Thursday, April 30, 2009

As I mentioned before, a bunch of movie stars have been in town over the last month to make an independent film. A local paper asked Colin Firth what he thought of the Bull City:
Firth, after looking up images of Durham on Google Maps, was not particularly excited about Durham as a destination but was happily surprised upon his arrival. "You go a mile in every direction and it's green paradise," he said. He's taken his family to the Nasher Museum, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens and Eno River State Park. "I feel strongly about how gorgeous it is here."
Isn't that nice? In my personal experience, it's very rare for an Englishman to say that he feels strongly about anything. They usually maintain an air of polite aloofness even when pleasantly surprised. If an Englishman tells you that something was "rather nice" that is HIGH praise, people. So thanks for the enthusiastic response, Mr. Firth!

What he says is true. It's been gorgeous here lately. Like Mr. Firth, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather a few days back & head out to Duke Gardens. I didn't have a lot of time, but I just had to find a few minutes to snap some photos at the height of Spring.

The oddest thing happened as I left the parking lot, Walking ahead of me was a woman playing a flute - yes, playing the flute as she walked - followed by a couple ladies carrying what appeared to be a wedding dress and a lime green bridesmaid dress festooned with rainbow fairy wings.

It was as if the Pied Piper was leading us into the garden. What a shame the ladies weren't wearing those fairy wings at the time. It would have been deliciously surreal.

I love this little cottage. They serve drinks and ice cream there during the summer months - a necessity during that steamy time of year.

And here's the real show-stopper in April: the wisteria arbor.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't call it a comeback

So ... the audition. First of all, thanks to EVERYONE who wished me good luck. I've gotten so many phone calls and e-mails and text messages. It's been about 3 & 1/2 years since I've been on a stage, so it really meant a lot to me to have so much support.

A lot of you have heard the details already. For those of you who haven't, I'm going to cut & paste what I posted at my favorite on-line forum. Please forgive my laziness. I've gotten a bit tired of repeating myself!
There are good things and bad things to report. First of all, they had us audition in groups. My groups was made up of 6 people - 4 females and 2 males. Before we entered the audition room, we were told that we would be watched by 13 directors. Yes, THIRTEEN!!!! ALL at once!!! Can you imagine going on 13 job interviews simultaneously? Because that's what this was. I was expecting only 4. Astounding! Most of them were theater directors, but there were a few film directors, too. We were told that part of the point of them holding a group audition like this is because they're trying to compile a big database of area actors. So that's nice. It means that even directors who were not there might get a chance to see my headshot and resume, so that's a good thing.
The 6 of us were escorted into the audition room. We were called one at a time to step forward & perform our monologue. And that was it. That's all the time we were given. But a problem immediately became apparent to me. In case you don't remember, we were asked to prepare a one minute contemporary monologue. Just one wee little minute. In all the pre-audition FAQ stuff I read, they seemed to make a point of emphasizing that we should follow directions and find a monologue that fit this exact description. Unfortunately, it seems that I was the only person from my group who read that information. Everyone else performed monologues that were AT LEAST 2 minutes long. One woman went on for over 4 minutes. And no one interrupted them to say their time was up! They just let them go on and on and on. Which meant that they had more time to show off their talents, more time to show their range, more time to tell a full, colorful story and more time to make an impression on the directors. I worked so hard to find a piece that met their requirements! It wasn't my favorite monologue in the world & I knew I could better show my strengths if I could perform something longer, BUT I didn't perform anything longer because I'm not a diva!
I honestly don't know how well I performed. I kinda went into "the zone" and just let it all flow over me (which is really for the best). But I fear that, since other people spent 400% more time on stage than I did, then they're all going to stand out in the directors' memories better than I did.

There is good news, though.
Ours was the last group before the directors broke for lunch. I was the last female they saw perform in the group (the 2 guys went after me). Therefore, the directors were given a nice mental break to digest the performance(s) I(we) gave. They had more time to think about what they saw and (hopefully) to remember me and maybe even discuss me amongst themselves. Plus, they probably appreciated that I kept things short because at least I wasn't the one cutting into their lunch time. Also, after we left the audition room, I got to meet 2 of the directors briefly and they shook my hand and they definitely seemed interested. The look in their eyes was not just mild politeness, but genuine interest in me.

So. I'm trying to hold onto those happy thoughts.
There is no official call-back for this audition. It's up to the individual directors. If they want to cast us or hold their own call-backs, they will contact us in their own sweet time. I haven't heard from anyone yet, but that's okay. They probably saw about 200 people over the course of 2 days, so I'm sure they'll need some time to process all of that information. Let the waiting game begin!

Monday, April 27, 2009


Did I mention here that Friday was my birthday? I don't think I did. No matter. I was so focused on preparing for my big audition that I barely noticed it myself. I fiddled about with my headshot (Option 1) and had it printed at Walgreens. And I tried out a few outfits to determine what I would wear to the audition. And I studied my monologue and performed it numerous times for my cat. I also spent far too much time typing and editing my resume so that it would fit onto one page. Note: Word 2007 can bite me. No, actually it can't because biting me is too simple & obvious a task for such a convoluted, unnecessarily complex piece of software. Grr.

Amidst all of this fevered preparation, I had to make time to do one indulgent thing on my birthday. I had to go to the mall. Normally I don't spend my free time wandering about the mall. If I'm there, it's usually because I have a particular goal in mind. Friday's goal: go to the new Anthropologie store.

I know it doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside this store is a cornucopia of girly-girl happiness. When I heard that we were getting our own Anthropologie store just a few miles away from my house AND that it was opening on my birthday ... well, if that isn't a sign, I don't know what is. So I went & I bought a couple things - not because I need them, but simply because they made me happy. I got a mug ...

... and some porcelain, painted measuring spoons. They're decorated on the back, too.

Yes, I made an indulgent purchase, people. It really does happen.

Sometimes Tim makes indulgent purchases, too. In this case, he purchased some aquamarine earrings way back in December at my family's favorite jewelry store & kept them hidden until my birthday.

Isn't he a sweetie? And isn't he grateful that I don't go snooping through his things while he's at work? Yes and yes. By the by, taking a photo of one's own ear is much more difficult than I imagined. Give it a try sometime.

We finished off the night with Indian food, coconut cake, and some episodes of Veronica Mars. Nothing too special, but that's okay. I'm definitely going to take many opportunities to celebrate more over the next week. After all, it's not everyday that a gal discovers that she's lived longer than Jesus. Granted, he came back from the dead, blah blah blah. But unlike Christ, I survived my 33rd year on this planet without being tortured by my enemies & left to die. What more can a gal ask for?

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Help! I need to pick a headshot! My audition for 4 (yes, 4!) theater companies is Saturday morning - just 48 hours from now - so I need to make a decision pretty quickly. What do you all think?

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

I'm leaning towards option 1. These theater groups tend to do more contemporary pieces, so #1 suits what they're looking for best. The second one seems like it would work better for more mainstream theater - Neil Simon and musicals and such. As for the 3rd, the more I look at it, the more it looks like a portrait. Headshots should have a slightly different feel than portraits I think.

By the by, getting these shots was not as effortless as it may appear. There are now about 150 photos on my memory card of me trying to look subtly pleasant but not sullen. Or happy but not forced . Or sweet but not insipid. I'm lucky I found 3 that don't repulse me. My best strategy: pretend I'm watching the cat snooze in the sun which, conveniently enough, she was doing just a few feet away at the time.

Now if only I had Photoshop ...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our garden - Spring '09

Recently some of my on-line pals at the forum where I hang out requested that I post some more photos from our garden. What better day than Earth Day, right?

Here's one of the wild violets that grow on the west side of the house. They are the #1 reason why I won't use harsh chemicals on our lawn.

We have 8 azalea bushes in the back garden. This is my favorite one this year. The color is amazing!

Millie loves soaking up the sun, too.

And that's not all! I took some pics at the gorgeous Duke gardens last week, so I'll share those next time. Hope you can get out & enjoy the beauty around you this Earth Day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Third, second, first

Project Bloom continues, so last week I got out & did a few new or newish things.

Lately 'round these parts, when people hear "Main Street" they think of the movie that's being filmed here. But for me, I also think of Alivia's - the restaurant on Main Street where The Monti holds most of their shows.

This was my third time to attend a storytelling show by The Monti. This time we took Jennifer and Kyle along with us. Jennifer is a big fan of The Moth's podcasts, so she was excited to hear that there's a local group doing the same sort of thing. My favorite story of the night (and the winner of the Story Slam) was about a Jewish vegetarian boy's first glorious experience with bacon. Jennifer's favorite story included a pair of rabbits named Crocket and Tubbs. Really great stuff. The food was nice, too. Mmm ... cheeeesecaaaaake.

Thursday was lining up to be a perfectly normal, ho-hum day, but at the last minute I decided to do something a little different. I ended up going to a synagogue for the very first time.

How is this possible? Why did it take me almost 34 years to enter a synagogue? Granted, I ate at a Chinese restaurant for the first time when I was 19, so maybe this isn't so surprising after all. I must admit that it was not a crisis of faith or any other religious motivation that drew me to the synagogue. Rather, it was dancing - specifically, English country dancing.

If you'll recall, george and I tried out English country dancing for the first time at Veronica's wedding reception. Well, maybe not at the actual reception, but during it. Anyway! I know it's kinda dorky and old-fashioned, but I had a really good time & I seemed to catch on to it fairly quickly, so I was interested in trying it a second time. I heard that there was an English country dance group locally that meets every week on Thursdays at the synagogue. I wanted to go, but I kept forgetting about it! I cannot tell you how many times I've woken up on Friday morning and thought, "D'oh, I missed the dancing again!" so when I finally remembered it on a Thursday afternoon, I had to jump at the chance.

The group was so nice, so warm, so welcoming. About a dozen people showed up. They had all been attending for a while & had a fairly good grasp on the terminology, but they were also very good about explaining things to me. I didn't get a chance to snap any photos of people dancing because I participated in every. single. dance. For two hours. If you know anything about English Country dancing, you'll know that it's really more of a challenge for the mind than for the body. It's very fun, but it's also very complicated! If you want to see what I'm talking about, just watch this this video of a dance called "Faithless Nancy Dawson".

Some of the dances were really elaborately detailed & I never got them quite right, but I faked my way well enough. The dance of the month - Old Friends - was especially mind bending. The only way I survived it was by watching the other dancers & trying my best to spot the people who were doing what I was supposed to be doing. I guess I managed okay because our teacher for the evening, Allan, said I was a natural. I'll definitely have to go again - especially on the nights when they have live musicians!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ten random notes ...

1. Mom and Dad made it home safely from the Holy Land. Apparently it was a great trip, but I haven't heard many of the details yet because both of my parents caught a terrible bug that made it very difficult for them to speak. It's been nearly 2 weeks since they returned and Mom's voice is still rough. Funnily enough, they started feeling sick shortly after visiting the pyramids in Egypt, so Uncle Buster has concluded that they've been hit by The Mummy's Curse. And we thought that was a myth!

2. I discovered that my aunt makes the BEST yeast rolls in the history of time. So soft and pillow-y and amazing. And the dough raises to heights that are not to be believed. Check it out.

Crazytown! I watched her closely & found a recipe on-line that looks extremely similar to hers, so I think I'll give it a try this week.

3. We ate a LOT while visiting the fam. Tim was introduced to Cincinnati Chili (he likes it "4-way"). We tried to take him to Ann's Ice Ball shop, but it's closed for the season. Boo! We took him to the ol' Dari-Bar instead.

Remember how I'd reached my goal weight? Ummmm ... that was kinda short-lived! I'm sure I'll get back down again.

4. Hollywood descended upon the Bull City this week. A movie called "Main Street" is filming around town & causing a bit of a stir. It's pretty amusing, actually. The movie stars Colin Firth and Orlando Bloom (among others). Definite heart-throb material. If you want to know where they're filming, just look for a small crowd of women with hopeful looks on their faces & cameras in their hands. You'll find them outside of buildings or lingering on street corners around town. And if you miss them, just watch the evening news. Every night this week - EVERY night - the TV news has gone out & interviewed these women. My favorite interview was of a 50-something lady who hoped "that little hottie" Orlando Bloom would come out & give her a hug. The reporters response: "Well, uh, I hope you get what you want." Snort!

5. I've been pretty busy doing all sorts of stuff. I'll post more info in the next day or two. My problem is I took more than 100 photos & I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the volume. I'll definitely have to spread it out over a few days.

6. One week until auditions. Eep. I found a monologue that fits the time limit (from "Stop Kiss"). It isn't the most spellbinding monologue on the planet, but it'll do. Guess I better work on memorizing it now, right? Ugh.

7. Watching the first season of the following shows: Veronica Mars, The IT Crowd, Mad Men. All of these were new to Tim, but Veronica Mars was the only one I hadn't seen before. Tim bought Mad Men as a surprise for me. I think I won him over when he learned that the hot redhead from Firefly was on it. Hooray for delicious eye candy!

8. My 2 closest local gal pals are really busy with school right now. It really sucks because I feel like enjoying some girly time. Within the next few weeks, Jennifer will defend her masters dissertation and Shawna will graduate with her Bachelors in Architecture. Shawna says she won't be able to come out from under her pile of books until May 9th. Poor thing! Luckily, Jennifer has a little more wiggle room & we've made some plans, but not much. Le sigh!

9. I've been thinking again about how desperately I need to paint the kitchen. Still having trouble settling on a color, though. I want something light and warm that will look good with the oak cabinets. However, I don't want the kitchen to look like a bland cliche. I've been stewing over this for nearly 2 years & I think I'm now frozen with indecision. Maybe Mom can help me with this when she arrives in a few weeks.

10. Speaking of which, I can't believe my family will be here in less than a month! Mom has already told me that she's looking forward to relaxing with a cup of coffee & taking in the view of our backyard. Well, Mom, here's a little something to tide you over.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Quick Pictoral History (Kentucky continued)

Once upon a time in a tiny little town along the Ohio river, there were just 2 little churches. One day, the young minister at this church ...

went out on a blind date with the daughter of the minister at the other church ...

which eventually resulted in the birth of the person pictured on the left.

The end!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Old Kentucky Home

A few days ago, george called me & I answered the phone by saying, "I'm in Kentucky!" Tim was given a few days off of work before Easter & he said he wanted to spend those days meeting the rest of my family. My Uncle Buster & Aunt Fay were more than happy to put us up in their guest room, so off we went. Luckily, a lot of other family members chose that weekend to visit, so we had a pseudo family reunion going on. We spent the days driving around, enjoying the countryside, & occasionally stopping by someone's house to see varous family members. It was probably a bit overwhelming for Tim (19 people made it to Easter lunch!), but he managed very well. Surprisingly, I ended up meeting some new family members, too - most notably, 2 month old Ava Nichole.

I wish I weren't so self-conscious about taking photos of human beings. I really really need to get over this. If you visit my aunt & uncle's house, you'll see that their walls are COVERED with photos of family members, so I'm sure they'd be all-too-happy to pose for me, but I get shy. Bah. Fortunately, everyone expects you to take pictures of babies, so I got a number of pics of Ava.

Ava is my cousin Doug's granddaughter. Does that make her my third cousin? Second cousin once removed? Great-grand cousin? I don't know. I just know she's cute & looks just like her daddy, Mike.

Here's a photo of Ava with her mom, ReAnna, a fairly new member of the family, too, and a really great addition to the group.

I wish I'd had more time to talk to ReAnna. She seems like such a kick-ass woman. Smart, quick, funny. It takes a very special person to match up to my second cousin, Mike, and she definitely fits the bill.

Here's Ava in the arms of my second cousin Samantha as my Aunt Fay looks on.

We haven't seen Sammy since our wedding when she was still a baby (she's 4 now), so it was great to see how much she has grown. She is SUCH a girly-girl! And like many girls in our family, Sammy took a real shine to Tim. When she was sorting through her Easter candy in the kitchen, she took a chocolate egg & walked off to the living room & gave it to Tim. This is big because she LOVES chocolate and because she didn't give any of her Easter candy to anybody else - not even her beloved grandma.

Speaking of whom, can you believe my Aunt Fay is a great grandmother? How did that happen? Actually, don't answer that.

Lastly, here's a group shot of the whole group minus Tim and my cousin, David, who were busy wrangling cameras.

Front row from left: Uncle Buster (aka George), Aunt Fay (aka Orveda), my second cousin Samantha (covering her face), Janine (Aunt Fay's sister-in-law)
Standing from left: Cousin Donna, Cousin Doug, Ava, my second cousin Mike (Doug's son), Mike's wife ReAnna, Cousin David's wife Cassie, Dale (Aunt Fay's nephew), Laura (Dale's wife), Elaine (Doug's girlfriend), my second cousin Mandi (Doug's daughter), me, Adam (Mandi's fiance), and older Dale (Janine's husband).

Thursday, April 02, 2009

No foolin'

April 1st was a really good day around here. Here's a quick run-down - from the inane & the significant.

1. I finished our taxes! It took me over 3 hours, but they're finally done. And we're getting money back, which makes things all that much better.

2. The Project Runway legal battle is over! The season that recently finished filming will air on Lifetime this summer. Finally!

3. I got some fabulous boots. Actually, I've bought a lot of cute things lately. Maybe I'll feature them in another post.

4. Anybody have a great one-minute contemporary monologue? 'Cause I need one. Four area theater companies are holding joint auditions in a few weeks. The good news is that it's efficient: multiple opportunities, very little effort. However, if I screw up, then I screw up in front of FOUR artistic directors! Simultaneously! As a delightful bonus, I have never ever ever had to do an audition with a monologue. I've only done cold readings. So, yes, I'm scared, but I'm going anyway. My appointment is at 11:40am on Saturday, April 25th.

5. I don't talk about it much, but I've been on a health kick over the past 7 months. According to my scale, I hit my goal weight today. I am, frankly, in shock. I weigh less now than I did back when I went shopping for wedding dresses 5 years ago. Which reminds me ...

6. Today marks 4 years since Tim and I exchanged our wedding vows in front of friends and family. Aaaaaaaaw!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Finding my sea legs

Over the weekend I watched some of the figure skating world championships on TV and I found myself loooonging for the ice again. It's strange to think that I used to spend multiple hours a week training at the ol' Williams Center in Tulsa. I quit competitive figure skating about 15 years ago. Since then, I go skating about once every couple of years, which is a shame. I really do enjoy the feeling of the ice under my blades, the smell of the cold, dry air. I feel different out there - stronger, more free.

The rink closest to our house has a special adults-only session on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. There's a coach on hand to offer help & give lessons. They even provide coffee & muffins. I've known about this for years, but I was just too nervous/lazy/whatever to go before. This week I was ready. I uncovered my skates from the box on the top shelf of our closet & away I went.

Do you still call them "sea legs" if the water beneath your feet is frozen? Obviously, my body is a lot different than it was back when I skated regularly. My legs are simply too weak to do the things I used to do. But some of it is still there.

All of the other adults were so welcoming, so encouraging. The coach - Mary Jo - was marvelously helpful, too, and helped clear away some old cobwebs in my brain. She reminded me of some little tips, encouraged me to do some things that frightened me a little & was so impressed by my progress that she even asked me to demonstrate a few moves to other skaters. I managed to do a few spins & even a number of waltz jumps, but some simple things like back 3-turns are still escaping me. Gimmee time.

No, that isn't me. It's Coach Mary Jo doing a bit of ice dancing with one of the men in our group. Watchinging them take those familiar steps made me smile. Maybe after a few more sessions I'll fell confident enough to try my hand at it, too.

After skating for 2 & 1/2 hours, the last few members of our group wandered off the ice & we all swapped our skates for street shoes. The coach and I chatted for a while, speaking in an old language I hadn't spoken in a dog's age (words like "scribe" and "patch" mean completely different things to skaters). Before I left, the group told me again how nice it was to have me there & encouraged me to come back anytime. I think I'll have to take them up on that.