Snow days

We didn’t have any measurable snow around here this winter until about the 24th of January. It just happened to be during a weekend we were away. We had gone to our destination on Friday night so we wouldn’t have to drive there in the snow on Saturday morning. Returned home Sunday night. There hadn’t been much accumulation, but we never managed to clear away what landed there.

Since then there’s been no opportunity for a thaw and melt before the next wave of snow. And it’s kept coming every few days. Which means that first, uncleared snowfall became a permanent layer of ice.

We had more last night. More than was forecast, so naturally it was more than we expected.

But the reason I’m bringing up the snow at all is this: Here it is March 2nd (and happy 54th birthday to me), and coming home from my celebratory meal we passed homes which not only still have their Christmas holiday lights up, but still choose to light them.

As you probably know, I’m a little nuts about holiday lights. I love them. Any attempt to brighten up the long nights surrounding the winter solstice warms my heart.

Around here, post holiday season, it was not that cold  – at least for a couple of weeks. My outdoor lights were lit until about Twelfth Night and then were unplugged. Because it wasn’t ridiculously cold and there was no snow or ice on the ground (literally none), I even took them down, brought them in, put them away and put the holidays behind me. So there was plenty of nice weather opportunities for others to do the same.

And yet they opted not to.

Within a short walk of the end of my driveway there are several homes still lighting up the winter nights with their holiday finery. In my heart of hearts I enjoy the lights. But I do wish they’d put away the light-up snowman or the brightly colored decorative balls. The lights are one thing. The holiday specific ornaments and decorations are another.

Which reminds me of our former across-the-street neighbor who basically left his holiday wreath on his front door year round. It’s a south-facing door: the sun was not kind to that wreath.

I like winter, I enjoy the snow, I love the holidays and decorating for the holidays, and I dislike undecorating for the holidays. I also dislike putting it off too long. But eventually everything gets old. For example: I have enjoyed our numerous snowfalls, but today with the excess of wet snow to clean off the cars, followed by slipping and falling on the ice in the driveway for the second time in two days the luster off the new-fallen snow was tarnished and it made me cranky and a little bit fed up.

If I had to choose, spring is probably my least favorite season, but it’s a means to an end; primarily late summer into fall. I’m finally anticipating the end of winter and the end of the ice and snow pack, and the coming of warm days.

But not hot days. If you think I’m cranky now, wait for a 80+ degree day and check back in with me.

If you dare.

PS. In case you are wondering what kind of card a 13 year old Boy feels is appropriate for his mother, see photo below.

This is the card the Boy gave to me for my birthday. I found it very funny which was good, because he thinks it's hysterical.

This is the card the Boy gave to me for my birthday. I found it very funny which was good, because he thinks it’s hysterical.

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Hollywood East

Technology is a pretty amazing thing. Back in my day, if you wanted to make a movie the best you could hope for was getting your hands on someone’s Super 8 camera and making a silent film. In living color.

Yes, I’m that old.

The Boy has a project for school based on Homer’s “Odyssey” in which, by way of movie or comic strip, he has to retell a portion of the story.

He chose the portion of the story where the travelers encounter Polyphemus the Cyclops on his island. The Boy’s vehicle for telling the story? A stop-motion movie in which his Transformers toys (action figures?) on a quest for more Energon stumble across the one-eye Shockwave who just happens to have a stockpile of Energon. They “shoot his eye out” (c’mon, name that movie), steal his stash, and then leave him and his island with his curse upon them.

It’s actually a great update of the story.

He’s making the movie with a stop-motion movie making program on his iPad.

It’s fucking awesome.

I’ve been helping him shoot so he can adjust the Transformers for the stop motion format without having to go back and forth. There’s even a couple of transforming vignets. All that’s left is to do now is the voice over.

Doing this has taken far longer than his original estimate of “a couple of hours.” A comic strip would have taken a fraction of the time. But one of the instructions was that if you do a comic strip you can’t use stick figures.

Really? What-the-fuck English teacher?

So what happens if a kid in your class doesn’t have access to technology and can’t draw? What then? The Boy was so freaked out, convinced that he could not draw well enough, that he went the other extreme and chose to use software he’s never used before in order to fulfill the requirements of the assignment. It required a learning curve of new tools and technology: this, to him, was less daunting than the simple pencil technology he’s already mastered.

I love that creativity is encouraged, but at what cost?

I know how he feels too. I might have done the same thing for the same reasons. Because as much as I’d love to possess that singular talent, I can’t draw. A blank piece of paper is one of the most fearsome things in the world to me.

Yes, I realize that this is a first world problem. So is the school assignment.

Anyway, I had fun helping the Boy with this assignment – once we got it off the floor of his bedroom and onto the kitchen table. So what if we haven’t been able to eat there for a few days. I learned about rudimentary stop motion home movie making, and how well a flashlight works when you need lighting.

And maybe I also learned a little about fearless creativity from the Boy. Because even though he didn’t want to draw this project, he’s never met a piece of paper, or a blank screen, which he couldn’t conquer.

The set. There's no place for the actors to sit. And I don't think Craft Services was very good.

The set. There’s no place for the actors to sit. And I don’t think Craft Services was very good.

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Herding Cats

W.C. Fields said it best: “Never work with children or animals.”

The last few months of my life have been consumed with doing something I never aspired or expected to do. Directing children’s theatre.

Specifically, a two-act musical re-telling of Alice in Wonderland. My actors: fifth and sixth graders. Tweens with attitude and limited listening skills. I think, for most of them, it was all about the costume. Which I totally get. Because, early on, when I decided I wanted to be an actor, it was all about the costume. But what happens when you get a large group of tired, hungry, wired pre-teens in a room?

You don’t want to know. But that’s where the “herding cats” analogy fits in.

Today was the final curtain. A cast party after school at the local ice cream parlor. A smallish space with no soft surfaces. So, imagine 25+ pre-teens and a handful of adults with the noise bouncing off the walls and inside the confines of my brain.

We all worked very hard and deserved this celebration.

I watched the show from the back of audience mentally taking notes I’d never have to deliver because we had only the one performance. Which is too bad for the actors. When you put that much time and energy into a production, it seems only right that you should have more than one opportunity to perform it in front of an audience.

Thinking about that very thing I realized we’d lost an opportunity to perform for a very appreciative audience. Retirees. They’re everywhere around here. Assisted living, rehab and nursing home facilities. There are many. And they all have an entertainment budget.

Next year. Because, yeah, I will more than likely do it again. There’s that little bubble of insanity we all have. Some people jump out of planes, some swim with sharks, and some direct children’s theatre. I compare it to childbirth; how after a baby is born the labor pains are soon forgotten in a fog of sleepless nights and parenthood, and you think, “sure, why not? I’ll do this again.” Insanity or not, I can’t say I didn’t know what I was signing up for. So maybe it was just poor judgment.

The thing is, you give children a chance to express themselves in a creative way and unexpectedly wonderful things happen. Which, if the process doesn’t drive you to excessive drinking, you can see, appreciate, and maybe take a little credit for facilitating.

And, full disclosure, I learned stuff too.

I know, right?

Teaching moments for everyone.

I wonder if we have any tequila.

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Touristy/non-touristy day in NYC

For the first year since he was five, the Boy opted out of riding the train to the North Pole with Santa, Mrs. Claus, the sleepy elves and Elizabeth. So no cookies, hot cocoa or spiked eggnog for us! Sad as we were at the passing of this annual tradition, we decided it was time to make a new tradition.

Tiffany's holiday decorations. Love me a little bling!

Tiffany’s holiday decorations – adding sparkle to the Avenue

Living in New York for seven years while pursuing an acting career, there are things of the season in the city that one can almost take for granted. But then you move away and they become part of your personal mythology, but are no longer part of your annual holiday season.

Trumpeting angels and a very large tree

Trumpeting angels and a very large tree

Well, fuck that! This year we reclaimed the season. In spite of the unseasonably warm temperature, and the omnipresent rain and fog (even Rudolph would have had a tough time in the fog that blanketed the city this morning), we set forth to view a large tree, window displays, ginormous candy canes, and an over-large snowflake perched precariously over the avenue.

Big-ass candy canes

Big-ass candy canes

The only snow you’ll see for Christmas this year is hanging over Fifth Avenue.

The fog made it hard to see, but there it is - snow in New York

The fog made it hard to see, but there it is – snow in New York

Then, because we really can’t stand crowds, we headed south to Katz’s to get the only good bowl of matzoh ball soup left in Manhattan now that Cafe Edison has closed. Actors, musicians, stage hands, and all of the other theatre folk in New York, are mourning the loss of the best place to eat lunch in mid-town.

Curse the greedy bastards who would not renew the Café Edison’s lease.

Bastard is too nice a word for them. But it’s Christmas so for now, I’ll fuggedabout them.

I thoroughly enjoyed my soup. Afterward, I thoroughly enjoyed coffee and dessert at Ferrara in what’s left of Little Italy.

Already sampled each item on the sampler plate. That was a much-needed cup of cappuccino.

Already sampled each item on the sampler plate. That was a much-needed cup of cappuccino.

My feet, however, were done. There was a long (looooong) train ride home, and here I am, my feet happily recovering from all of the walking.

Lights. I love me some lights at Christmastime.

Lights. I love me some lights at Christmastime.

Now it’s just a matter of counting down. Christmas is nearly upon and will be gone before my feet truly stop aching.

May the joys of the holiday (and soft comfy slippers) be yours.


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Looking for that holiday feeling

It’s been absent so far this year. Can’t find it in anything. I do have an awful lot going on. But the season is just not speaking to me.


This spoke to me. But they weren’t offering this service to humans.

There’s an undecorated Christmas tree in my living room. It’s been there for a week, drinking water, giving off that lovely live tree scent with not a light or a bauble upon it. I remember to water it, but I’ve stopped noticing it. As you know, for me, heading into the winter solstice it’s all about the lights. And not those little tasteful twinkly bullshit white lights either.

Train on mantel. What a novel idea.

Train on mantel. What a novel idea.

I did decorate the mantel. I gave in to the Boy this year and instead of the usual fake greenery and lights, there is an HO train with tiny little bottle brush trees in its gondola car and on its flat car. I attempted to hang lights on the stone above the mantel.

Even Gorilla tape has a hard time sticking to stone.

I have been sewing like a mad woman. Making a quilt for an elderly friend who lives halfway across the country. Sewing up other gifts. Sewing up my fingers. I have the bloody holes in my finger tips to prove it. It’s amazing I can even type.

It’s not Christmas without a little melodrama.

In addition to the sewing I have been making some other gifts. Today I made cookies.

Not for gifts. Just to eat.

First cookies of the season.

First cookies of the season.

The plan is to decorate the tree tonight. You need cookies to eat while you decorate your tree. I’m pretty sure it’s a law.

And there’s eggnog which will be fortified with the spirit of Christmas Forgotten. I call this Christmas spirit the Spirit of Christmas Rum from the northern ice cap known as Mt. Gay.

I also made bread today, but that’s for the Boy’s lunch this week. I make my own bread now. We are trying to eliminate as much non-organic, GMO and chemically laden food from our diets as possible. Have you ever read the ingredients label on a loaf of bread? Holy What-the-fuck-is-this-crap-I’m-eating, Batman!

Didn't believe me, didja? I'm still working on getting the rolls a little more uniform.

Didn’t believe me, didja? I’m still working on getting the rolls a little more uniform.

The sun is setting. The outdoor Christmas lights are on. Time to finally start decorating the tree. Almost. Still waiting for the Boy to finish his homework – late on a Sunday afternoon.

I’ve washed dishes at least three times today and my shoulders are aching from hunching over the counter/ironing board/sink/computer.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?

P1060754 P1060755

In case anyone is interested, for Christmas I would like a personal masseuse.

I can pay in fresh baked cookies and bread.

And rum.

Merry Christmas. *hic*

Merry Christmas. *hic*

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