Twenty-One

First – and foremost – it’s the 21st anniversary of the day I met Don.

Happy Anniversary, my love!

7-4 CTC

And of course, we open Our Town  this afternoon, and the party will commence afterwards at the lake. Don’t know how long I’ll be there, since I have to get it together, i.e. pack, for my departure tomorrow morning.

Last night’s preview went very well indeed. It’s a lovely production. Everyone is doing beautiful work. The audience loved it. We’re opening this afternoon instead of tonight because it’s the 4th. Have to say it’s weird opening on a matinée performance!

Some views of the lake:

7-4 dock

7-4 chautauquabelle

The Chautauqua Belle, a paddle wheel steamer.

I managed to speed walk to Chautauqua Miniatures late yesterday afternoon on the only break I had all day. It was hotter than I thought and I was exhausted afterward, but I roused myself enough to buy a few more minis.

7-4 cushions

Some cushions for the green ‘wicker’ chair that will go in the rooftop garden.

7-4 minfoliage

Mini Foliage to work some magic in the garden.

7-4 frame

A lovely little frame – made by the same company that made the miniature Roseville Pottery.

7-4 flowers

Potted hydrangeas.

7-4 dhfind tablechairs

And these. Need I say how much I love them?

Happy Anniversary to Don and me, Happy Opening to everyone in Our Town.

ClaudiaSignature140X93

Houses on the Lake, New Favorites & A Birthday Wish

Before I get going here, a Very Happy Birthday to my beloved sister, Meredith! She and her family are on their way to a wedding, so I don’t know if I’ll get to talk to her directly, but let me assure you, she is the best sister, as well as a wonderful mom and wife, aunt, daughter and all-around incredible human being. I love you, Mer.

Warning: picture-heavy post ahead.

It was beautiful yesterday. No rain. I know – shocking! On a break from rehearsal, I grabbed my camera and walked around the grounds.

I discovered some cottages on a little hill surrounded by trees – just down the street from the theater.

7-3 house in the woods

7-3 brick stairs

Then I walked along the lake. There are lots of charming cottages here, but there are also larger homes that are on the lakefront. Here goes.

7-3 copper roof

That’s a copper roof – so striking in the sunlight.

7-3 houses by the lake 1

7-3 houses by the lake 2

7-3 houses by the lake 3

Love that window upstairs.

7-3 houses by the lake 4

7-3 walk by the lake

7-3 chautauqua women's club

The Chautauqua Women’s Club.

7-3 favorite house by the lake

Talk about making a statement! I love this house. Incredible detail everywhere. According to the Artistic Director, it was fully restored a few years back.

7-3 flower & bee

Because I miss taking pictures of my flowers back home.

7-3 salmon house

Do you remember this house from a few posts back? I thought it was pink, but it’s really a salmon color. I decided we needed a close-up.

Another new favorite. Feast your eyes on the detail, from the tip of the roof on down. The upper porch is screened-in. I can’t decide what I love most, but that cut-out detail that swoops and curves between the porch posts makes my heart sing.

7-3 salmon house 2

I simply cannot stand it, it’s so beautiful. Many people name their cottages here in Chautauqua, so this cottage might already have a name, but I’ve dubbed it Salmon Cottage, nonetheless.

7-3 streetview

7-3 street scene hill

And my latest discovery – I’d never seen this one before yesterday.

7-3 newfavorite

What do you think it’s called?

7-3 newfavorite 3

Yep. Gingerbread Cottage. Built in the same year as Mockingbird Hill Cottage.

7-3 newfavorite 2

Detail.

7-3 newfavorite 4

The side view – this cottage is on a corner. What a treasure!

7-3 newfavorite 5

Love the color scheme. Love, love this cottage.

Chautauqua is beautiful. And as often as I’ve taken walks on the grounds, I’m always discovering something new, like Gingerbread Cottage.

Be still my heart.

New post up on Just Let Me Finish This Page – re: Harper Lee.

Happy Friday and Happy Birthday to my sister.

ClaudiaSignature140X93

Street Scenes

Another long day yesterday. But, that’s what I’m here for. The show is taking beautiful shape and is in the midst of some fine tuning on everyone’s part; actors, designers, director, crew, and me. Tonight we have an invited dress rehearsal. The days are now for fixing things, rethinking things like entrances, or quick costume changes, or lighting. Lighting is a key element in this production as most productions of Our Town  are bare-bones in terms of set, which is as it should be and as specified by the playwright. The lighting designer is the same guy who designed A Raisin in the Sun last year – he was also my roommate during last summer’s stay.

I had a little time to take a short walk yesterday. And to take some pictures.

7-2 street scene

Street scene, per your requests. My favorite white cottages are on this street.

7-2 white dollhouse

Speaking of the white cottages, here’s a close-up of one of my favorites, sans umbrella on the porch. You can see the garden seating area on the side of the house. I want to go inside.

7-2 side yard of 'yellow' house

And a close-up of the side garden at the other white cottage. These cottages are so beautiful, I can’t stand it.

7-2 street scene 2

Street scene number two.

7-2 street scene 3

Street scene number three.

7-2 street scene 4

Street scene number four.

7-2 michigan chairs

I fell in love with these chairs last year: Michigan Adirondack Chairs – my home state. And this year, I noticed the table is in the shape of the Upper Peninsula.

I would like a pair, please.

Happy Thursday.

ClaudiaSignature140X93

Our Town

7-1 our town

My friends, I haven’t much of pretty Chautauqua to post today. I was in tech rehearsals for over 12 hours yesterday, didn’t get home until after midnight, and will be back at it today. Normally, I tend to stay away from the first day or so of tech rehearsals as those rehearsals are about lights, sound, costumes, and entrances and exits – and not about my end of things. But since the tech/dress time is so short and the available time to help the actors in this phase equally short, I’ve been on hand. The director is letting me grab actors as needed to give them a note or two. It’s an efficient way of working, I must say.

But it makes for a very long day.

And, in any spare time I had, it rained.

7-1 bratton

I love this theater. It’s one of the oldest buildings in Chautauqua and was a lecture hall at one time. A few years back – not sure how many – it was redesigned and it’s now a beautiful theater. It’s almost church-like in the interior. I’ll try to grab a shot or two this week.

Needless to say, I’m tired. But I slept in today so I’m good to go.

Our Town. To my mind, this is the perfect play. And the most profound.

So many people, including myself at one time, tend to think of it as a ‘high school’ play. Or as something dated and maybe slightly hokey.

That could not be further from the truth.

Thornton Wilder explores love and life and marriage and birth and death in the fictional setting of Grovers Corners, New Hampshire. The set is bare bones. The story is narrated by a character called the Stage Manager. The characters spring to life as the Stage Manager ‘conducts’ the action. And through this incredibly profound microscope of a play, we explore fundamental life experiences. There’s not one issue in the play that doesn’t strike a chord within the audience. There’s nothing superfluous. There’s no excess. There’s only heart and soul and the mysteries of life and death.

I cry every time I read it or see it.

The last act, which takes place in a graveyard, is stunning. It raises questions about death. What happens when we shed this ‘mortal coil?’ How and where do we go, if we go anywhere at all? What about those left behind?

All of us have experienced loss. I had to cope with loss at a fairly young age, when two of the children I babysat died from different cancers. I’ve lost friends who died too young. I’ve lost friends to suicide. A student of mine was murdered in a drive-by shooting. I’ve lost more friends than I count to AIDS. I’ve lost aunts and uncles and grandparents. I lost my brother. And I lost my mother.

Through it all, just like every person on earth, I’ve contemplated the mystery of death – and the fear of death. What happens? Is there more than this earthly existence?

The Stage Manager speaks of the dead experiencing a ‘weaning’ away from earthly concerns.

I don’t know anything for sure. None of us do. But the genius of Our Town is that we are taken on a journey through watching the fictional town of Grovers Corners and its inhabitants, a journey that leaves us deeply moved and not-quite-the-same as before.

When Don was in this play last fall, I was terribly moved and shaken and tearful at the end. And now, I’m feeling that way almost every day.

There’s nothing more important, is there?

If you ever have a chance to see a production of Our Town  – go.

New post up on Just Let Me Finish This Page.

Happy Wednesday.

ClaudiaSignature140X93

 

 

And The Rain It Raineth Every Day

Post title courtesy of William Shakespeare – Twelfth Night.

We’ve entered tech/dress rehearsals and it all has to be done in about three days, so the rest of the week here will be intense. It’s also very rainy around here and there are going to be thunderstorms today, so taking photos is on hold for the moment. I swear I can’t remember a more rainy season than we’ve had this spring and early summer.

Anyone want to take a guess at how many hours I’m going to have spend weeding when I get home?

The mind boggles.

On Sunday, after the opening festivities – and in the rain – I took a few more photos.

6-30 littlewhitehouse

I forgot about my other favorite white house. This is it. It’s an adorable tiny cottage, with an extension on the side. Sorry for the umbrella in the shot, but as I said – rain.

It has two matching rockers on the porch with faded flower cushions, a little hooked rug on the pale pink porch floorboards, two beautiful hanging plants and incredible detail. The yard is beautifully landscaped and over to the left you can see the lovely outdoor seating area – full of white wicker furniture. Oh my heavens.

This house is right across the street from my other favorite white house, so I took another picture so you could see more of it.

6-30 favwhitehouseyellow

Gorgeous. Yellow porch swing, yellow chairs, yellow flowers in a vase.

6-30 greenhouse

Next door is another house, with less ornamentation but quite lovely. I don’t think it had been opened up for the summer when I took this picture, if the blue tarp is any indication. Love the graceful arches on the front porch and the paint colors.

You can tell it’s next door to the house pictured above because….yellow umbrella.

And finally, I saw this tiny little house for sale on one of my walks the other day.

6-30 tinyhouse

There are houses and cottages of all shapes and sizes here.

I’m tired and more than a little homesick, but I’m hanging in there. The cast and staff of the theater are wonderful people. My roommates and I are doing our best to give each other some space in this apartment, but we’re also having fun together. I couldn’t ask for nicer people.

I’m the oldest of the roommates. And I think I’m the oldest person working at the theater at the moment. The director, who is a pal of mine, is a few years younger than me. Don and I regularly have conversations about this new phenomenon of being the oldest person in the room. What the heck? When did that  start happening?

I just wish the weather was nicer, but I can’t control that (darn it) so I’ll just have to go with the flow.

I posted a book review on the other blog yesterday. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, here’s the link. I loved it and I think you will, too.

Happy Tuesday.

ClaudiaSignature140X93