Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ring out the old, ring in the new...

How lame am I, updating my blog when there's only thirty minutes left to go in 2008? Pretty lame. But I've never been a big New Year's Eve celebrater--it's midnight, after all, and we old folks have got to go to bed early. I did go out for curry with a couple friends here, and then introduced "That Hamilton Woman" to Kismet, although he was sleeping when Nelson uttered his most relevant line. Damn that beagle anyway.

I clicked back on "January 2007" to try to figure out what the hell I should write about. It didn't help much. Reading that was a lil' slice of badness that I'm glad to be over with. 2008 was a pretty good year for me, but January of that year was not. Cold, dark Chicago days, running around temping, no friends, wondering if I'd ever find permanency... The one bright spark I had to laugh at: Me, casually tossing out that I'd applied for a CW technician position on January 14th. Three months later I'd be in Williamsburg...

2008 has been a good year. It wasn't perfect, but unlike 2007 I finally feel like I've got a solid base underneath me to branch out and try new things, like acting, like writing, like performing, like interpreting. Things could change tomorrow, of course, but for right now I'm pretty content. I'm feeling more in control, and more like I can make decisions that will affect my life positively instead of reflexively reacting to whatever happens to me. That sounds like so much psychobabble, and maybe it is--but it's the calm honest truth, not the slightly giddy desperate tone that was used last January.

It's been a good year. A long year. I guess I'm ready for the next one. No bells, no champagne, just high-thread count sheets, a sleepy beagle and some naval literature. Bring it on 2009. I'm ready.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I should be packing...

I've been trying to email myself a bunch of photos off my parent's camera for the last twenty minutes now, but apparently Yahoo has logged off early to, I don't know, declare bankruptcy or something. It's been a crazy week for me--lots of visiting and catching up with relatives I only see once or twice a year. Most disarming was the discovery that a lot of them read my blog, so no more confessionals about my booze-fueled writing binges, I guess.

And I also just read a Dear Abby column about how people just "hate" being forced to look at photographs of other people's families, who they don't know. Well, I now know for a fact that's not MY loyal readers, so here are some photos culled from several cameras...not merely a public service, but also so I can have these photos in Wmsbrg, to look at whenever I get blue about being away from all y'all.

And if anyone has any photos they'd like to share (family or urban-familia) just email them and I will post them with an appropriately inappropriate caption...

This is my immediate family, mom, dad, brother Peter, sister in law Brenda and of course, baby Lily in the obligatory smiling in front of the tree photo.

Mom and Dad have been hosting an open house for nearly ten years now. This is Uncle Ray, his wife Mary, Aunt Margie and mom, representin' the Ruetten side of the family.

Aunt Margie has been hosting Christmas Eve at her house for longer than I can remember. Here's me, mom and dad taking a break after a frenetic round of Christmas present stealing.

My Aunt Margie's son Peter, his wife Liz and their kids John and Katie...Katie finds it hard to believe that her dad used to take me to the movies BEFORE SHE WAS BORN, but I assured her that he actually was THAT OLD.

Me, graciously helping to open the present that Katie stole from me: a pig that you plug into an mp3 player that then dances. Katie is into High School Musical. We're trying to change that.

Okay, back to Christmas Day at our house...the day was totally overwhelming due to the fact that we had not one but TWO adorable infants at our house (with a third on the way!)...this is my cousin Elizabeth with her niece Jocelyn, and of course Brenda and Lily. The two girls seemed to get a kick out of meeting each other, but they seemed overwhelmed by all the "aaaawhs" and "wouldja look at thaaat's?" and the camera flashes.

Lily seems to prefer human flesh when it comes to teething, disdaining her pacifier. Whenever she could, she'd grab my hand and stick my fingers in her mouth...of course, that could be because I was snacking on delicious cheese and sausage and whiskey weiners...

The two grandmas and Lily, in front of mom's shiny, shiny stainless steel refrigerator.

Grandma and Lily. Even though she's not as strong as she used to be, Grandma still managed to hang on to Lily for a long time, despite repeated attempts to steal her away.

Aaaaand, one more picture of Lily. I could post hundreds, but...I think this one pretty much sums it up.

I'm embarassed at how few photos I have here--most of the cameras were trained on the babies, but Mom calculated we had thirty people at our house during Christmas Day. It was so wonderful to see everyone and enjoy the decorations and delicious food...I feel a little guilty that I'm getting out of both the decorating and taking down and all the commesurate cleaning, but I have to work tomorrow. Sigh. Of course--after a week of up and down weather, snow, rain, fog and everything in between, it's a beautiful sunny day and all systems are go.

See you in Virginia!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Going Home

This time tomorrow I should be winging my way over Midwest, en route to Wisconsin and Christmas at home. I'm not sure if I'll be updating or not, so in the meantime, here's Kismet with one of his Christmas presents...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

sandy paws

This week has been a long week. I've been doing so much that I feel like i haven't really had a chance to enjoy the Christmas season. And I had pretty much forgotten that my birthday was coming up until the choir sang happy birthday during our Thursday's rehearsal.

Wednesday was our department Christmas party, which meant that no one really felt like doing any work for the next two days. I signed up to donate blood on Thursday. I had forgotten about it until my supervisor came up to me and said "ready?" and then I went, I've given blood before, and I remembered it being no big deal, but I completely forgot about the part where they shove a giant needle into your arm. The woman who was taking my blood must have been new because she didn't tighten down my tourniquet enough. There I was, happily pretending I was Nelson about to get my arm sawed off when I realised I was growing light headed...luckily another nurse came over and got things moving so I could get that needle out of my arm and go get a tuna sandwich.

Saturday I spent cleaning. I am flying home on Tuesday, and I didn't want to come to home to disaster central. So my room is's hoping it'll stay that way for two days. And then Saturday night I went to my roommate's play, The Gift of the Magi. The script was pretty mediocre, but the staging was interesting and the acting was good. I had bought a bouquet for my roommate, which I left on her bed as a surprise before I went to bed. I heard her come home...and when I came out of my room this morning, she had decorated the dining room and bought a little cake for my birthday. yay! Birthday surprise!

My church had a huge musical service this morning, so I sang at both services. Then Kismet and I went to Yorktown, to the beach. I love swimming, sand sea and surf, and I want to make sure that he'll be a water puppy someday. He seemed intrigued by the water and showed no fear of going out on the pier, so that was good. I even treated him to some Ben & Jerry's...he had some frozen vanilla yoghurt in a cup. He was so enthusiastic about it that he got it all over his snout, just like a two year old. I had chocolate therapy. All in all, it was pretty fun. I even found a birthday present on my way home: a one-cup teapot with St Paul's and the Tower on it. It rests on a matching cup that has a reflection of the two buildings in the Thams.

But now I have to run...CW gives its employees turkeys, and I decided to cook mine right away, since we have no freezer's done, and I have to make gravy. bye for now!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas in Wmsbrg

We had our Christmas party today--as a departure from the norm, we went to a Chinese buffet. It was nice, except for the fact that the chairs were crammed so close together it was nearly impossible to get by. But! Sushi and sesame chicken and fried rice, crab rangoon, dumplings and egg drop soup and teriyaki chicken... I managed to stop after two plates (plus dessert), but I could have grazed for hours.

Afterward we were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the DeWitt Wallace Museum's new exhibit, Quilted Fashions. The tour was led by Linda Baumgarten, who's written several books about eighteenth century fashions and textiles. We started out in the actual collections of CW, oohing and aahing over actual costumes from the 1700 and 1800s, carefully unfolded in their storage drawers. It was astonishing to see actual garments and note the handstitching--"ah! THAT's how it's done!"--all the while resisting the urge to touch, lift, stroke, lick, etc.

Then we went upstairs and Linda talked about the quilts and quilted clothes on display--lots of quilted petticoats and embroidered/pieced garments. The museum also features "study drawers" with different pieces...Nicole and I nearly had simultaneous heart attacks when we opened up the last one to reveal a beautiful black silk coat embroidered all over with lilies of the valley and other greenery. It's a good thing the drawers are covered with plexiglass, because I was very nearly drooling. So much pretty...

All in all, a very pleasant afternoon, and a nice break from work. We have no projects right now, so I've been repairing returned items, getting them ready to go into stock, to be reassigned. It's been low-pressure, so I've had time to practise hand sewing (flipping a stomacher is no fun, even in the 21st century) but it's less interesting that, say, building a jacket. We also exchanged Secret Santa gifts...I got a tin of sipping chocolate, some Walker's Shortbread and some Devonshire cream. Turns out my Secret Santa was my boss' boss...someone who's waxed nostalgic about London with me many a time, hence the Devonshire cream. Mmm...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Problem Dog

Our boss' boss' boss' boss came to visit us yesterday, causing a flurry of excitement. Apparently organising the linen scraps just because they are overflowing and spilling into the aisle isn't enough of a reason to get them straightened up. Mr. VP has been put in charge of the new "Department of Research and Historical Interpretation" and has been visiting all the areas now under his jurisdiction, which includes the interpreters in the historical area. He was very straightforward, understanding, honest and likeable--also British, which was a surprise. We didn't learn anything new, but it was nice to see the higher ups take an interest in our little shop. I wish he would have hung out a little longer though--we set up every mannequin in the shop, dressed in all class levels, military, fife and drum, livery, etc, but he didn't ooh too much. Oh well--I guess it was too much to hope that Mr. VP was also an interpreter, like our boss's boss's boss, Mr. Director, who uses his wigs and props as decorating items in his home.

But anyway.

So there's this dog that lives in our apartment building. His name is Max, I think he's a golden lab mixed with something else...big rangy caramel guy. Probably a year or younger, but really friendly after you get to know him. He lives in a third floor apartment a few rows down, and every time I take Kizzy for a walk I can count on this big yellow head poking through the bars and then a high, desperate whiiiiiine... His owner is an older man who may be slightly crazy. I'm not sure. Anyway, occasionally Max will be outside running around without a leash on. He's got a collar, but no tags and since he's not neutered--and since we don't have the luxury of a fenced in backyard--he's pretty much free to go wherever.

This past Sunday Max came running up to me and Kizzy as we were going for our walk. There's a little fenced-in retention pond behind the school where we go sometimes, so I thought I'd take them both over there, shut the gate, and then I can let Kizzy off his leash and they could run around. Great. They loved it. Had a great time. Max loves to play, Kizzy loves to be able to run around. But coming back we had to cross a road. Now, Kizzy is on a leash and is learning "stay" (meaning to wait for my okay to cross the street) but Max, leashless and eager to baptize the streetlight across the road, scooted out in front of a passing car. I honestly thought I was about to witness vehicular dogslaughter. Somehow, by the grace of God, the car swerved and Max made it to the other side. The car pulled over and a young woman (a William & Mary student, judging by the sticker on the window) got out. "Is that your dog?" she shouted. "No," I said, crossing the street myself, Kiz firmly at my side. Max was waiting for us--but then the woman began to call him, probably so she could pick him up and take him to the SPCA. He started to go to her...and walked right in front of another car, which also missed him by miraculous inches. "He lives right here! I'll get him! MAX!" I finally shouted, and the dog came with me.

When we got back to the apartment, Max came right up to the door with me. Oh baby, I thought, if I had more square footage and less roommatage... But I had to leave him outside. I called our apartment manager--remember, this is a Sunday, so I got the answering service. I explained the problem: "Basically, he's just allowed to run around wild. He is going to end up dead or rabid or picked up by the humane society. I know who his owner is, if you want to talk to him, but honestly, it might just be for the best if Max does go to a shelter...that way he has a snowball's chance of finding someone who'll actually give a crap about whether he gets hit by a car or not." The answering serviced judged it "not emergency," said they would pass it along to the management on Monday and hung up. I dithered about calling the SPCA myself. In the end I didn't. Max could probably do better elsewhere...but if he did fail to find a home, he could be euthanized. And I can see how he'd be a challenge for anyone. He's a big dog, not stupid, but since he hasn't been trained since puppyhood, it would be hard to start now. And then there's his howling. Last night when Kiz and I went for a walk I thought a wolf was being slowly tortured before I realised it was Max, depressed about missing his buddy. I've seen his head forlornly poking between the porch railings, so I know he hasn't been hit by a car yet, but I don't know if his owner has recieved a warning...or if he's just keeping Max locked up instead of doing the responsible thing and walking him.

So what do you think, dear readers? Should I call the SPCA the next time I see Max running around wild and fancy free? I've no wish to consult his slightly crazy owner, but he is going to get hit by a car otherwise. We live on the point of a triangle with roads on two's going to happen. Max needs someone who cares about him more--but then again, it's none of my business. After all, I keep a dog cruelly locked in a cage for nineteen hours a day. But it galls me to see such a sweet, loveable pup with so much potential just neglected like that. What do you think?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Operation One Ring: Success!

Erin and I have been twirling invisible moustaches and giggling madly under our respective breaths for the past two weeks now, because we've been scheming, deviously. Our friend Nicole has been dating her boyfriend Evan for six years now, and even though they're not technically engaged, she's already started planning the wedding...well, after all, he's in the Navy, so if you're dealing with a Navy schedule, it's important to plan ahead. I'm sure after awhile Evan was starting to feel like Nicole had it all figured out, so he turned to Erin and I for a little help to make sure his proposal was spectacular.

"Well," I mused as Erin and I pow wow'd on a break about two weeks ago, drinking coffee, "We could see if we could sneak him into the Capitol Ball..."

The Capitol Ball is an event CW has once or twice a week. It's held at the Capitol, and the group is taken through several different rooms. In the first room is a hysterical puppet show, the second room features period singing by some of the men of the town (nothing truly bawdy, alas, but the last time I was there I did recognise "Roast Beef of Old England"), and the third room has the dancing.

I called up the person in charge of evening programs. Could this happen? He laughed and said "why not" and told me to call the person in charge of the Ball. She was sort of taken aback when I explained what we wanted to happen, but warmed to the idea quickly. Erin, on the other hand, relayed information to Evan about when to arrive, where to arrive and--oh yes, if he could just send her his measurements, she'd try to get a costume for him...? Thank God for the kindness of the CW family...we managed to pull this together in about a week. Our incomparable boss's boss even pulled a costume for Erin less than two hours after getting the groom's measurements.

We arrived in the historical area early enough to make a round at one of the Christmas parties put on by a CW vice-president. All I can say is: watch out for the artillery punch. Then we crossed the street and headed over to the Capitol. Erin, Nicole and Barrett, another Navy guy who knew Erin, warmed themselves by the fire as I quietly conferred with the woman in charge of the program--who I'd only spoken to on the phone twice. "Everything okay?" I said. "Yup. They're all excited in there," she said, and we raised our voices about the weather, so as not to cause any undue alarm.

The puppet show was funnier than I remembered--maybe it was the players, or maybe just the artillery punch--and the singing was more enjoyable too. We were in a group with about a dozen people, mostly couples wearing evening clothes who had come from the CW taverns. ("Taverns" meaning five-star restaurants in this case, not "taverns" like wood-paneled bars back home.) When we got to the room where the dancing was held, Nicole, Erin and I all exclaimed over the dancers...they all had on their finest gowns, silk with miles of trim and decorations, gowns we had seen hanging on mannequins for weeks as they were trimmed. Nicole and I whispered together about the way the light caught the ruffles and rouches, but in the back of my mind my heart was pounding wildly...

Then the dancing was declared closed and the dancing master thanked Lady Dunmore for her graciousness. But Lady Dunmore rose and said "I understand there is a young man who has a pressing question for a member of the company...?" and the dancing master said "oh! yes!" and quickly ran through the door at the back of the room. Evan appeared, resplendent in a dark cream coloured coat and waistcoat, with chocolate breeches and a gold-trimmed hat. It took a second for Nicole to recognise him, and then I felt her nails dig into my arm. Somehow she managed to get to her feet and walk towards him, and then he uttered words of eternal love, dropped to one knee and proposed.

Nicole said yes, of course.

Erin and I applauded, cried a little and sighed, happy we had pulled it off--more than happy that we hadn't been rumbled in the past week. The CW company gave three hearty hip hip huzzahs! while the guests looked on bemused...then we were sweeping out into the cold night air. The guests congratulated the happy couple and disappeared, and we were surrounded by silks and satins, all the CW folk hugging and congratulating, Erin and I thanking everyone as sincerely as we could. It was too cold to linger very long, but we did manage another round of huzzahs.

All in all, a very splendid proposal, I think. A lot of fun to plan--and a fun night. I'm glad we could make it special for them. Congratulations!

Friday, December 12, 2008

pants, delayed

Sorry, loyal readers, didn't mean to shout. I blame the internet: now that I'm used to instant gratification, not being able to find an online vendor for genuine nankeen is annoying. Of course--after I'd waited for twelve hours I could go to work and get the phone number of SEVERAL places which sell nankeen. Arg. Not that I was planning on buying any fabric last night, but when the occasional finally does arise, I want to be able to snap it up thatfast. I need some new pants. Historical pants aside, I'm quickly running out of things to encase my legs in. I bought a couple of pairs of jeans from Old Navy last August which have proved to be nothing but crap in denim form...they fit so nicely when I wrote about them last, but the cloth has stretched beyond all recognition. The waistband is now so big that I can't wear them without a belt--and the belt cinches in so much fabric that the jeans hang off my hips by the belt loops. My lone remaining pair of Lane Bryant jeans are fraying on the inseam. I'm praying they'll hold out until January, when LB will be having a huge sale and I'm going to restock my wardrobe...I've learned my lesson: if $25 for a pair of jeans sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Oh well.

This, by the way, is not a cry in the dark for new pants. I was just observing how crap my wardrobe has become: if worse comes to worse, I can wear my polyester "business casual" pants which have hung, untouched but for church, in my closet since I moved here. But I was thinking I'd kill two birds with one stone and make myself a pair of trousers that I can wear around. On my long list of clothes I want to make is a set of sailor's slops--loose fitting clothes like those donned by the men in Nelson's navy. Yeah, I know, I know, but what good is mad sewing skills if you can't make silly costumes and prance around?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

no pants for you!


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pulling a sickie...

If I hadn't neglected to change my timezone from "Greenwich Mean" to "East Coast" y'all would see that I'm writing this at 12:15...a time which is normally spent gulping my peanut butter sannich at work. But I'm pulling a sickie today. I'm not feeling well...although I probably could have tottered in to work I would not have been at my most productive...and the thought of a day spent hunched over stays needing repairs while my head is pounding and my fever is raising the temperature around me was enough to convince me to call in. I did manage to get tha Kiz to doggy daycare in addition to being able to sleep at will, I'm having a beagle-free day. I have no money, but by God, it's worth twenty dollars just to have someone else wear him out for a change.

So I'm sipping tea, eating toast and surfing the internet. I have all my Christmas shopping done (thank you CW employee sale!) except for my niece, Lily. Lily, of course, being perfection incarnate. [You'll have to imagine the picture I'd put up here though, because I haven't gotten any new photos lately.] I was going to get her a copy of The Secret Garden soundtrack, since that was my first musical, or a copy of the first book of the "Little House" series, or maybe even a tiny model of HMS Victory, but then I decided that I should probably wait until she's old enough to, you know, manipulate a CD player, read, follow her dad around parroting facts about Nelson before getting her something like that. But what could she need? I suspect she lacks for nothing, except possibly squishy auntie kisses (and even then, she has two dogs), so I'm left plumbing the depths of the internet for ideas.

So this is cute...the actual story behind "ah dingo ate mah baby!" is actually pretty horrible, but it is kind of funny...tragedy plus five minutes and all that. Well, it's sold out anyway...I guess I should keep looking. It's not like I've got stuff to do today...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I feel like that one part in Phantom of the Opera where Madame Giry goes "Here, I have a note" and everyone groans. We got another memo today from the higher ups...embedded in the six pages of business speak were a few new items of note. One, that we're not getting raises this year. According to a colleague, the raises are about thirty cents an hour, which is about twelve dollars a week...if the Foundation needs that twelve dollars a week, I guess they can have it. But I could really use an extra twelve dollars a week. The other item of interest is the fact that the decision makers are waiting until January to take a look at the holiday numbers and decide the next course of action. Which could mean more layoffs or what have you. So! Good news! I don't have to worry about being laid off until AFTER Christmas. Not that that's stopping me, mind you. Like a conscientious shopper getting all her holiday shopping done in November, I like to get my worrying in early.

I still like working for CW order to demonstrate to people that we are not "going dark," El Presidente has requested all the candles in the windows be left in place throughout January. A nice touch I thought. "It's largely symbolic" he said, "but at this time, we need symbols." Okay. We're also going to be getting a free Christmas turkey next week...I'm looking forward to it. Although, with both me and my roommate getting a free turkey, it could be turkey, turkey, turkey until it's coming out our ears. We'll probably cook one and freeze one...if we can find room in the freezer.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Long weekend

The concert went really well Saturday. I had so much fun that the hour and a half seemed to fly by. The sanctuary was absolutely packed with people--they even had to put some in the fellowship hall. It was so beautiful to see the church lit up by candlelight, decorated for Christmas and echoing with the two-hundred and fifty year sounds of Handel.

Afterward, Nicole, Erin and I went out for dinner, and then I came home and finished the coat for my Salvation Army bear. I was sad to see him go, but I think his coat turned out well...I even stopped by the gift shop at the visitor center and picked up a tin whistle as an extra gift.

Everyone thought the hearts on the tails are so cute, but they're actually period accurate. And the buttons came from the small clothes--we replaced the pewter with shiny metal ones to match the shiny metal on the new coats, so now we have about three thousand extra small pewter buttons.

Sunday I worked Grand Illumination--which is just about what it sounds like. Basically CW sets up three stages with music and entertainment. Then, a little after six, they shoot off fireworks at the Capitol, the Palace and the Magazine, and light candles in the windows of all the historical buildings. I was again playing barrier attendant, so I got to direct people around the ropes and answer questions about when the fireworks started and where the best place to watch them from. I myself had a front row seat: I've never been so close to fireworks that I could see them and hear them simultaneously. My favourite were huge "fans" of sparks in red white and blue that completely enveloped the Capitol on four sides and made it look like the building was exploding. I'm amazed they didn't lose a window. Everyone was in high spirits, despite the cold. By the time the fireworks went off it was about nineteen degrees...I was layered like I was going to a Packers game on New Years Eve: three pairs of wool stockings, flannel pants, flannel petticoat, outer petticoat, long sleeved tee, short sleeved tee, shift, wool jacket, apron, cap, buckled shoes, gloves, mitts, and a wool cloak with a hood over all. I was warm, except for my toes, which were little blocks of ice by night's end. And tomorrow it's supposed to be sixty degrees. God I love Virginia.

A post-Grand Illumination pic with me and tha Kiz...he's getting to be quite a chunk of change...I think I'm going to have to start rationing his peanut butter.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


I have a prodigious soprano. Untrained, rusty from disuse, but high and clear when I get good and warmed up. It's a golden gift and I use it a lot, mostly in the shower. Or when I'm doing dishes. Or when I'm walking the dog. Or driving in the car. Sometimes--even at work, dodging spools of thread and (closed) safety pins from my unappreciative audience.

Oh God, how I love to sing. Half of the reason I love being Methodist is because we sing a lot. Did you know John Wesley wrote a list of suggestions for singing in a congregation? It's in the front of the Methodist hymnal...

1. Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up and you will find a blessing.

2. Sing lustily, and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of it being heard, then when you sing the songs of Satan.

3. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, as to be heard above, or distinct from, the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.John Wesley

4. Sing in time. Whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before, not stay behind it; but attend closely to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can. And take care you sing not too slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from among us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

5. Above all, sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing Him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this, attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve of here, and reward when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

I only hope that Wesley wouldn't consider Sondheim "songs of Satan" because in that case we have a problem.

And I love singing the Messiah. It's a piece built for my voice. A choir with a hundred and fifty people so I can belt out those lovely fortes without standing apart, yet I get covered up whenever I get lost in the runny bits. Lots of high notes, lots of little dancing pieces leading up to moving chords that clash and resolve in the most satisfying manner. And the words. Sometimes it's easy to forget when you're dealing with a technically difficult passage that this music is written to glorify the when we finally rehearsed the whole thing straight through tonight I was caught unawares. How satisfying to use this gift, this prodigious soprano, to say thank you to the giver. To join with the multitude in celebration.

Our concert is on Saturday, and I am really looking forward to it. REALLY looking forward to it. Oh how I love to sing. Now that the militia is done for the season and the evening programs don't have me on the schedule until January, I'm going to go back to the choir. I didn't realise how much I missed it.

MESSIAH will be performed this Saturday, the 6th, at 5pm at Williamsburg United Methodist's a free performance and all are welcome. I don't know how many "locals" read my blog but if you do--I'd love to see you there!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

do not want

I'm trying very hard not to "want" anything for Christmas this year...I have a new car, and that's more than enough present. (Kizzy, on the other hand, is very excited about his first "real" Christmas and would like stuffed chew toys and more Greenies.) Last year I posted my Christmas list online...I'm too old to be excited about the presents part of Christmas anyway. Seriously. I'm working on focussing about the other, better parts, keeping my mind on the real reason for the season.

But I just got an email from PETA, and I wanted to let you know about a program they have going, in case you have extra pressie money left over. Let me say I don't agree with all of PETA's opinions or their tactics. But they have started a program to provide doghouses to dogs who are chained up outside. Legally, the owners of these dogs have to give them up to the authorities or to adoption groups, and if they do not, the dogs can't just be taken, unless they are being overtly neglected. But PETA is able to provide wooden doghouses with straw inside, which is better than nothing. At $265 a pop, it's outside my price range, but if everyone who reads NLD donated $10, that would be one less dog outside.

More information about PETA's program here.

Adopting a rescued dog has really challenged me, which is why I like the idea behind this program. Kizzy was literally picked up by the side of the road. The only clues I have to what happened to him before are little quirks of his personality: the fact that he's only just now grasping the idea behind "sit" and "stay." His ability to gulp down food in less than thirty seconds, like he's never eaten before. His non-barking. His overwhelming friendliness despite...despite whatever happened to land him by the side off the road. And the most disquieting thing--the fact that at one point his tail was broken and never reset. When he lies down on the floor it sticks straight up like a flag, adorably. But it gives me pause: what happened? How long was he out in the wild? Did he catch his tail on something--or did someone break it for him? It is just the perfect height to catch in a car door. I should know, I have to watch out for it when we go over to the historical area for our Saturday walks. He's not the dog I expected: like a football-playing son, I am constantly worried I'm not able to be a good mom because I don't understand him. He entertains me, irritates me, licks me and pisses me off sometimes. But he loves me, and I love him and we're learning to live with each other. I guess I'm rising to the challenge...I only wish I had more room so we could get another dog.

Monday, December 01, 2008

big yellow coat

There's a line in 1776 where Abigail Adams asks her husband John how Martha Jefferson was able to join Thomas in Philadelphia, while she, Abigail, is stuck in Massachusetts. "Winters are softer in Virginia," Adams replies, then hastens to assure her that this results in women who are only "fit for Virginians." It's true though. Winter is softer here--"cold" is maybe thirty degrees. There's no snow yet, although it did rain all day on Sunday. I don't miss it. Having Kizzy means a walk every day, rain or shine, and I have enough trouble getting motivated without two feet of snow on the ground. And relatively warmer weather has meant that I haven't taken to my bed in a fit of hypothermia and madness.

When I lived in Stevens Point I bought a bright yellow coat. It's a man's coat, and it was big on me then. It's huge on me now. Should Kizzy and I ever get caught in a blizzard, I could probably tuck him inside and curl up until it passed. There are so few clothes that have survived my weight ups and downs, my trip to London and back, that wearing these pieces always conjures up memories. For this coat it would have to be the miles I clocked back and forth between our house and campus. It became obvious when I put my ipod into the inside pocket...which is all stretched out from the CD player that used to reside there. Funny, that.