Friday, August 22, 2008

Romeo and Juliet tour BEGINS!!!

"We started out like Romeo and Juliet, but it ended up in tragedy!"
-Milhouse Van Houten

Good morning everyone, this'll be a short one as I have to get in the shower, load the car, get the girl... Today is the first day of the R&J tour, kicking off in Beverly MA at 1pm. I broke down last night and bought a camera to document the even with. A nice shiny new Sony Cybershot semi-fancypants camera with features I don't even know how to use yet. Gotta figure them out on the fly, I guess.

I also spent 75 bucks on a digital camera for Geoff. It is a simple camera, nothing fancy, but hopefully he learned lessons from when he lost mine and now will be a more responsible steward of properties.

Anyway -- expect little bursts of updatey goodness from me over the next several days. Today we have Beverly Common and the Salem Athenaeum. Tomorrow morning it is Mary Jane Lee park in Salem followed by the big Marblehead show at Ft. Sewall.

Sunday at 1pm is Lynn Woods. If you are at all inclined to come to a show, dear reader from the area --this is the one. The Lynn Woods rose garden is easily found off of Rte 1 if you're coming up from Boston. Take the Walnut Street Exit off of Rte 1, follow Walnut Street past the pond and on your left after the pond ends, the 2nd left is Pennybrook Road. If you're coming from the north, it's a little harder to get to because I do not think there is a Walnut street exit off of Rte 1 as you're heading south. You have to take rte 129 and drive around the Lynn Woods into Wyoma Square to get over to a road that takes you to Walnut street... You can punch "Pennybrook Road, Lynn MA" into to get your route if you like.

The garden is gorgeous and amazing... one of the rebel dads went to the site to check it out and called me from there, insisting that it was by far the coolest spot, and he hoped that dozens of people come to soak this show up.

Sunday at 5 they are in Derby Square at old Town Hall in Salem MA. This will be an interesting show.

Monday is a day off for the kids.

Tuesday at 1 we're at the Senior Center in Salem. A huge room that I hope is filled with Seniors. Tuesday night at 6pm we're at the Palmer Cove baseball field in Salem, under the lights, on the diamond. It'll be amazing.

Wednesday we're in Newburyport at Moseley Woods. You far northern types should take a half day and come down... and then at 5pm on Wednesday we're at Winnekenni Castle in Haverhill. A Castle. And Shakespeare. How awesome.

salem news - lifestyle cover storySo yeah. All the info is on the webpage if you want directions, a cast list (so you know when Jess is the nurse and you can come see her in all her awesomeness!)

And you can see the feature article written on the company in yesterday's Salem News.

I'm outta here. Gotta shower fast and get going. I've pissed away an hour so far figuring out how to turn the sound off on my camera so it doesn't make all kinds of stupid noise when I turn it off and on! Times A Wastin'... so ....

more later. Wish us luck. Wish us a nice big fat audience. Wish us well. Thanks for your support (and for putting up with my lack of blogging and still coming back to visit.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pie Fight at the Burrow

There are phrases I honestly never imagined I would utter in my lifetime. Phrases such as "I'm off to slay a thousand babies and put their heads on pikes 'round town!" Or, "I really think that I prefer the Nazis over the Jews. They had snappier uniforms." I'd never say that. And finally, I never ever thought I would say, "This weekend, I'm going to a pie fight."


But that phrase came out of my mouth this weekend for the first time ever, and probably not for the last.

There is another family we know through Rebel, and this is the third year they've done this. They gather friends and family at their house, and fill 7" paper plates with whipped cream and then proceed to "pie" each other.


Well, why the hell not? Really. When it comes down to it, why not?

When the dad told me this is one of their late in the summer fun activities, I cursed myself for not thinking it up myself, and then insisted we be invited to the next one. A few weeks ago, a facebook invitation flew my way and my heart soared! Yes! Here we go!

When I told Doug, he looked at me dubiously. Doug thinks, honestly (and he may be right) that I'm losing my mind. But I told him that there was a giant wok for stir frying foods and we could bring beer, and his sense of panic seemed to subside. I thought he'd beg off, but he came with... as long as he didn't have to have pie thrown at him.

Well, that's no fun. But if you insist on not having pie thrown at you... then so be it.

The thunderstorm followed us to their front door, and we figured that it would be better to just do the pie fight in the pouring rain than to wait until it gave up. The Dad of the house laid the ground rules, and then Geoff read a spoof of Henry V's "St. Crispin's Day" speech which the dad reworked just for him. Geoff told me that he wanted to do the speech, and the dad thought it would be better if it were funnied up.

This is how it turned out:

"This day is called the feast of Crispian Cream:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home with hair and sanity intact,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian Cream.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil pie his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian Cream Day:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's Cream day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Keri the queen, Geiger and Magnant,
Scott and Staples, Kingsley and Yoffe,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispian Cream shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the summer,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For she or he to-day that throws his pie with me
Shall be my sister and brother; be he ne'er so vile and pasted with cream,
This day shall gentle his complexion and fertilize the roots of her hair:
And gentlemen and ladies in New England now a couch potato,
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their lives cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin Cream's day!"

Geoff read the speech, having memorized the real one he did a great job with the emotions of this one. When he called out the names, the dad of the house and I put our fists in the air and looked at the crowd of 30 people and were like "Yes! That's US!" and they started to cheer and laugh.

We all cheered like mad and ran to the back yard to start the fray.

piefight 2 after the pie fight

Here is what we looked like before and after. Photos all by Doug, who didn't want to have pie thrown at him, so he played photographer. The flickr set is here if you want to go see the vicious pie-throwing action.

christine pie headNow, I'm not sure what is happening inside my brain that thinks this kind of thing is a good idea.

Am I having some sort of mid-life crisis? Some sort of existential crisis?


You will see, if you go through the photos, that the dad of the house and I are the only two adults (well, not so... his sister participated and she's only a couple years younger than he is...) with no sense.

I think that there is something happening in my brain that is looking for something more fun and creative and insane and amazing on a daily basis. Or at least on a once in a while basis. The typical day-in/day-out crud that I feel myself mired in has resulted in me longing for something more creative, expressive and entertaining. It doesn't have to be meaningful, or earth-shattering. Just ... fun.

Throwing pies at teenagers, my own and some that I don't even know, brought me a great deal of joy for about 20 minutes yesterday. Hearing my son read his rousing speech? Amazing. Watching my daughter chase people with whipped cream on a plate and receive a spattering to the face before she could hit her mark? Also amazing. Sitting around watching the garage band of the house play while eating stir fry out of a giant industrial wok and hanging out with new friends... well. That was icing on the cake of the day.

All told, it was a really fun event. And I'm already looking forward to next year.

We haven't been to church nearly all summer. Next weekend we won't get there because Jess needs to be in Lynn at 11:30 for her Rebel performance. Doug and Geoff could go, but I'll need to leave here to take her there.

And the weekend after is Labor Day weekend already, so the summer rushed past us with amazing speed.

This morning, church was nice. Since we haven't been for quite a while I expected a lot of "oh! Where have you been?!" comments but we only got one. I think most people understand that summer is a busy time. Church was half empty, so I think we aren't the only people who haven't been.

After the service, Geoff approached our pastor and reminded him that when we first started attending that Rob (the pastor) promised two things. First, that Geoff could ring the church bell. Second, that he'd show us the bell tower. Since it was winter when we started, we couldn't quite go up due to the ice and snow. Today, though, was a picture perfect day, an amazing day, it was THE day to go up if we were going to go.

We trudged up the narrow stairs to a 3'x3' opening that I was afraid I wouldn't fit through (due to my girth, ya know) and as I stood on the bottom step and looked up at Geoff going through the hole, I honestly started to panic. There are no walls up there, no windows. Just sky. And I didn't see the 3 foot high railing that went around the platform... I just saw Geoff leaping out the hole and into what I could only assume was ... sky.

Jess got up after me and assured me that there was a railing, and I heard her encourage Geoff to use caution. I got up next and was relieved to see that he couldn't just accidentally spill out to the streets of Newburyport below... and then I saw the view.



I mean, honestly. Woah. Holy... wow.

There is a Paul Revere bell from 1802 up there, and not much else. A six-sided platform that offers 360 degree views of all of Newburyport, Salisbury, Amesbury, Newbury, all the way to Rockport and Halibut Point, Seabrook NH, and ... amazingness.

Because I don't have a camera, and Jess isn't always thinking and didn't have hers with her, we don't have a visual record of the day. You just have to take my word for it.

The pastor of the church, Rob, takes people up there all the time. Tour groups from all over the country come all week long and the church has office hours where you can just show up and go up. You can also go to the basement where the crypt of the church founder is.

But to be honest, THIS is the thing to go see. I can't wait to go up again. Perhaps in the fall, when the leaves are all ablaze and amazing.

In September, they are doing historical tours of the North Shore, and if you're thinking of something interesting to do... just let me know and I'll tell you where to head and who to ask for. And you can tell'em I sent you.

Anyway. I guess that's about it. In less than one week, the Romeo and Juliet North Shore Extravaganza Awesomeness Tour 2008 begins. I secured a date for Beverly, so we'll be on the Beverly Common at 1pm on Friday, August 22nd. The dates are on the website. Be sure to try and come to a show. It'll make you happy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

They Call it Stormy Monday, and Tuesday and Wednesday, and ...

I'm damp. For the last five days it's rained. Some days, a little bit... with a lot of cloudy hours before and after the actual rain. Last night and today it has been rather Ark like. Raining so hard that the sound of the rain on the road outside my window was loud enough to make me think there was a car accident happening this morning.

There has been no wind with this soaking rain. So all my windows have remained open -- allowing the cool mid-August night air in.. along with all its dampness. I woke up this morning when the aforementioned deluge woke me, and just felt cold and clammy. My sheets were damp. My pillows damp. Cold and almost comfortable, but noticeably damp.

I'm wondering when we all beginning to grow mold spores on our bodies.

Right now it isn't raining, but I bet it'll start up again. You just watch.

I don't mind the weather like this for a while in the middle of summer. The grass is amazingly vivid green instead of dead, burned brown. The plants and flowers are thriving. I don't have to pay the electric department for AC and fan usage; and I don't have to worry about just selectively watering the plants only and letting the lawn die. This is our third summer here (if you can believe that) and the yard has never looked more amazing. I love it.

But I want it to sunny up and warm up a bit here, not too much. It can stay cool if it wants to... I don't mind that. But the rain has to stop by August 22nd so the kids can do the Romeo & Juliet tour.

I'm still looking for a location in Beverly for the show. I'm finding it nearly impossible to get the Parks department to return my calls. I'm not sure if my persistence annoys them and they're not calling me back for spite or what ... but really. I have 10 days until that show, and I have nowhere to stage it.

Everywhere else has been a breeze. I've been treated with respect, the people I've been working with have been kind and amazing. Everyone has been so supportive and encouraging and interested in what we're doing. Just this one town is posing a problem and it's hard because a mess of the kids live there and want to stage the play in their town. I could do a sixth show in Salem, or go to Danvers or something... But I want the kids to represent in their home towns... I emailed one of the moms from that town and asked her to pull the "I live here, book it" card. I hate having to do that. This is supposed to be MY responsibility. I shouldn't have to call someone to pull townie rank.

While that has been frustrating, everything else is going great. Jess is off book and totally into her parts. The kids are amazing. The photographs that we've taken are amazing. I look forward to picking her up each day and hearing all they've got planned. I cannot wait for the shows.

MIRROR henry graceSo. Mark your calendars, dear friends. And I will post this again to remind each of you area-resident types.

Each show will be different and amazing, unique in its own way. From a playground to a castle; a ball field to a bustling inner-city historical square, no two shows will be the same.

Friday, August 22 @ 1pm - TBD
Friday, August 22 @ 5pm: The Athanaeum, Salem MA
Saturday, August 23 @ 1pm: Mary Jane Lee Park Playground, Salem MA
Saturday, August 23 @ 5pm: Fort Sewall, Marblehead MA
Sunday, August 24 @ 1pm: The Rose Garden, Lynn Woods Reservation, Lynn, MA
Sunday, August 24 @ 5pm: Derby Square, Old Town Hall, Salem MA
Tuesday, August 26 @ 1pm: The Senior Center, Salem MA
Tuesday, August 26 @ 6pm: Palmer Cove Ballfield, Salem MA
Wednesday, August 27 @ 1pm: Moseley Woods, Newburyport, MA
Wednesday, August 27 @ 5pm: Winnekenni Castle, Haverhill MA

Thursday - collapse and break. And then my journal entries won't involve Shakespeare for quite a while. :-)

There hasn't been much to write about I suppose. There are some incredibly random things that don't really MAKE an entry on their own, so I'll just list them out here.

Olympic Opening Ceremonies
I wasn't going to watch them. I am really not a big Olympics fan in general... for as much as I like sports. I think it is a spectacular waste of time and money, especially when you know that the Chinese government built these amazing structures and pushed people out of homes to make room for this, what, ten day event? Ruining lives left and right so they look good. Nice.


I happened past the 2008 drummers drumming and was astonished and I stopped to watch.

Nothing in recent memory has made me say "wow" as many times as these vignettes. I was absolutely moved by the beauty and scale of the whole thing, the combination of really high-tech visual amazement and sheer number of humans out on the pitch making all of the things run. Some of it was hokey (Oh look, here come the children. Horray for Children! Aren't they cute!? Oh yes, they are our future! Horray! Feh).

Overall, it was fantastic and then I got horribly bored with the parade of nations and oooh this designer made this country's clothing for tonight's parade and oooooh don't they look darling in their little hats. Whatever. I liked the more traditional garb that a lot of the African countries were wearing, and the sweet humility of some of the smaller countries who showed up in khakis and polo shirts or T-shirts with their country flag on the front... looking like tourists, strangers in a strange land.

And I might just say that no other Olympics after this need bother having an opening ceremony. Nothing will top this. Ever. Nothing. So don't even bother planning, London. Just have everyone show up and do the parade of nations and shoot off some fireworks and go out for a pint.

China did something right, and better than anyone else ever will.

Brains are Mysterious
Has this ever happened to you? I get up once a night to go to the bathroom (sometimes I'm able to sleep all the way through the night but I wake up at 6 and really really need to pee!). I don't turn the light on, because I'm a girl and don't need to SEE to pee. And if I do turn the light on, my eyes don't adjust to the dark well enough to walk back to my bedroom without tripping on a dog.

So I'm sitting on the lou, in the dark, and I look out the window. And I see a SNAKE on the garage roof! A SNAKE! I swear to God! And I look at it for a long time and say "Why is there a snake on the roof of the garage and how the hell did it get there?" I slowly start to realize that it isn't a snake. It's a serpentine branch. Sitting in the moonlight, being a stick on the garage roof. My mind registers that and I say "Oh, okay," finish up my business and go back to bed.

The next night, it happens again. I look out, see the snake, wonder why it is there and how it got there, ponder, and realize. Accept and then go back to bed.

Over and over this happens.

Do you have any weird brain not absorbing things adventures you'd like to share.

At least I don't SCREAM when I see the snake on the roof. That would be bad. A nightly scream of terror when I see the stupid thing.

I watch a lot of DVR'ed TV shows. Doug recently started DVRing two shows that I highly recommend. Normally, I don't tell people what to watch because someone will take me up on a suggestion and say 'ugh, that was AWFUL' and then I feel like I've let them down.

But if you get a chance, AMC has a TV show called "Mad Men." It takes place in a hoity toity advertising agency in Manhattan in the early 60s. It is really amazingly beautifully shot. When I first saw it on the screen as I walked through the living room, I thought Doug was watching a movie, it was that good. TV normally doesn't have that kind of a super detailed amazing eye to the period. But this does. The dialogue is snappy, rude, smart, amazing. And everyone smokes, just like they did in the early 60s. And you can see smoking etiquette taking place. A man lighting two cigarettes to give one to the dame on his arm, huge fancy lighters as table pieces. Astounding.

The other show is "Aliens in America" on the CW. I don't know how long they can ride this show, because it is about a Pakistani exchange student living with a family deep in Green Bay Packers' territory in Wisconsin. The characters are great, the dialog is really believable and funny, and I love it, even when it is cringe-inducing. Watch it.

Alright. I guess that's it. I have to get some work done this morning. Geoff started football last night and came home a sopping, disgusting mess. So all of his stuff is in the wash. I'm going into the office later this afternoon and hope to not have to eat any vacation time this week thanks to him not having anyone to be with him. Sigh.

More later.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Camp Grandma

I didn't intend for a whole week to pass but that is sometimes the thing that happens. I worked a lot this week, helped out with some stuff for professor CM, and that was amazing and fun and so rejuvenating to me. I had forgotten how smart and creative I am. I haven't worked with CM for a long time so it was such a blessing to have the opportunity to help him out with his workshops. I enjoyed it to the core of my soul.

I spent time with Jess goofing around. Having just her and me in the house made for a very different dynamic. We kidnapped one of her "Romeo & Juliet" directors and took him up to the castle in Haverhill where we will be doing the play later this month so he could see it and start thinking wicked thoughts about staging and blocking and the like. He's up to no good in a good theatre sort of way, and it will make it an amazing event. Mwah ha ha ha.

We went out to dinner and he invited another person from the program from when he was a student. I was a little wary of meeting someone new but something just clicked with me and this guy. And I adored him instantly. Amazing. Fun. What a fun time.

I intended to do amazingly productive things with my week free of Doug and Geoff but the only thing I did was clean out the recycling and get the bottles ready to go to return redemption. And I 99% finished a web form that was making me have kittens (thank you Peter Wood for your help) and have gotten it to the point where it is running but I have some tweeeeeeking to do to make it perfect. That'll hopefully happen this week.

In the last entry, I'd mentioned that Geoff had nowhere to go and nothing to do for the next three weeks until school starts. Because he refused to do Rebel again (he says it conflicts with Football, whereas I say it does not) he puts me in a position where I cannot just leave him home alone all day. So I have to find somewhere for him to go.

My mother, God bless her, agreed to have him come stay again. I call it Camp Grandma. He calls it "Suffocating to death in Old People Land." He is a little ingrate and I could smack him... but he doesn't like being the ONLY kid in the neighborhood and he gets bored easily. My mom pointed out that the water park nearby is open, and she'll take him there, if he's good. I told him that and he shut right up. So hopefully that'll make it better. We also started giving him an allowance for doing things here in the house. He was sad because he would not receive his allowance because he wouldn't be HERE to do his jobs. I told him that he needed to work it out with Grandma -- that I'm sure she can find things for him to do to earn a dollar a day, and we'll pay him for it when he gets home.

Knowing how to spin shit to this kid is key. I always feel like I have to sneak in the back way in explaining stuff to him to get him to do it. And sometimes it works, other times it turns into a ten day negotiation battle with lawyers and industrial labor relations representatives and closed door meetings and shady deals... resulting in a stalemate.

So long and the short of it is, one week at Camp Grandma and then after that I have no idea again. I'm stressing out. He has to stay close to home because football practice starts a week from tomorrow, so it isn't like I can send him back to Camp Grandma or to Pennsylvania or anywhere ... so I'm at a loss. meh.

The other big news is that Doug and Geoff had a great time at camp and fun was had by all. Which was an answer to prayer, because I somewhat envisioned him pulling up into the driveway, pushing Geoff out the door, and going to the pub to get shitty drunk after a week with The Boy.

Doug came home all fired up because he enjoyed himself so much. Geoff behaved wonderfully, and he didn't get into any arguments or do anything epically wrong or stupid. He did two things that were kind of WTF moments. But they weren't show stoppers or anything that would go down in history as the "Oh My GOD you guys do you remember when Geoff..." kinds of things that I imagined he'd get into.

Well -- we're on our way out. I have to finish up getting him ready and go brush my teeth so I don't have dragon breath. More later.