discussions. In truth, she is so strident, I'm often compelled to find another channel, just to get away from her noise.

I would suggest that she mind her own business, but that is simply not within her character. Since, with the networks, it's all about the money, it would be fruitless to hope she doesn't get her own television program. I prefer my talk show hosts having some semblence of class and that's a hands-down win for Ellen DeGeneres, any day of the week.

Bottom line, I'm sure that for as long as both of them have shows on television, they will find a way to keep the publicity fires burning. But, for this particular feud, I'm with The Donald.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Planning This Year's Garden

It's my favorite time of year. Time to pull out the old seed catalogs and plan for this year's garden. In addition to the catalogs, I've also discovered a great new source for seeds on eBay at very reasonable prices. And, they're great, but you just can't beat the slow turning of seed catalog pages next to a warm fire in the dead of winter. This will be my first full-scale gardening at the new house.

In addition to the large container garden, I'm going to have two smaller ones and two or three long lasagna gardens for grapes, pole beans and peas, and cucumbers. Have found all kinds of goodies in the copse of trees in the back and will use them for interesting supports. Cool-weather crop planting is just around the corner and seeds have been ordered.

I fell in love with the book by Patricia Lanza. It's easy to read, the instructions are clear, and you're a convert by the middle of the book. Picked up some Lime and Peat Moss, today, and the Good Lord has given me plenty of natural fibers. This is good.

Now, comes the great time of making charts and signs, and getting all my ducks in a row so that everything will run smoothly.

Don't know what was going on, but there were also three large plastic drums I'm going to use as rain catchers, too. Decided to make them art objects, as well, and will start some sketches. These are pretty big drums, so collecting enough water shouldn't be a problem. They're selling around $30.00, so that's a savings of $90, right there. Just to be sure, I'm going to give them a cleaning with bleach and paint a big "NOT POTENT - DO NOT DRINK!" sign on the sides.

Making the final decision of where to place the new gardens will take some time. Maybe a nice cup of tea will help.

Two People to Get Flyer? - The Apprentice 6

Oops! Forgot to post! Last week's Apprentice showed that, once again, this is going to be an interesting year. I've already decided that The Donald and I disagree about some things -- what else is new? -- and I would really like to know his reasoning behind certain choices.

For instance, what is the point of having the contestants spend the night in tents, if they haven't won? That seriously puts the losing team at a far greater disadvantage than if they had simply lost, regrouped, and applied themselves to the next task.

I would imagine that most of them have not spent the night with the elements since childhood. Having to physically and emotionally adjust to such conditions, while attempting to apply for an incredibly prestigious job, creates an unnecessary and offensive handicap. The fact that the teams lose by such small margins makes it a punishment beyond what is right. The difference was $118. Granted, they shouldn't have lost but it certainly isn't something requiring such a harsh remedy.

The winning team not only gets a special treat but is also given a complete night's rest with all the comforts they have been accustomed to (plus, the richness of surroundings) in their own personal lives. There is nothing to indicate that working for Donald Trump will require employees to sleep in pitched tents at any job site. This is obviously a ratings ploy and nothing more.

Watching both teams operating their respective car washes, I was struck by Frank's inability to show true leadership. His resume indicates a self-made man, not necessarily a lot of experience with teamwork. I was stunned when he took off to get flyers and then followed that up with running off to get posters made, after Martin pointed out the problem passing vehicles were having trying to read the 8.5 x 11 flyers he bought. I overlooked his obnoxious, loud, arrogant voice, thinking he may have shown some professional judgment. Right.

The most apparent thing to me, in watching both teams, was too much education overwhelming the need of elbow grease to get the job done. Several men refused to remove their business clothing and get involved in the actual hand work needed. Almost immediately, the decision was made to let the "girls" wash the cars, while the "men" did the selling. Neither team had the brains to hire workers to wash and detail the cars, so they could focus on moving customers through completion faster and increase sales.

Although I look forward to seeing Frank go, Martin really showed that he wasn't a team player and, from the beginning, chose not to participate unless forced to by another member of his team. He kept telling the Donald how good he was and, yet, never backed it up with action when it was called for during the task.

My final disagreement with the Donald has to do with letting a team leader continue on in that same position until a team loses, in addition to letting them sit on his right-hand side in the boardroom. This establishes one person as a leader and takes away from anyone else having an opportunity to show their own skills and leadership which, I thought, was the whole point of The Apprentice.

What appears fair, to him, simply means that one particular team works well together but doesn't necessarily mean that that particular leader is that great. The team is working together because they each, now, rather foolishly, thought they would be given a chance to prove themselves as leaders during one of the tasks.

To have that winningleader sit next to him in the board room is ludicrous. Why not simply say that that person is now the new apprentice? How can you be involved in a hiring process and have the applicant sit on your decision-making board prior to being hired? This is wrong, on so many levels, that it boggles the mind.

I simply can't wait for show number two.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Greasing the Skids to Broadway

Watched NBCs "Grease, You're the One That I Want," auditions and I'm still in shock. I haven't yet fancied up to the idea of America choosing its Broadway Stars ala American Idol, but, obviously, this seems to be the trend. So, I won't belabor that.

What does bother me, however, about the process is the little regard some of those auditioning have for the viewing audience. The prescreening should have eliminated almost any contestant above the age of 25 to play the roles of Sandy and Danny, teenagers, on the live stage. Period.

Although time can appear to stand still visually, the human body and movement rarely retains the free motion of a teenager. I know. I know. Theater is illusion and older people have played younger parts for years. But, audiences aren't stupid, and the search should be for the most talented teenagers America has to offer.

Times have changed. Our young are being schooled in the performing arts, barely out of toddler clothes, and are quite skilled. For this revival production of Grease, I should think we would have more than enough young teenaged performers to choose from, without having to resort to using people too old for the part, as if the theater were in some backwater community putting on a show after the drug store closes.

Of course, this would take away from the joy of watching auditionees make total fools of themselves. Not that they can't dance or sing, (and did it, quite well, in their youth) but even the most casual glance in the mirror should tell them they are just too old for the part. Although, in that regard, I would have to agree that the show would be less entertaining for the viewers. But, come on, if these old fogeys are going to audition for part, the least they could do is look like a teenager.

I'm reminded of a production of Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare's Avon Theatre, where the actor playing Juliet couldn't have been a day under 62! Try focusing on that story and feeling sorry for a 62-year-old with parent problems.

If they want it to sparkle, let the new Sandy and Danny reflect the blossom of youth. They are out there and we want to see them.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Reality Shows Are About Whose Reality, Again?

Been rewatching my tapes of the So You Think You Can Dance series and have fallen in love, again, with Benji. I hold firmly to my belief that that young man can dance to anything and doesn't have any bones connected to anything! Funny how no one really wanted him in the beginning. Doesn't it make you wonder what planet the judges come from, other than trying to revive old careers? The public invariably picks someone other than the one they declared would be the winner. Hmmmm. What does that say about the judges, about the critics, about Americans? Do we really care less about quality and training and more about looks?

I know these shows are all about entertaining us but aren't they also supposed to be about finding the absolute best performer? With American Idol just around the corner, Ruben Studdard comes to mind. He was all right. A perfect karaoke singer who was capable of following a tune. There was literally nothing special about him -- except, maybe, his girth.

The man would literally just stand there and sing in his sing-along-to-the-radio voice and Simon, Randy, and Paula would fall all over themselves trying to outdo each other in giving him accolades.

Good grief! The American viewers put him in the bottom three to go home at least three times! Yet, the judges kept telling us how dumb we were and how great Ruben was. I recall one session, especially, where they were doing the songs and all three judges attacked Clay Aiken for not moving around enough on stage during his performance. He was followed by Ruben, who barely moved, at all, was sweating like crazy, voice raw and cracking, and they went crazy with their praise and never once mentioned that he should have moved around more on the stage to try to engage his audience. Double standard?

Today, his records aren't doing the bang-up job expected and he's just won a lawsuit against his manager for mishandling of funds. Fantasia Barrino's records are selling in the middle range, and Clay Aiken has already returned to North Carolina. There'll be tours, but nothing like it was in the beginning.

Kelly Clarkson has moved into the stratosphere, to stay. She's the full package. In my opinion, this proves that you can't shove "stars" down the people's throats.

Those in the final top ten get their piece of the pie, as well. The runners-up have managed to carve their own niche in the music world, as well. Carrie Underwood has taken the Country world by storm and you can hear her latest Don't Forget to Remember Me song here. And Diana DeGarmo, from the 2004 American Idol season is now touring the country in Broadway: The Musical after debuting on Broadway in Hairspray.

My point is, the people make the final judgment, once all the hoopla of a TV show is over. It's a great platform for aspiring stars and they should understand that, from the beginning. Those that treat it as a perfectly normal event in the course of their lives are foolish, indeed.

Ask anyone who's been working their whole lives for recognition how easy it really is -- and, 22 years old isn't someone's whole life. Taylor Hicks (another dark horse, according to the judges) is on the far edge of a very young group, all things considered, and has really paid his dues. And, he was my favorite! Although, I will admit it helped in validating that grey hair was perfectly okay; especially, since it knocked about ten years off my life! But, truth be told, I like to see winners who really know what the struggle is all about finally have good things happen to them.

So, the new season starts this month and I'll be watching, along with everyone else. I'll pick my favorites and see how close my pick comes in at the end. And, that will be fun. But, nothing compares to watching the auditions! Nothing. It's the gravy on a great talent audition show.

Of course, I'm also laying in lots of popcorn for the Donald's show, The Apprentice, on Sunday. These are my three favorite reality shows, So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol, and The Apprentice -- because, they actually lead up to a long-term positive change in the applicant's life.

Most of the other shows offer celebrity fame, which means we're going to be forced to watch them for the rest of their lives show up for guest appearances on whatever the current talk/game show might be, not because of anything they did requiring skill, craft, or intelligence, showing they have at least put some of their own effort into the competition, but because they were pretty to look at during their fifteen minutes of fame. Aaarrrggghhhh.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Bringing It All Together

It's been coming for some time. After my server crash, it was time to rethink and break down the big site and create more focused ones for the creative interests. This blog will cover all new things happening, along with observations, and a reprint of older blogs that fit with current news. There'll be news about what's happening at,, and

I'm definitely not one for New Year's resolutions. Too much stress and I still have too much trouble trying to locate my glasses, much less the list. (No, it would be too long to commit to memory!) Besides, I invariably let myself down by the third week and start chopping at the list and, well, it's too personally humiliating to face my failings so soon into the new year.

But, if you've got some really great plans, you've got my congratulations and best wishes for staying committed -- at least, through Valentine's Day!

A Holiday Mix of Joy and Sorrow

The Holidays were definitely a mixed blessing for me, this year. It all started with my Christmas ornaments being stolen from my storage shed. The ONLY thing taken was my box of hand-made ornaments, one for each year of my family's growth, with so many special ones made by my daughters as they grew up.

My favorite thing was to sit in the quiet of the evening, enjoying each ornament and the memories attached to it. Now, that's gone. I almost put up a tree. Really. I almost did. Sadly, I found I couldn't face my tree without my memories -- it was just too open a wound.

We grieve for the loss of our loved ones and, yes, our pets. But, it isn't until we face the loss of those inanimate objects holding so many dear memories that we understand the links of love we have to times, places, people, and tokens of that love. The simple act of decorating one's home for any holiday is to remind us closer to those we love and all that we share.

Those ornaments shared and handed down from generation to generation, though tattered and worn, are the most prized. Mine, like yours, also had irreplaceable photos as part of some of those made by other loving hands. Why would anyone steal someone else's ornaments? It boggles the mind. But, according to the police, it's because they're probably going to be sold by someone else as one of their own handmade ornaments at some roadside stand or flea market.

Well, I didn't go looking for them. The idea of my doing that was just totally unacceptable. So, although I had absolutely wonderful holidays with family and friends, my favorite little tree ceremony has been put off until next year. Will start to work on some new ornaments this year, making new memorials for those I've lost.

There are so many others who have lost so much more than I that it's almost sinful to complain, and, for that, I apologize. But, I did want to wish all of you a great 2007 with lots of opportunities to make happy memories.