Sunday, May 31, 2009

Post-Holiday Humbug

Yes. I know that, traditionally, the "humbug" holiday is Christmas. But I couldn't think of anything that would make interesting alliteration with "Post-Vacation." And... well... "humbug" is kind of how I'm feeling today. 

Our flight home from LA was great, yesterday. I simply wedged my knees into the back of the seat in front of me and napped most of the way. We even got in a few minutes early. Christopher's sister Elizabeth picked us up with sodas and homemade Cassis truffles in hand (some times life is so rough), and we headed home to order pizza and settle in for a good night's sleep. 

I woke up late this morning (after 9, even!), and one of the first things I noticed was that my sunburn, although turning into a slight tan on my arms, was starting to peel on my forehead. I guess that was a definitive clue that vacation was over. It was definitely the precursor to my "bleh" mood. Before the memories - like the suntan -  fade too far into the past, though, I hope to fill in a few blanks of the past week so that I can appropriately rave about it.

Let's see... Where to start...

Sunday, after arriving at LAX, Christopher and I met up with my sisters and their families. We split up and headed for the Point Vicente lighthouse in Palos Verdes. From there, we drove "over the hill" to the Korean Friendship Bell (I found great pictures of it on this blog). The views were amazing. We could even make out the silhouette of Catalina Island, which sits about 26 miles off-shore (and will become important, shortly). I've heard that, in winter when the air is clearer, you can really see the island, but even just seeing the shadow from end to end was impressive. We were greeted at Angel's Gate Park (where the Korean Bell is) by people flying all sorts of kites. Yes, it was a tad breezy, but it was gorgeous.

I know it will make some of you very happy to know that we ended our day with a big "family dinner" at In-N-Out Burger. It was Christopher's first time at In-N-Out, and it was really fun to just kick back and let the kids be loud and enjoy it all. 

Monday, being Memorial Day, seemed like a wise day to head into downtown LA for some touristing. We headed for Olvera Street (regarded as the "birthplace of the City of Los Angeles"), not only for its larger historical bearing, but also because we often went there with my grandparents when we were little kids. The shops are pretty much the same as they were way back when. Possibly a few more of the tchotzkes were in plastic, instead of wood, but the feel of the place was remarkably the same. After lunch (and a short guitar serenade), we walked over to Union Station to check out the really rather amazing - and peaceful - architecture. Our final stop of the day was a walking tour through Chinatown which, sadly, hasn't held up nearly as well over the past few decades. 

Of course, Memorial Day wouldn't be Memorial Day without a cookout. So we ended the day with steaks (for which we had braved Costco the day before) on the grill, and some quiet time (well... relatively speaking, at least).

I'll try to get some photos to accompany the coming travelogue blogs. In the meantime, here is a picture of some of our spring flowers.

They surprised us a little to become probably the most attractive of our small-garden plantings. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sunburned, but Happy

I know that I've been out of touch most of this week, but I have a good reason.

You see, Christopher and I are currently in the Los Angeles area visiting my sisters and their families and playing all kinds of tourist. It's funny, really. Last year when we were in Montreal with limited internet access, it was easier to make time to go online. This year, when there have been multiple computers within typing distance, we've haven't been finding time to use them. Maybe that says something about how busy we've been...

And we have been busy. This is Christopher's first trip to LA (not including a layover in LAX a few years ago), so we've been driving all over the place seeing the sights. From the mission at San Juan Capistrano to the Griffith Park Observatory, from Catalina Island to the Hollywood Hills, we've covered a lot of ground. And I need to get myself moving, because today we're off to Disneyland to celebrate my birthday. 

We head back to Minneapolis tomorrow, and I'll work on getting some travelogue updates posted on here as soon as I can.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Is Anybody There?"

No. That title isn't a blatant attempt to get people to respond to my posts. (Really. It's not. Although... Now that you mention it, I wouldn't complain if I heard from some of you more often....) Instead, that title is the same as the title of a movie I went to last week Tuesday. 

"Is Anybody There?" is a relatively quiet little British movie which focuses on a young boy living in a house which has become an old age home as his mother has been searching for a way to bring in more money. The boy is obsessed with the idea of searching for ghosts -- and feels he is living in the perfect place to do just that. He frequently hides under the beds of residents on the verge of death to record their last breaths. 

Into this relatively-peaceful home comes The Amazing Clarence, an aging magician with memory issues, played by Michael Caine. He stirs up the boy's imagination, as well as refusing to let the other residents simply "go calmly into that good night." The title of the movie comes from the seance Clarence arranges for the young boy's benefit. It goes very well, thanks to some stage trickery.

I'd love to say that this is a surprising or exciting or stunning movie, but it's not. It is, however, quite a nice film. I tear-ed up a couple of times, even. 

Overall grade: B. It's nice enough, but sometimes nice isn't enough.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Quiet Saturday. Yeah. That's it. Quiet.

Christopher and I planned this to be a nice quiet day, since tomorrow we're heading for Los Angeles for a week. The general plan was to hang out at home, get caught up on laundry and a few other tasks to put the house in order, then spend the evening packing so that we can head for the airport early tomorrow morning. 

Of course, we all know how quiet Saturdays go. 

I found myself at Target, Home Depot and Menard's, and the new Sonic drive-in, all before noon. I had high hopes for a quick trip around the errands, after having a speedy visit to Target. But I had obviously not been paying attention to the fact that this was the first day of the three-day Memorial Day weekend. Sonic is so new in the location I went to, that I heard the guy on the speaker in the drive-through say that it was his first day. The speed of the service made this all blatantly obvious. 

In the home improvement stores, "service" was pretty much unheard of. At Home Depot, three different people told me that the shelves I wanted could be found in the aisle I had already been through. Even on the third check, they still weren't there. At Menard's the service wasn't awful, but that may simply be because I knew where to find what I was looking for and didn't need help.  In all, it took me an hour and a half for what I thought would be about half an hour's worth of errand-running.

Home again, I found Christopher beginning to pack, and so I did the same. Then, mid-afternoon, we were back to trying to get everything in order so that we can run away for a week and his sister (who is house-sitting) won't have to deal with anything. As I write this, it is about 8pm, and we're finally getting to sit down and relax. I guess I should be happy that it's only 8.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Mini-Posting

Okay... A few quick notes for today:

a) The weather has gotten great the past few days. Perfect late spring weather with temps in the 70s. The garden has even perked up. We've got the door and windows open. These few weeks each year are wonderful. 

b) Christopher and I have rediscovered the joys of watching Cybill, now that it's showing on Lifetime. We've been recording it in the mornings and watching it in the evenings. It's really fun, even if it is pretty dated.

c) I'm happy to say that the plants that I thought were dead and, yet, I found to be alive and so replanted (which was hard to do with my fingers crossed), are all doing fairly well. I hope that they'll continue to do so.

d) Christopher and I are off to Los Angeles (and the general area) for a week beginning on Sunday. It's the first time this year that we've gone anywhere together. Details to follow. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What's Up With The Weather?

You may or may not have checked out the weather in Minneapolis the past few days, but it has been HOT. And not just hot for Minneapolis in mid-May, but seriously hot. We're talking mid-90s. As I'm sitting here at a little after 9 at night, it's still 83 degrees. To put this in perspective, it might be good for me to mention that in Dallas, Orlando, and Los Angeles it is currently in the low 70s. Yep. It's hot out.

Oh. And the wind has been outrageous. The sky this afternoon was the color of brown/grey/blue that you see in the sky at the beginning of "The Wizard of Oz." And, yes, I know that the opening to that movie is frequently shown in sepia tone these days, but that is exactly what I thought of while driving home today. 

The worst thing about this hot, dry, windy weather is that, last weekend, we planted a bunch of new things in our gardens. When I came home from work this afternoon, everything was wilting. The formerly perky poppies had collapsed in a heap. The crisp peppers were limp and wilted. I walked the yard with a watering can and put the hose next to our new shrub willow to let it soak. 

A couple of years ago, just after we had planted a gorgeous little willow tree in the backyard, we had a week of 90-degree-plus temps, and the tree was never the same. We had to replace it the following summer. But that was in the late summer, at least. We were doing our best to avoid that problem this year by doing all of our planting early in the year when temps typically range from lows in the 50s to highs in the 70s. 

And then the last two days happened.

Even in the house our plants are wilting. We've refused to turn on the air conditioning, since it just doesn't make sense this time of year. Yes, I know that not turning on the a/c when it's 90 degrees out in May is like refusing to put on a coat when it's 30 degrees outside because it's just not supposed to be cold. But that's why we've had fans on for the past couple nights. 

We've been told we're going to have a storm system go through tonight and into tomorrow. That should drop the temperature, along with dropping some rain. If not, I'll be watering the yard tomorrow. And whether the air conditioner is on or not, it's way too early in the year to start watering the lawn. 

No. Really.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Of Snow, Lutes, and Seasonally-Depressed Cooks...

Christopher and I went to see Paula Poundstone in concert last night at the Guthrie in Minneapolis. 

She talked, basically non-stop, from 7:30 until 10:45, with one 15-minute intermission. And we laughed, basically non-stop, that whole time.

She talked of snow and Duluth and... due to mis-hearing an audience response... of people being "on Superior" as an attitude problem. 

She talked to a guy in the front row who said he is a cook "for now" but later admitted that he'd been a cook for 8 years. She wasn't sure if he understood what "for now" really alluded to.

She spent a long time discussing the manufacture and market-importance of lutes -- not to be confused with flutes -- with a gentleman who makes lutes and violins while his wife works in the office. Much of this was accompanied by her own brand of lute music and a slight jig. It made sense at the time.

She went off on tangents about her kids and the set of "Caroline, or Change" which she was performing on, and discussed how many different sets of directions she has seen on the boxes of Pop-Tarts. (Do you know where your "toasting appliance" is?)

We laughed. We nodded in agreement. We even enjoyed ourselves enough to (mostly) ignore how uncomfortable the seats are in the theater. We left ever-so-happy to have been there, and then came home and were absolutely pooped. 

I'm not sure how Christopher is doing at work today. I know that I'm not getting nearly as much done as I was hoping to. But... wow... if you ever the chance to see Paula Poundstone live, all of the pain of the next day is definitely worth it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Surprise-filled Week

It has, indeed, been a week of surprises. 

Some of them have been good (I got a new assignment at work which will, hopefully, be the start of some decent cash-flow), some have been not so good (one friend lost a job, another friend lost a good friend to a freak auto accident). But last night was a very good surprise.

Let me start by laying out the earlier portions of the day: Christopher (off on a "flex day") and I got a slow start, then headed to Gerten's, the largest garden center in the area. (We're talking acres of shopping for everything from rocks to marigolds to 15-foot maple trees.) We tramped all around the place and came home with a shrub willow, three poppies, a clematis and a star jasmine, as well as some fertilizer, weed killer and potting soil. Since we were expecting rain last evening, I spent the hour after we got home digging around in the yard putting in new things and pulling out old. 

The poppies and clematis were going in to replace some that didn't make it through the winter, while the willow was replacing a mock orange which also took a hit. Everything was proceeding as planned until the first shock of the day: The "dead" mock orange had a little sprout right at the base of the otherwise bone-dry dead stems. And not just one, but two little sprouts. I found the same thing with the clematis and one of last year's poppies. With a little re-thinking, then, each of those living -- if not thriving -- plants went back into the dirt. (Now if only they'll survive tonight's mid-May frost warning...)

While I was working, Christopher announced that once I was done I should come in and rest and get cleaned up because he was going to take me to dinner. We'd had a "Date night" on the books for a week or so. We've taken to scheduling these because otherwise we get a little over-booked and miss out on the chance to see each other, so I didn't think anything of it. I had been expecting that we would order in a pizza or Chinese food and just crash out on the couch -- especially after the yardwork. 

Christopher insisted, though, and so we got a little dressed up (no tennis shoes, even though we were in jeans -- one of my favorite things about this part of the world is the casual levels of getting "dressed up"), and headed out to some mystery destination he wouldn't name. About halfway to St. Paul, I asked (again) where we were going, and this time he pulled an envelope out of the car door pocket and handed it to me. 

Inside was a two-week-early birthday card with an "invitation" to an evening of cabaret and dinner sponsored by Heimie's Haberdashery and Meritage Restaurant in downtown St. Paul. It was a great evening. The cabaret actually took place IN the Haberdashery, amid the tailor-made menswear and accessories, with the stage about halfway into the accompanying barber shop. Okay, so it was a little rough around the edges, but the singers were great, the magician was a riot, and there were hors d'oeuvres beforehand. We even got our palms read while we were waiting. 

After the show was over, we adjourned next door to our restaurant. There was a three-course meal (included in the price of the evening), with a great selection at each course. One of the cabaret singers wandered in and chatted with each of the tables. And outside the sunset was playing light tricks on all of the buildings. It was one of those evenings that you enjoy enough that you don't really know that you want it to end, because even if you go back, it might not be as good the second time. 

We left Meritage around 9:30, and Christopher started driving... well... the wrong way through St. Paul (that was what my tired and slightly-overwhelmed brain was saying, at least). I couldn't figure out where in the world he was going, until he pulled up outside the Crowne Plaza hotel and explained that this was the continuation of the evening: a room on the 17th floor with a gorgeous river view, a king-sized bed and a copy of the incredible movie "Paris, Je T'aime" which we could watch on his laptop. (Yes, he had packed an overnight bag for both of us, as well as his computer and the movie.) We made it through about a third of the movie before we gave up for the night.

This morning we took our time getting ready as we looked out at our amazing view, then tried the buffet breakfast (good, but not amazing) before wandering out into the (surprisingly) cool morning. And it's only Saturday! Who knows what the rest of the weekend might bring?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Bunny Battle

First things, first. I really like bunnies. I think they're cute. I like seeing them run through the yard and bounce around. I like squirrels for the same reason. They're fun to watch running around and being.... well... squirrely.

On the other hand, when the cute and cuddly bunnies started to build a nest in our backyard last week, well, that wasn't quite as much fun. I'd been trying to ignore the fact that they had nipped the tops off of some of the few tulips which we had blooming this year. I had ignored them when they dug in around the peonies and clematis. But the whole idea of them burrowing in between the day lilies and the garage and making a home for themselves was a little too much to handle. 

So, last weekend when I noticed that no matter how many times we chased the same two rabbits out of the yard, they kept coming back to the same place, I was afraid that we were already too late. Luckily, we were still okay. All that was in the hole was a mound of grass clippings (which explains the ripped-up patch in the yard just a few feet away), and some old day lily leaves from last season. 

By the time I was done with my "how to drive bunnies away without poison" maneuver, I had thrown all of the "filling" across the yard, placed a square of chicken wire into its place, and was feeling just a little guilty. Later this week I put more chicken wire around the base of about a third of our backyard fence, in the hopes that this would keep them even farther away. (I'd have done more, but I ran out.)

So far, there have been no more bunny sightings. Which is good. 

But it also means there have been no bunny sightings. Which is kind of sad. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Praise for the Good Old Days

This being Movie Monday, you probably were expecting to read something about the new Star Trek movie or the Wolverine movie or some such. But the biggest movie in the past week for me was the 1950 Technicolor blockbuster "Annie Get Your Gun."

Let me explain...

There's an amazing old theater on the north side of Minneapolis called The Heights which has been around since 1926, and although they still do a number of first-run films (as you'll see if you go to your website), they also celebrate old movies in a way that no new-fangled theater can do it. They're so well-known for their old movies that they sell tickets in advance and -- occasionally -- even sell out. Christopher found out that "Annie Get Your Gun" was going to be showing at The Heights, and suggested it as a date night for us. (Christopher must really like me, considering that he's not a fan of musicals!)

When we arrived at the theater, there was music coming from inside. That's because there was a gentleman named Harvey Gustafson playing the mighty WCCO Wurlitzer Organ. (No. Really. That's what it's called.) When time came for the movie to actually start, the organ sank back into the floor and the lights dimmed until the only lights were the twinkling "candles" in the chandeliers. 

Of course, there was a short film, first. This focused on Tex Williams, and included some amazing moments, like the song "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette" and a book called "How to be the Life of the Party." It was grainy and a little choppy (after all, the film was from 1947!), but it was fun and a great lead-in to our main feature.

If you haven't seen "Annie Get Your Gun" in the original, and have only seen the "politically correct-ed" stage versions of the past few years, you don't know what you're missing. Howard Keel is dashing as Frank Butler, and Betty Hutton is alternately scruffy and stunning as Annie Oakley. And there are some amazing turns by the supporting cast, which includes a huge cast of Cowboys, Indians (very non-politically-correct ones), and crowned heads of Europe. There are also fabulous songs, beautiful production numbers, songs that stay with you for days, and the kind of movie musical magic that you really don't see in modern movies. 

Okay... So some of the cleaning-up that has been done to the stage show are probably for the better. But if you take it all with a grain of salt, the movie is really fun. 

So... Ratings... If you take the kids, will you need to explain a few things? Probably. Should you take them, even so? Definitely. Overall grade: A. And, if it's at The Heights Theater, then A+.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

When Too Much is NOT a Good Thing

I was all set to write a nice little "Happy Mother's Day" posting for tonight, but I thought it might be good to do a little research, first. 

So I went to my Google search bar, and typed in Mother's Day. That brought up a Wikipedia page with the story of the American holiday, created in 1912 by Anne Jarvis, and celebrated every year on the second Sunday in May. It also mentioned that this is not to be confused with "Mothering Sunday," which is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of lent and stems from a celebration which started sometime around the mid-16th century somewhere in the Roman Empire. At this time, people were expected to go "a-mothering" by returning to their "mother church." Along the way, this Sunday in the Roman Catholic church calendar (as well as the Anglican and Western-Rite Orthodox, among others) has also been called Simnel Sunday and Refreshment Sunday (because of cakes being served, apparently) and Rose Sunday (because of the color of robes the priests would wear). Oh... And Simnel Cakes are a light fruit cake covered in Marzipan -- much like a Christmas Cake, but lighter. 

And... Well... Now you know what my problem was... Err... Is.

I remember when I was a kid and I'd go pull the Encyclopedia off the shelf to look things up (my parents were firm believers in the "Why don't you go look that up?" school of question answering), and I would find myself doing the same kind of thing. But, had I been looking up Mother's Day in that same situation, I'd probably have started out in one volume and stopped after the second one or so. I'd have gotten my answer, learned something new, and then stopped. 

But, with the speedy and ubiquitous nature of the internet, these days I simply find myself clicking from one hyperlink to the next. (Honestly, I'm surprised that I got back to writing this entry before searching Simnel cakes on the FoodTV website.) And people wonder why the internet generations seem to have shorter attention spans than most. 

Anyway... What was it that I wanted to say? Oh. Right.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I hope you had a nice day of roses... or Simnel cakes... or something like that. 

**By the way... I didn't find a recipe on But I did find here one on**

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ah... The Suburban Life

I felt like I had a stereotypically "suburban" day today. I did some work from home. Went to the mall to shop. Had lunch. Went to the grocery store. Fertilized the yard. Spent the evening watching TV. 

Is it just me, or doesn't that sound like a perfectly stereotypical suburban weekend day? 

Of course, the interest comes in in the details. (Or, for all our sake, we can hope, right?)

The work I did from home was primarily working with the iWeb application on my iMac, figuring out how to put together a website to attract more freelance writing jobs. Hours of font changes and box tweaks later, I'm putting it aside for a while.

The mall I went to wasn't just any mall, but The Mall of America. I don't really enjoy the place, but I also don't hate it with the fiery passion of a thousand suns (as some of my local friends do). And I find that there are some things you can only get at The Mall, including what I had for lunch: Panda Express Chinese food. (I know it's mall Chinese food. But I like it, and I can't get it anywhere else around here.)

On the way home I actually stopped at both a Walgreen's and a Cub, searching for a couple of things I didn't find either place. But I did watch someone in a BMW block all sorts of traffic in the parking lot. And, while in line, I watched her drop 3 items on the conveyor belt, then walk away to shop for a while -- coming back only after two more people had stacked up behind her. At least her inconsiderate nature was consistent, right?

Once I was home, I finished the spring "weed-n-feed" of our lawn. It's looking better each year. Mostly weed-free at the moment, and lush spring green. (Although I must admit that there are some fun plots around here where the entire yard is covered in brilliant yellow dandelions.) I checked on the rapidly-growing lilac, the clematis which are taking off with an urgency that spring flowers show, and noticed that one of our peonies is already budding. It's amazing how the short growing season forces this rush each spring. 

And tonight, well, it's been very nicely relaxing. Christopher and I watched a little TV together, then split into different rooms to work on our computers. I'm sure we'll both toddle off to bed in the near future, wrapping up our day in the suburbanality of it all. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Throwing the Book at the Doomsayers

Have you heard that the life of the printed book is rapidly coming to an end? What started with monks transcribing copy after copy of manuscripts, moved along with Guttenberg, and then mimeoed, Xeroxed, and photocopied itself into every home, is -- according to some -- on the way out. Well... Not out of my house!

I should explain. It all started earlier today with a series of emails from a networking group I'm in. People (graphic designers and writers and even some illustrators and book designers -- all people who kind of rely on books) were talking about the newest version of some gadget from It's one of those thingys which allows you to download full books for really cheap rates, and then you read the book on the screen. They've got one, now, with a larger screen so it's easier to read while still being portable. But... uh-uh... I'm still not sold.

I admit it. I'm a book person. I spend enough time in front of pixels on a computer screen in the course of a day. When I relax with a good book, I want it to actually BE a book. I don't want to scroll through the pages. I want to turn them, flip them, maybe even -- don't tell the librarians -- dog-ear them. And I like my bookmarks to actually be physical placeholders. In the book I'm currently reading the bookmark is a postcard which I've been meaning to send to a friend of mine. She's going to love the card, and I'm sure she'll love that it was my bookmark, too. I just can't quite see myself loving an electronic tab.

So, in these days of the threatened beginning of the end of the printed word, I'm going to continue to walk into Barnes & Noble, wander around the stacks, and pick out my books. They'll be made of paper and glue. They'll smell good. They'll live next to my bed, or on a shelf, or maybe even go on vacation with me. And, if it comes down to dire need, they'll even help me squash a bug, balance a table, and stir up old memories. 

Show me one of those electronic book-like gadgets that can be dropped off the bed when I fall asleep, tossed in the sand at the beach, or tucked away in the freezer when the story gets too hard to read* and maybe... just maybe... I'll consider admitting that they're good for something.  Until then, I plan to keep my books... well... I guess that's the point: I plan to keep my books.

*Extra credit to the first five people who can identify what TV show that is a reference to. Not that the extra credit is good for anything, but... well... I like getting comments on my posts. :-)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


While helping to set up for the Friends School of Minnesota Annual Plant Sale today, I had plenty of time to contemplate random things. And, since I haven't had other things to think about today, I thought I'd share some of them.

1) Why is toilet water blue? I fully realize there are people who leave theirs clear, but I like to know that mine is being "cleaned and freshened with every flush." I just want to know why it's blue.

2) Why do so many people like to go out on Friday night after a week of work? I gotta say... Friday night usually means that I'm pooped and don't want to leave the house until sometime mid-Saturday. 

2b) And what's with all of the things which seem to be coming up on Sunday nights? Even I have to work on Mondays, these days. Sunday brunch I understand. Going out late on Sunday night just doesn't make sense to me. 

3) Why are some things on DVD and some things not? I mean... I can get the first 3 seasons of The Facts of Life from Netflix, but not the other seasons. And some great shows (like Sisters and anything beyond the first season of Maude) aren't there at all. Who decides those things?

4) Why do gas prices keep going up at the pump, when crude prices are so low and there is a glut on the market? And why can stations on opposite sides of the street have wildly different prices? 

Oh. In case you're wondering, the set-up for the Friends Plant Sale actually went pretty well, all things considered. I helped put up shelves, move trees around, and unload shopping carts from the back of a small semi. Surprisingly enough, the shopping cart maneuvers were kind of fun. I was in the middle, so I basically got to help take them off the stack (there were two levels of them), spin them around, and pass them to the guy at the back of the truck, who then sent them down a ramp to the people waiting below. 

Unfortunately, cart un-wrangling was also the loudest thing I did all night. The noise reminded me of a cross between the end of a roller coaster (when the cars are all getting caught back up in the rails and go "thudda-thuddada-thuddada") and what it must sound like to be behind the pins in a bowling alley where the balls and pins all reset. When I got back out of the truck, the world seemed very quiet. It was nice.

So... Yeah... In case I ever ask, please remind me that I never want to be a bowling pin.

*"Ponderances," in case you're wondering, apparently does not mean "things to ponder" (as I thought it did). Instead it refers to "weight or gravity." Even so, I think I'm going to make it one of my keyword labels. After all, if we all agree to assert that our definition is correct, who's going to argue with us?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Feeling in the Pink

On Sunday, I went to see a matinee of "Legally Blonde, the Musical" at Ordway Center in St. Paul. (And, yes, I went alone -- no point in dragging Christopher to a musical which I know he had no interest in seeing, right?) 

I admit that I went in with a list of preconceived notions. I've seen the Reese Witherspoon movies (the original and the sequel). I saw the Broadway production when MTV broadcast it and then did the search for a new Elle Woods. I know the Cast Album backwards and forwards. I once upon a time even knew the guy who played "Kyle, the sexy (his first words on stage are "I've got a package... for you" as he thrusts himself forward) UPS guy" on Broadway. 

So, Sunday, when I went to the theater, I was fully expecting to see the place awash in pink. And I was expecting to be completely let down by the production. But when the lights came down and the overture swelled up... Well... I started to let the preconceptions go and let the ephemerality of it all wash over me. 

** Sidenote** I fully admit that I'm expecting to get extra points for using the word "ephemerality." I remember learning it in an Intro to Theater class during my freshman year at South Dakota State University. "The quality of being transient - lasting for only a short time." It's one of the things that makes live theater live theater. ** End Sidenote **

For the next 2 1/2 hours, I let all of the pink fluffiness of it wash over me. I got sucked in by Elle and her co-horts. I found myself enjoying the side characters more than I would have expected from the Cast Album. And I found myself laughing at jokes I should have already known. 

I also found myself getting mildly depressed by the amount of gorgeousness displayed by the men on the stage. That was a strange mix of envy, lust, and a reminder that I never could have become a professional musical theater performer because I didn't have the drive for it at the time in my life when the decision would have mattered. But that's a whole different story...

More than one of the pieces which I loved on the MTV broadcast, and which I've enjoyed to some degree on the CD, became a laugh-out-loud moment when I saw it in person. Watching Elle's mentor try to "dance funky" made him even more endearing. Seeing the entire cast "Riverdance" was a trip which... well... doesn't translate to the CD. 

And there is a scene late in the show which was totally stolen by two relatively minor characters. The two minor -- yet pivotal -- gay characters are given more time than you might expect since they are such a small portion of the show. The whole scene, as well as what leads up to it, is filled with stereotypes, but the upshot turns into a really sweet "gay pride" moment (even the light bars bordering the stage become rainbow-colored). And, well, it did end up making me proud and happy for them. (And, again, more than a little amazed at a few of the dance moves...)

That, in a weird way, is what yesterday's performance did for me. It gave me all of what I was expecting, but also went to places which made me so very happy and proud to be there in person. 

If you have a chance to see the tour of "Legally Blonde, the Musical" I'd recommend it. It may be as pink and fluffy as cotton candy, but when was the last time you were depressed eating cotton candy?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Mini-Postings

Just a few quick things to put out into the inter-webs tonight...

1) I planted some Marigolds last week. They had been growing in the basement, and although it's really been too cool out to plant them, I put them outside so they wouldn't die without seeing true daylight. They're actually doing okay. Hurrah.

2) Our orchid is shooting off another spike. It's still got the last 6 blooms on it, and now a new spike is growing. It's amazing. 

3) Christopher made a wonderful meal tonight. Pork chops and saffron rice, served with a Grand Noir Viognier wine. We ate it while playing Scrabble. Perfect and simple. Or, maybe, Simply perfect.

I think I might, actually, be ready for the new week to begin. How wild is that?

** Update... 2 hours later... Christopher just made home-made chocolate malts for dessert. How much better can this weekend get? 

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Very Happy May Day

I vaguely remember being in grade school and making May Baskets to leave at people's doors. I don't much remember what we did, or what we put in them, but I remember the point was to leave them on someone's porch and not be caught. Kind of like a secret-admirer Valentine of sorts. 

Well, while standing in the kitchen today I saw a whole gaggle of grade schoolers on a walk around the block. There were the requisite teachers at the front and back of the pack, and each kid was carrying something that looked like an upside-down party hat. Nothing clicked as to the day, and I just attributed it to the fact that teachers get stir crazy, too, this close to the end of the year. We're only a little over a block from two different schools and we see a lot of kids around, after all. 

Later on, though, when Christopher came home and went to check the mail, he found one of those cones hanging on our front door. He brought it in, saying "Look what we got!" and we carefully inspected our surprise. The May Basket cone itself was made of heavy wrapping paper, with a "straw" ribbon for a handle. 

Sticking out the top was a flower composed of a few loops of recycled newspaper held together by a long green pipe cleaner and a button center. A tip of the cone revealed 3 hard candies (which must have been hard for grade schoolers to give up!). And, peeking out from inside were two flyers which gave us the answer to where the May Basket had come from: A Kenny Community School brochure and a small flyer listing all of this spring's upcoming events. 

It was a small thing, and I'm sure that the May Baskets cost almost nothing to make, but it certainly caught our attention and made us smile. The Basket is currently hanging on our buffet, and I've marked my calendar for a few of the upcoming events. After all, if the kids were able to go door-to-door and invite us, it would be rude not to attend, wouldn't it?