Travel Day

Oh boy. What a day we have ahead of us!

I still have to finish packing this morning and take care of what seems like a hundred things around here. There are at least 10 different lists sitting on the kitchen island.

travel day morning glory 1

That’s a bee diving down head-first into the morning glory.

I hope that the walk to the park from the hotel isn’t too far for Scout. That’s what I worried about last night. She limps because of the arthritis in her front leg. She’s a trooper, of course, but it would be so much easier if the apartment was available. So much easier. A quick walk across the street and we’re in the park. It’s more than a few blocks from the hotel.

travel day morning glory 3

This morning glory vine looks like a question mark.

Question of the day: Will Scout adapt to her new surroundings? Will she be able to handle the long walks? Or will I have to take her to Don’s place in New Haven?

This will be a short post, my friends. Too much to do before we head out around noon.

travel day morning glory 2

We won’t even mention how I’ve looked over the weather forecast for the next ten days and the lack of rain makes me concerned for my garden. Or how impossibly beautiful it looks right now as I prepare to leave and how sad that makes me.

It ain’t easy, this living and working away from home.

In fact, it gets harder, not easier.

Sorry for what seems like an excessive amount of in-post ads today. I’m looking into it.

Happy Thursday.


Dreams, Lists, and Noise

I don’t often remember my dreams, but I did remember a scrap of one yesterday. What it was about, I’m not sure. I don’t remember any details except for the fact that I was a younger version of my current self and my mom was there. The dream wasn’t about my mom, specifically. But she was there hanging out and talking with me, much as we interacted in my teens and early twenties.

That’s all I remember. But it was lovely. I woke up with a strong sense of my mother and a sadness and happiness for days gone by…I miss her.

I probably dream of her more than I know. Many years after my brother died – he’s been gone for 23 years now – I had a vivid dream in which he and I were dancing together. The dance, as I remember, was a waltz. It was joyous and happy. I woke up with a smile on my face. That dream was so powerful that I knew he’d been with me, as sure as I knew my name. I take comfort in that dream even now.

Ah, well.

from the rear rose

Thank goodness for a second round of blooms on my rose bushes. Every year, long after I’ve given up on them, they sneak back in for an encore presentation. Very welcome, indeed.

I ran a few errands yesterday, made more lists, and in a spurt of energy, mowed the entire front lawn. It’s big, my friends. I should have stopped much earlier than I did, but I kept at it, knowing my back would be shouting in protest at the end of the day. It did.

On the other hand, that’s one of the things on my list for today that I don’t have to do. I like that.

And in the same vein of planned obsolescence as the breakdown of the washing machine, the television is now acting up. We’ve been babying it for quite a while now – the sound has a background of crackles and pops. We would turn on the television, then immediately turn down the volume for about 10 minutes, then slowly increase the volume and all would be okay. No longer. Crackles, snaps, and pops are there no matter what I do. And a new wrinkle: the sound cuts out here and there.

I remember asking the cable guy about it and he asked me how long we’d had the TV. I said about 8 years. Yep, he said, that’s about as long as you can expect it to last. Then things start happening.

Planned obsolescence.

It isn’t so bad if I’m watching something with a lot of music and sound effects, but anything quiet, i.e., The Roosevelts, is not at all fun. I end up turning it off.

After we get back: dealing with the washing machine and a new television.

Shiny new pencils for my work in Hartford:

for the trip pencils

I bought a box of Blackwings. The 602. Our local used bookstore is so cool. I told the owner I loved these pencils and he nodded. They are the best, he said.


More on the To Do list today.

Oh, Scoutie, I hope you’re up for an adventure.

On Just Let Me Finish This Page today: On the Road: What if I Run Out of Books to Read?

Happy Wednesday.


Potpourri on Tuesday (I’m All Over the Place)

As Thursday draws nearer, I find I have lists and more lists all over the cottage. Errands to run. Things to pack. Phone calls to make.

And I’m more than a bit spacey. The other day I posted a photo on a blog post that I realized – several days after the fact – I had already used in a post last week. After rereading yesterday’s post, I worried that it was sort of the same thing I’ve said before. And it is. Ah, well. Sorry.

Forgive me if I’m a bit stressed. Packing for five weeks is always hard, but now I’m also taking Scout. And, unfortunately, for the first two weeks, we have to be in a hotel. After that, we will move to an apartment. It’s sort of a pain in the tush. I like this hotel. I’ve stayed there before. Everyone who works there is really nice. But how will Ms. Scout adjust? I don’t know. It’s a bit further from the park and Scoutie has a limp these days, so I worry about her.

Oh lord, I’m all about worrying. I’ve been that way since I was a wee girl.

If Scout doesn’t adjust to the hotel, she’ll move to her dad’s for a week or so. Hopefully, she’ll weather the change and be okay.

beatles sign on piano

Remember the sign I got Don for his birthday? We temporarily propped it up on the piano until we could decide on a good place to hang it. Eventually, we realized that we like it where it is. So, for the time being, it’s staying right there. I added a photo I took of Don when we were in Boston – he’s doing his best to recreate the famous Abbey Road picture.

beatles sign on piano 2

Stepping back. I am still so in love with that lithograph of the Aquitania.

Yesterday was gorgeous. Today is rainy. I took advantage of yesterday’s beautiful weather and took at least a hundred photos of the gardens and the flowers and bugs and things like that. I’m stocking up on photos for future blog posts. Rehearsals are pretty intense for the first week and I might not have time to walk around Hartford and take pictures. And when I do walk around Hartford, I will often have Scout with me, so there’s that.

Don, my love, more of your zinnias:

for don

for don 2

We miss you.

We’ve talked about the ad income I receive (believe me, it’s minuscule) from this blog before, right? That’s the only income I receive. I say this only because a sweet and lovely reader assumed I was getting paid for my book reviews and I wondered if other readers thought the same thing? I never thought about it before, but I can see where someone might think that is the case.

I do not get paid for my book reviews. I receive the book in exchange for my honest review. If I got paid, I wouldn’t be able to be completely honest in my reviews. Now, if I worked for a newspaper or journal or something like that, I would expect to be paid because I would be working for an entity that is neutral as to the books being reviewed. But, since I get the books from the publisher and/or author, accepting any pay would be tantamount to writing a post in which I would feel pressure to give it a thumbs up. That’s why I include that statement in every review that thanks either TLC Book Tours or the publisher or NetGalley for a copy of the book “in exchange for my honest review.”

Just wanted to clarify that.

I’m off to read my lists and make a plan for the day.

Happy Tuesday.


A ‘No Gourd’ Zone

water drops 2

Last night, the temperatures dropped – it may have been the coldest night in the last few months. Leaves are scattered around the property. Autumn is definitely on its way…but no, it is not here yet. I have no desire to rush headlong into a new season before it actually starts. Yesterday was quite warm during the daylight hours. When Autumn officially arrives in a week or so, I will greet it with a smile. But not until then.

I am not a seasonal decorator. I’m not counting Christmas, of course, but even then, my decorations have been winnowed down in the last few years to a group of very special items that we love. Let’s face it: there is a lot to look at in my cottage. China and pottery is everywhere, favorite prints and paintings are on the walls, there’s always lots of color, books are everywhere. I’ve written about this before in a post called Confession: I Don’t Decorate for the Seasons. And it still holds true.

Why? Well, it could be because we live in a part of the country that has four distinct seasons, each of them glorious. I can look out my window or sit on my porch and see nature’s seasonal decorations. And who could ever top that?

But even when I lived in San Diego, vastly different than the Northeast, I didn’t decorate for the seasons. I might have used some indian corn at some point during my eight years there and we carved a pumpkin or two around Halloween. Those were the days when we had trick or treaters, so we did it for them.

water drops 1

This cottage seems to adapt to the seasons quite well on its own. In the spring and summer, our many windows provide lots of light and give us peeks at trees and flowers and butterflies and birds. In the fall, the light changes and the cottage seems cozier, though I haven’t done anything specific to honor the seasonal change. Lamps are turned on a bit earlier. The throws that are always (in any season) in a basket in the den are used more frequently. But I don’t decorate with them. I see the glorious colors of the changing leaves right outside my windows. In the winter, as the light changes yet again and is reflected off the snow, the cottage becomes even cozier- a haven from winter’s cold and falling snow.

But I don’t do any of that. The cottage itself morphs and adapts and nature’s splendors are right outside our doors – always on view.

I also must confess that I haven aversion to tchotchkes scattered around the house with the words Autumn or Fall or Spring! or whatever on them. Likewise ‘Snow!’ I avoid the seasonal displays and decorations at stores like Michael’s like the plague. Definitely not my thing. I’ve never been able to figure out why I need some words or decorations to tell me what season it is.

Oh, I know. I’m most likely the odd one out here. I understand. I know I often march to a different drummer.

orangey zinnia

Ah…. see? Mother Nature designed this zinnia and its autumnal colors are perfect for this time of year. I take no credit. I’ll soon be seeing these colors in the leaves as they turn. I’d rather look at this ‘decoration’ than anything I could display in my house.

(By the way, Don, this is for you. More zinnia pictures are coming your way.)

Also, the thought of having to seasonally decorate my home makes me want to take a nap. I’m betting, however, that a lot of you love to do just that. And more power to you!

Just don’t stop by expecting to see gourds and pumpkins and indian corn and the word, ‘Autumn,’ everywhere.

You’ll be disappointed.

(New post on Just Let Me Finish This Page: “On Not Wanting a Book to End.” Please stop by.

Happy Monday.


Rays of Light

It rained all day yesterday; a quiet, steady rain that we very much needed. The rivers are low here. Our cottage is just a short walk away from two rivers and I’ve been shocked lately at how low the water level is.

The gardens are loving it. I’m hoping that it rains every few days while I’m gone so my gardens can thrive in between visits home.

This is what it looked like outside this morning:

rays of light

Sunlight peeking through the trees.

This photo rather reminds me of one I took last year in the summer of 2013. While I was out of town working in Hartford, (sound familiar?) I used it to illustrate a Leonard Cohen lyric. That photo had such pretty bokeh! You can see that particular post here.

But I digress. I say all that only because I seem to be captivated by rays of light coming through the trees. Today’s photo was taken while it was still a bit foggy out, with drops of rain still hanging from all the plants. It’s all rather magical and you have to run outside and try to capture it before the light changes. That kind of light always seems to transport me to another world; a world of beauty and spirit and possibilities.

But, brrrr! It was nippy outside this morning. Autumn is definitely in the air. Along with my non-flannel pajamas, I’m wearing my shawl and a pair of socks. However, I refuse to turn the heat on this early. I simply can’t.

candy stripes & mg

Back to yesterday. Scout and I tucked ourselves in for the day. I finished Act Four of Hamlet and I sent off our tax deductions. I was quite pleased with myself. Then I read and read and read some more: Deborah Crombie’s newest, To Dwell in Darkness.  How lovely it is to read a new book by a favorite author, but what a double edged sword it is. I become happily immersed in the writing and the plot, while at the same time, I try to stretch the experience out as long as possible. However, it can’t be too long, because I have other books to read and review.

A quality problem, that’s for sure.

sunlit zinnia

Today: Act Five and then I’ll be done with my Hamlet prep. I’m also doing a load or two of laundry over at my neighbor’s while they are away for the afternoon. Bless them. I will take advantage of the opportunity to play with their adorable cats.

It’s time to start making lists of all the things I have to take with me as I prepare to leave for Hartford. And lists of all the things I have to do before I leave. Then the inevitable worry: what the heck will I blog about? This is my sixth go-round in Hartford, which is a nice city, yes, but not very lively. I feel like I’ve completely plumbed the depths of that experience.

Ah well.

Happy Sunday.


Rinsing, Wringing and Bailing

Do you remember my words in yesterday’s post? I was going to ‘lay low’ for the day.

The gods heard that and laughed out loud.

I was working on Hamlet and stopped to throw some sheets in the washer. After some time, I went to the bathroom (where our stacked one-piece washer and dryer lives in a closet) to throw them in the dryer. But the load wasn’t done. The cycle had stopped midway through the wash. Thinking it might just be a problem with the permanent press cycle, I moved the dial to Normal. Nothing. I tried Rinse. Nothing. I tried Spin. I tried Gentle. I tried everything. For a moment or two, Normal worked. Then it stopped.

The only thing the washer would do was fill with water, which I certainly didn’t need as it was already full of water. Soapy water.

The damn thing was broken.

So this is how I spent my morning and much of the afternoon: pulling out wet sheets (which, of course, spilled water onto the floor) and then holding them under the bathtub faucet as I rinsed them out by hand. Then I wrung them out and dried them. One by one. There were wet sheets in the bathtub. There were wet sheets in the bathroom sink. There were wet sheets in the washer.

And then, joy of joys, I methodically bailed out the washer – scoop by scoop.

Guess how long that took?

There is still some water in the bottom of the washer that I just can’t get out of there, so I’m trusting it will eventually evaporate.

The bathroom was a mess. I ended up washing the floor. The rugs dried outside on the Funky Patio chairs.

In this time of planned obsolescence, I wonder if nine years is the most we can expect from a washer? (The dryer still works.)

Since I’m leaving town in about five days, I am going to hold off on calling in someone to look at it. We’ll deal with that when we get back. Why do I have this sinking feeling the whole darn thing is going to have to be replaced?

And that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Getting that washer and dryer in there involved taking off the door to the bathroom, taking off the door to the closet, and removing the molding.


Let’s change the subject and look at a neat picture of Scout.

scoutie & orb

I was shooting into the sun and this orb appeared on the image. Reminds me of Glinda, the Good Witch, in The Wizard of Oz.

And to further take my mind off the washer, how about some pretty morning glories?

morning gs & rusty wire

morning gs & leaves

Sigh. That helps.

Act Three? Check. Today I work on Act Four.

By the way, I’ve been hit with a ton of spam in the last 24 hours that looks like a legitimate comment, but isn’t. It will take a bit of time for my spam plug-in to identify and filter this stuff, so I am temporarily moderating comments. I check in all the time, however, so your comment will be approved rather quickly.

Don’t people have anything better to do than this? Really? They can’t do something more constructive with their time?

Happy Saturday.


Back Home, Gifts and Scout

Left the house at 9:30 am. Pulled up in the driveway at 7:15 pm, with Scout’s face visible in the window as she kept one eye pealed for the car from her “Where’s Mom?” perch on the loveseat. Thank goodness for my neighbor who cheerfully dropped by a couple of times to let her outside. I’d left food out in her dish, which my neighbor informed me had been ‘nosed’ by Miss Scout to a spot under the kitchen island.

That scamp.

I asked my neighbor to please put the food back in its original position on the rug. When I got home to an ecstatic, jumpy, pouncey Scout, I discovered she’d eaten it all. Good girl!

We had a loving reunion with lots of “I missed you!” and “What a good girl you were!” and then it was time for more food. For Scout, first.

Then I ordered a pizza. Just for me. It was 8 pm and I was starving.

Scout was like a hyped-up little kid for the next 3 hours until she finally crashed.

I’ve been in Efficient Mode for a few days now, but I think today I’m going to be in Lay Low Mode. Especially since I woke up at 5:30.

Nevertheless, I have to finish Act Three of Hamlet. I’m on a schedule. Here’s the current view of the kitchen table:

FRIDAY Current state of kitchen table

Filled with research books and scripts and notes for our taxes and books due back at the library and some mail.

Attractive, isn’t it? And not at all pin-worthy.

I want to share a few surprises that have arrived in my mailbox lately – all from generous and lovely readers of this blog.

FRIDAY crochet

Tammy sent me this lovely crocheted mat. I love, love the colors, which are not quite true in this photo. That’s because it’s early in the morning here and the lights are on. The bookmark was also in the package – those are pressed flowers. Thank you so much, Tammy!

Yesterday I stopped off at the post office to mail something and check the contents of my post office box. Whoo hoo! There were three packages waiting for me. One was a book for a future review.

FRIDAY eggcups

One was a box that contained these. Oh my! Generous reader Sandra sent these vintage egg cups that are also salt and pepper shakers. Sandra said that one of the things she loved about my egg cup collection is that each one of them has a story. Then she went on to say that this set wouldn’t have a wonderful story like the others, but that they were ‘sent fondly.’ Hold on there, Sandra! They do have a wonderful story: they were sent to me by you. You discovered them at an estate sale and you took the time to package them up, along with a lovely note, and send them to me.

I’d say that’s a pretty neat story. Thank you, Sandra!

And the other box contained these:

FRIDAY minis

Oh my! Lovely reader Lee sent me these minis. They were given to the attendees of a NAME convention (National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts.) That’s a beautiful tray with letters, a letter opener, pen and ink, books, and a cup of tea on a doily. And a tin of Earl Grey. Beautifully done. Yes, my friends, it will definitely be going in the dollhouse, which has been untouched for a while now. That happens every summer, as my thoughts turn to gardening and the great outdoors. Soon enough, I will be finding myself back in the thick of it.

Thank you, Lee!

I am continually amazed by the thoughtful and generous gifts that are sent to me by you, my readers and friends. I don’t think I am nearly that thoughtful or generous, to be perfectly honest. I wish I was more like you. You set the bar pretty high, my friends.

Bless your hearts!

A new post with some interesting links is up at Just Let Me Finish This Page.

Adding to The List: Forgot about Hilary Swank in P.S. I Love You (movie) and Robert Sean Leonard in Pygmalion. Oops!

Oh, and if you’re occasionally not getting a post in your email, it most likely has to do with your email provider and there’s really not a thing I can do about it. I subscribe to this blog through AOL, Gmail, and Yahoo and I’ve been getting every post. Remember: you can bookmark the site and visit it directly. You know that I post every day.

And one more thing: I’m getting a lot of spam today – somehow it’s getting past my filter, so for the time being I am moderating comments.

Happy Friday.



And…I’m Off!

Today, I drive to Hartford for an afternoon rehearsal and then back home again. Four hours, round-trip, in what increasingly looks like rain and thunderstorms. I’m leaving Dame Scout at home and my neighbor is going to look in on her. Since we have to travel together again a week from today, keeping her at home in her familiar surroundings seems like the best option.

I finished Act Two yesterday. Then I mowed the dog corral and the whole front yard.

After that, I collapsed.

THURS autumnal zinnia

This zinnia just opened. I planted it in one of our barrels by the Funky Patio. The colors are quite autumnal!

I did some editing on yesterday’s post as the day went on and I remembered more details. Beah Richards played Sidney Poitier’s mother in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and she and Don worked together in an episode of The Practice, not L.A. Law.

I also worked with Robert Hays, Don’s longtime friend, in a production of Mister Roberts at the Old Globe.

And I believe that Don worked with Elinor Donahue in an episode of Get A Life, starring Chris Elliott. It’s a very funny episode with Don playing a cop who always wants donuts. In that same episode was Chris’ father, Bob Elliott, of the comedy team, Bob and Ray.

THURS M Glory & Candy Stripes

Of course, not on the list are countless wonderful actors and actresses and directors that the general public wouldn’t necessarily recognize, but who are every bit as talented as the ones on I mentioned yesterday. They work in theaters throughout the country, on Broadway and off-Broadway. That list, my friends, is just as important to us as the one on the blog.

THURS newishzinnia

I received my pre-publication copy of Deborah Crombie’s newest book, To Dwell in Darkness, yesterday. Though I was already reading another book, I started it last night. One is on the Kindle, one is in hardcover. Since I was charging my Kindle, I used that as an excuse to start the Crombie.

Makes sense to me.

I’ll be reviewing it on this blog at the end of the month.

Okay. Have to jump in the shower and get ready for a long day.

Happy Thursday.


The List

prep work 1

Act One? check. The back forty and part of the front lawn mowed? Check. And now on to Act Two.

By the way, I need to get my eyes examined. I think I’ve reached the stage where readers no longer do it. Between computer screens and reading and the prep work for the play, my eyes are having a bit of trouble making the necessary adjustments. I took a break in the middle of the Hamlet work yesterday just to rest my eyes. That break morphed into mowing the lawn.

It’s time for Interesting and/or Well-Known Actors/ Directors Don has Worked With. We sat down with a pad of paper and did our best to remember everybody. But of course, I’m sure we’ve forgotten some people. This list is in no particular order. I’ve added a little information here and there.

Harvey Korman – Harvey ‘discovered’ Don and became a big fan. He signed Don to be a part of the cast of his new variety series, The Harvey Korman Show (after the Carol Burnett show). He had a part written especially for Don. The show was eventually cancelled. Christine Lahti was also part of that cast. Korman was very important to Don and his career.

Jackie Mason – Don did a week on The Jackie Mason Show. Jackie loved to say, “Don Sparks, the most famous actor you’ve never heard of.”

Hans Conried – Right after Don’s first Equity show at the Old Globe, he was in a play called Norman, is that You? with the legendary Hans Conried.

Ray Walston – Broadway actor, star of My Favorite Martian – Don worked with him in a play in St. Louis.

Jesse White – in the original Broadway cast of Harvey (also the movie) and the famous Maytag repairman in commercials for years. Jesse was a funny, fast-talking comedian and Don really liked working with him. They did a play together.

Ralph Bellamy – in a week-long shoot for an episode of L.A. Law. Don loved working with him.

Robert Reed – Of The Brady Bunch fame. Don did a play with him. He was an extraordinarily nice man.

Josh Logan – Legendary director of South Pacific, Annie Get Your Gun, Mister Roberts, Picnic and Bus Stop, among other landmark stage productions and movies. He directed Don in at least two plays. Don got to travel with him and soak up all his wisdom and stories about the theater.

Jerry Van Dyke, Craig T. Nelson and Shelley Fabares – in an episode of Coach.

Andy Griffith – on an episode of Matlock. Don was thrilled to work with him. At the end of shooting, Don went up to Mr. Griffith and said, “It was a pleasure working with you, sir.” And Griffith responded in his wonderful drawl, “Well, it was pleasure working with you.

Don Knotts – On Three’s Company. Loved working with him.

John Ritter – Don did two episodes of Three’s Company with him, playing two completely different characters. John Ritter was a kind, generous, and wildly funny actor. So generous, in fact, that he spent time making sure that Don got good camera coverage and close-ups. That’s how generous he was.

Jimmy Smits, Susan Dey, John Spencer and Harry Hamlin – during nine episodes of L.A. Law, where Don played District Attorney Russell Spitzer.

Renee Zellweger – in My Own Love Song, a movie where Don played a homeless man and sang a Bob Dylan song. Zellweger and Don talked a lot about guitars and music. She was very nice.

Timothy Hutton – in the movie, Kinsey.

Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal and Tea Leoni – in an episode of The Naked Truth. Mary Tyler Moore was really a lot  of fun to work with.

John Goodman  – in Henry IV at the Old Globe. (I worked on that production, as well.)

Ed O’Neill, Katey Sagal – in an episode of Married With Children

Kelsey Grammer – in a play in Los Angeles, another play at The Old Globe and on Frasier. Great guy.

David Hyde Pierce and Shelley Long – on Frasier.

Brad Pitt – he was very young and just starting out – he and Don did an episode of Freddy’s Nightmares together. I’ve seen it and it’s very funny.

Will Smith – on an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Scott Bakula – on an episode of Quantum Leap.

Ted Danson – on Cheers and on a film – great guy.

John Ratzenberger, Frances Sternhagen – on Cheers.

Dennis Franz – on Hill Street Blues. Another lovely man.

Blake Edwards – legendary director of The Pink Panther, Victor, Victoria, etc. On two films.

Bruce Willis and Kim Basinger – in Blind Date, a movie directed by Blake Edwards.

Richard Mulligan – on an episode of Empty Nest.

Tuesday Weld and Joan Hackett – in Reflections of Murder, the first movie Don was cast in.

Sam Waterston, Dianne Wiest – on Law and Order.

Jerry Orbach, Angie Harmon, Richard Belzer, Ice-T – on various Law and Orders.

Denis Leary – on three episodes of Rescue Me.

Peter Scolari and Betsy Palmer – in a production of The Foreigner.

Deborah Raffin – She and Don worked together in a play in Canada. Don said that she was a wonderful person. She died too young.

Robert Hays – Don and Bob have known each other since Don was 18. They roomed together while working at The Old Globe and are still close friends. Don also did an episode of Bob’s series, Starman. Forgot to mention that I worked with Bob at the Old Globe in a production of Mister Roberts. Wonderful guy.

Beah Richards – the legendary actress who played Sidney Poitier’s mother in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner did an episode of The Practice with Don. She won an Emmy for that episode.

Jay North – the original Dennis the Menace – Don did a play with him.

Tab Hunter – Don did a play with him.

Elinor Donahue – of Father Knows Best and Andy Griffith fame – Don did an episode of Get A Life with her, along with Chris Elliott and Bob Elliott (half of the comedy team, Bob and Ray.) Lovely woman.

Okay. That’s all for now. If we think of any more names, and we will, I’ll let you know!

There is a book review up on Just Let Me Finish This Page. A wonderful read by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Stop by.

Happy Wednesday.



Close-ups: On Weeds and Shakespeare

Sometimes I like to take pictures of something I might usually ignore or find annoying and see what the lens reveals. Case in point: some weeds that are growing around the humongous weeping willow stump. It’s hard to keep that area nicely trimmed and I end up ignoring it. Like a little kid, I figure if I don’t ‘see’ it, no one else will, either.

A close-up reveals such beauty:




If I had any available space on my walls – and I don’t – I’d frame these. They’d make a lovely triptych.

I caught up on my sleep last night, thank goodness. Don had his first day of rehearsal. First days are rather overwhelming. So many new faces; not only the members of the cast, but the designers and stage managers and staff members. I find first days exciting and exhausting. This particular play, Our Town, is starting off the 50th Anniversary season of the Long Wharf Theater and is being directed by the Artistic Director, Gordon Edelstein. Don has worked with him before in a production of The Front Page (gosh, that was one of my favorite productions, ever.) I’ve worked at the Long Wharf as well. It’s a really wonderful space.

Today’s agenda here at home: Work on Act 1 of Hamlet. That means gathering up all my reference books, which are stashed here and there in the cottage, sharpening my pencils (Blackwings, of course), and going at the text, word by word. I make sure I know what every word means. I check the scansion (the rhythm and beats) of each line of poetry. Shakespeare wrote in Iambic Pentameter and those beats give clear clues to the stress and meaning of a line. I look for any abnormalities in the scansion that might be a clue to the character’s emotions. It’s fascinating and painstaking work that I cannot rush. I usually try to tackle an act a day, but sometimes it takes longer than that. Depends on the play. After about 3 or 4 hours, I have to stop for the day.

I do all of this so that when rehearsals start, I am armed with all sorts of notes on the text and know how it should flow. Then, when I work one-on-one with the actors, I can be as of much assistance as possible in helping them find their way with the text and, together, we can work on speaking it clearly and easily, with a full and free voice.

When I work as a dialect coach, I’m usually billed as Voice and Dialect Coach, or just Dialect Coach. But when I work on Shakespeare, I am billed as Voice and Text Coach because the text work is absolutely essential. It’s like working a crossword puzzle. There are lots of clues to be found and analyzed that lead to clarity of intention.

Getting started is always hard for me. I put it off. Perhaps because I’m a natural procrastinator? But once I start, I always become immersed in the play.

Then, maybe a bit of lawn mowing….we’ll see.

Happy Tuesday.