Friday, July 31, 2009

The Bounty

It's moving out time again, and between the two of us, Amaree and I have managed to pick up the following stuff from the dumpsters:

1. A microwave (about twenty years newer than the one she got last year)
2. A vacuum (which we don't need, so we'll take it to the thrift store)
3. Wire shelves
4. A dining room chair
5. A full-length mirror in a wooden frame
6. Two under-bed storage containers from Target
7. A drying rack for clothes
8. A bag of men's shirts, large, mostly from Banana Republic (again, off to the thrift store)
9. A book of American history
10. An anthology of black American drama
11. A headcollar and instructional DVD for Kiz (and there's a crate in the laundry room...could get it for Jeff's house)
12. And last but not least, a three-volume box set of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Still in the plastic wrap. I felt like I was adopting Kismet all over again--come here, baby, I want you when no one else does.

I mean, we're talking about useful, practical stuff here. We could have had another vacuum, a couple of lamps, some shelves, a dollhouse...quite apart from the fact that this stuff could have gone to the thrift store, some of it was quite literally cash in hand--a box set of Tolkien, unopened? Ever heard of Amazon, idiot? honestly. Mine now!

Speaking of the beagle...I had to buy him a new harness today because he'd outgrown his other one. Before I got him, I bought a "medium" size, optimistically, but he was so small and underfed that I had to take it back to Petsmart the next day and get the small. Well, a year later, he fits into the medium (barely), and I'm feeling something akin to what moms feel when their babies outgrown newborn onesies. Next thing I know he'll be driving and applying to college. *sniff* They grow up so fast.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to Virginia

And I'm back. It was a whirlwind week, that was for sure. I'm not exactly clear where it all went, but I remember being home and seeing everyone, and I remember flying back, so clearly I had a vacation in there somewhere.

The flight home on Friday was uneventful. Both parents were at the airport to pick me up, and then we went over to see Grandma. Who was happy to see me and hear about Virginia and give me the third degree about the boyfriend. And then, of course, we went out for fish, meeting up with Mr & Mrs. Lemery and Lily, better known as the bug in some circles. She is the perfect baby. Charming, always ready to pose, crying only when she is hungry, sleepy or when Grandpa stands between her and a red cut glass candy-dish. At the restaurant she attempted to help herself to Grandpa's beer when he wasn't looking, only to have ever-vigilant mom take it away from her. "It's okay," I said consolingly, "When I take you to England we'll make up for it." I don't think her dad appreciated that.

Saturday my folks hosted a family picnic at their house. It was cooler than we would have liked, and occasionally drizzly, but the pool is heated, so I spent most of my time in there, playing with my younger cousins. It was wonderful to see everyone, and catch up with everyone, and I'm so glad that most of the family managed to make it--we had thirty four people all told, coming and going.

Sunday...I honestly can't remember what I did Sunday. Oh yes, dinner with the family again, only this time salmon and salad, and two very needy chocolate labs snotting up the window as we ate.

Monday I was thwarted by the EAA in my attempts to rent a car, so I left GB nearly three hours after I intended to. I drove down to Fort Atkinson, picked up Laura, and we met up with Sam in Madison. The first time the three harpies have been together in over three was wonderful. Cackling away and swapping stories we've heard in the news and rumors about old classmates. Laura even commented on how "quiet" Sam's fiance is, and I had to gently point out this was probably due more to the fact that he couldn't get a word in edgewise. Sam had to go back to work on Tuesday, and Laura was working on the organic farm co-op, so I drove up to Wanaukee and caught up with yet another bride to be. (for those of you keeping score, this'll be my fourth stint down the a bridesmaid) Laura and I caught up with Sam in Spring Green that night, by watching the American Players Theatre production of A Comedy of Errors. It was hysterical, even with the occasional rain. REAL Shakespeare geeks stand out in the rain, because we're HARDCORE INTO THE BARD.

Wednesday--Sam was working again, so Laura and I did Spring Green, where the theatre is located. Spring Green is small, but fascinating. Lots of cool little shops and galleries and organic stores. But, eventually, you've seen all the arty jewelery you care to see, so we headed over to that Wisconsin standby, the tavern. After being carded (more for being outsiders than looking underage) we proceeded to order Leinies and then rail loudly against guns and Republicans which, I'm guessing was probably not really appreciated in a small rural Wisconsin tavern. They did not, however, have cheese curds, so we went around the corner to the bar where the theatre people hung out, and proceeded to repeat the process of ordering beer and railing. This time with a huge basket of curds. "There ought to be a road movie," I said, "through Wisconsin, and the whole time one of the main characters just keeps saying 'Man, we gotta stop and get some CURDS, man.'"

Then we picked up Sam and whizzed back to Madison to see the sixth Harry Potter movie. Even though none of us confirmed it with the others, we all knew we'd be seeing it with each other. Oh, and Sam's fiance, of course. Oh I cried. I cried so hard. Even knowing was was going to happen, I cried so hard. Definitely a good movie--I don't know if I'd say it was the best movie, but definitely in the top three.

Thursday I had to say good-bye to the girls and come home. It took a lot longer than I had planned, but then again, I wasn't really looking forward to saying farewell either. Got home around six and was immediately taken out for more food at Pasquale's, despite my protests that I wasn't in the mood for more cheese. (Cheese curds for an afternoon snack, movie theatre popcorn, Burger King at midnight and cheese curds for breakfast do not a happy tummy make)

Friday was a shopping day: stopped at the bank, got a new cell phone and raided Lane Bryant for some new jeans and tops. Then I got to see the fabled Lenny's, the tavern where my dad will spend the odd hour watching sporting events. Dinner was fish again. 'Cuz its Wisconsin. And that's just what you do on a Friday night.

Saturday was supposed to be the boating day, but it was (you guessed it) drizzly and windy again. So we ended up going to the Outagamie County Fair, where we wandered amidst the prize calfs and hogs, admiring the skills of the local four-aitchers. And had some more cheese curds.

Packing up and leaving was incredibly sad. I miss my family a lot, especially right now. But getting home was wonderful--it was nice to step off the plane and see unadulterated sunshine for the first time in a week. And Kismet has been amazingly well behaved ever since I got home, probably because he's afraid I'll ditch him again. Not forgetting of course, coming home to boyfriend kisses. There's nothing I wanted to do that I didn't get to do. Except next time I come home, I wanna take a boat ride.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I was going to talk about how much I love being back in the Land of My People, the land of cheese-eatin', beer drinkin', Packer lovin' Wisconsonintes.

But mom just poked her head in the room and told me that Lily's about to take her first dip in the pool.

Talk to you later!!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Things We Share

The jacket that I was working on when I had my accident was sent to the laundry, because of a few drops of blood, and it came back today. So I had the chance to conquer my nervousness about the eyelet attachment, get back on that horse and finish the project. The only twitch came when I accidentally nudged the presser foot switch, making a small noise, causing me to jump some feet in the air. Without moving my hands, of course. The wound is surprisingly nondescript, healing well. The only indication that major trauma occured is the gouge in my nail...that'll take some time to grow out, and in the meantime I get a nice reminder to keep my hands clear of the needle everytime I look down.

Tomorrow I am flying home to Green Bay. Today I ate watermelon, which I love, and pondered on the things my family has passed down to me. Love of watermelon comes from my mom, who craved it when she was pregnant with me. Craved so much, that when she sent dad on a run two years later, the grocer asked "Liz pregnant again?" I also inherited my chin from her, a chin which has been neatly sculpted after a decades long assault by modern orthodontia into Greek statue like perfection. I'm incredibly vain about my chiseled jawline...also a little sad I don't look as much like my mother as I used to. I also found myself thinking about my mom the other day when I bought a bedskirt from the thrift store. We had a fight once about bedskirts: I was in the strictly anti-bedskirt camp, on the basis that they are dust-catchers and just get in the way of my favourite storage space. But then last week I found a lovely beige one, a flat-hanging bedskirt without all the dusty ruffles, only three dollars, so I brought it home, washed it, ironed it and put in on my bed. I can't quite get it to lie flat without pulling the mattress all the way off, so part of it is squashed underneath, but from the front, it looks lovely.

From my dad I get my ability to understand the complication that is modern American football, even being able to lecture people about the intricacies of punting vs. going for the endzone. I think of my dad when I listen to classical music, even if it's a piece he's not familiar with. I am pleased with myself that I genuinely enjoy classical music, as if I am joining a long list of people who have enjoyed this music century after century, and I have dad to thank for this, for dragging me out of bed to listen to the three tenors. Thanks to him too, for being able to tell them apart by just listening, and being able to smile stiffly when people gush about Andrea Boccelli being "just as good as Pavarotti!" We also share our love of kids, of being able to honestly enjoy the company of small people, of patience, of doing goofy things, but not realising they are goofy until the parents arrive and say slowly "what...are you doing?" Playing. It's fun. You should try it some time.

Now that I live here, away from my parents, they have much less influence over my life, although the lessons they passed on to me when I was younger are still very much engraved on my personality. Everytime I cuss I hear my dad's strict rejoinder. Everytime I eat cookies I see mom's raised eyebrow. I look forward to inflicting my own personality on a small person some day, hopefully passing along the best parts of what my family gave me.

All this meandering, however, hasn't helped me figure out how to say what I want to say. I am going home to visit my family, and, just as importantly, catch up with friends, some of whom I haven't seen in a very, very long time. And some of you, loyal readers, will no doubt be aware of something else that is going on at home. Grandma, rock of our family, is not doing well. I am very afraid to look at her and tell her how much I love her, knowing that it could be a lifetime before I get to say it again. There is so much joy and pain wrapped up in me now I don't know how to express it. It feels wrong to dissemble to you, my people out there in the dark, who have been with me for so many years, and yet I don't want you to think that I am going for drama (for once) I simply wanted you to see what this vacation will include. This is my life, my family, and I need to be home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Now I know what it takes to see a doctor immediately in today's healthcare environment: put a needle through your finger.

Yeah, it finally happened. Today I was using the eyelet attachment on my Bernina, trying to ensure that the linen wasn't bunching up under the needle, when suddenly there was an almighty crunch and the machine came to an abrupt halt. The kind of halt that usually happens when there's too much fabric bunched up under the presser foot, only this time it was the index finger on my left hand. Blood, yeah. I started to yell, and then realised the needle was still there, so I cranked on the flywheel and got my hand free. At that point, coworkers had rushed over to see what had happened--Nicole said that she realised something was wrong because it wasn't a "spider scream"--and pretty soon I found my finger doused in hydrogen peroxide, wrapped in gauze and encased in ice.

It was pretty shocking. The pain was tolerable, the worst part was the sound of the needle and having to free my finger. I had to fill out an accident report (well, alright, dictate an accident report) and then we went to the doctor. He was satisfied I hadn't sewn my fingerbone, and then went into an explanation how my finger hurt because of a trauma to the subcutaneous nailbed. "If you can imagine," he said, sitting back, "severe trauma to your nailbed..." And I sort of waved my finger in his face: "I don't have to imagine it, Doctor, it happened." I was glad to see my sense of sarcasm was coming back, it meant that the shock was wearing off. And then, when the nurse came in and gave me my tetnus shot it was all I could do to stop myself bursting out laughing when she warned me the needle might hurt a little.


I went home, confusing Kismet, and spent the afternoon napping in bed. Jeff came over after work and let me relive some trauma on his shoulder, and then Erin and Nicole came over to keep me company. I'm feeling a little tired, a little weak, but my finger doesn't hurt nearly as much as you'd think, looking at the punch through the nail. Hopefully it won't fall off...sigh.

Oh, and I also dropped of my car this morning so they could take care of the "SERVICE ENGINE SOON" light. Eighty dollars later it turns out the gas cap was broken.

I am so ready for vacation

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

being american is rad as hell

The reason I don't post often is because I am working nights. Also, I spend a lot of time at my boyfriend's place, and he doesn't have the internets. Also, part two, I sit in front of a sewing machine all day instead of a computer, so I really, really don't get much time for checking emails and updating my blog.

This last Saturday I was back at CW, participating in the military programs for the Fourth. How far we've come in a year! Last year I could barely march and wasn't cleared on a musket, this year I was tossing a Brown Bess around with aplomb and muttering under my breath at people who couldn't stay in step.

Things are going well here. I'm tired, and I'm looking forward to going home in a week, to visit with my family. My grandma is not feeling her usual perky self, so I'm anxious to visit her--although she manages to mention everytime I call how adorable Lily is. I guess I have a little competition for favourite grandchild now...

Friday, July 03, 2009

Oh, and one more thing

I opened up the permissions on NLD so anyone can read this.

I originally wanted to hide NLD because I was applying for this job and I didn't want potential employers to read my embarassing stories about stumbling home from the theatre at three in the morning four years ago.

Except I didn't even get to the interview phase--although I did get a very nice email from the vice president explaining that the reason I didn't get an interview was because they had a hundred and seventy applicants and the seven people who DID get interviews had all had more than thirty years experience.

And I thought "well, hell, I should leave NLD private anyway, even if no one is looking, 'cause then I can bitch about work."

But I am such a narcissistic brat that I really, really, really want people to read my blog. All you lovely people out there in the dark.

So I took down the restrictions...and I'll try not to complain about work too much.

The book I want to write starts like this:

"When people find out I work at Colonial Williamsburg, the first question they inevitably ask me is, do I get to work in costume? Usually they're disappointed when they find I'm actually behind the scenes, although they perk up again slightly when I tell them I get to make the costumes. I leave out the boring bits about hemming and buttons.

A couple times a week, however, I do get to work in costume. I throw on a lovely green linen gown and petticoat and go haunt the Randolph house, a storyteller for the ghost tours. One night I was standing in the doorway of the passage, enjoying a freshening breeze, when I noticed a guest (always 'guest,' never 'tourist') standing by the fence, looking at me with the "I have a question but I'm shy" face that any interpreter can spot a mile away. "Good evening!" I said, hands on hips, full of my eighteenth-century persona. "Hello," the woman said timidly, "Are you Eve?" "Oh, no," I cheerfully replied, happy to get some practise in as a first-person interpreter, "My name is Mrs. Peachy. This is my home. I live here with my husband and my young son." Then, my well of information about Mrs. Peach exhausted, I dropped the first-person act and came down the steps toward the woman. As I approached I saw that she was wearing a Teacher's Institute nametag, with her name and her hometown on it. Then, underneath that, another word: "Eve." And I instantly realised that this year the teacher's institute--an intensive weeklong historical immersion for teachers who are hoping to add a little pizazz to their social studies classes--must have assigned each person a historical figure to learn about. All this woman had was a name to go on. She had found herself the right house, all right, but had no clue who Eve was.

I walked up to the fence. "Eve was a slave," I explained. "She was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Randolph...after Peyton died, Eve and her son ran away and tried to join the British side, but they were captured and brought back. Eve was eventually sold." I am trying to be gentle, but I can see the teacher in front of me--a woman not much taller than me, middle-aged, wearing a white shirt under a fanny pack with sensible New Balance sneakers--is startled to find out that "her" person was actually an enslaved woman. "Was she--was she brought back by force?" she asks me.

The truth is, I don't know. In the ghost story I tell, Eve is "retaken." But I didn't write the script and I know that artistic licenses have been taken. "It's possible," I say slowly. "It's also possible that she returned under her own power, because her family was here, or she was unable to care for herself and her son, or the British kicked her out of their camp when they moved to Yorktown." Bits of historical fauna float to the surface of my brain, fascinating details about Americana I've tucked away. "Either way, Mrs. Randolph found it necessary to sell her because of her 'bad behavior' (this much I do know, I've read Betty Randolph's will, where she directs the executors to take the profits from Eve's sale and buy a slave for her niece, since the niece won't be inheriting Eve now.) so I guess we can assume that there was some bad blood there."

I am trying to be helpful, and I suggest to the woman that she really needs to come back during the day, when the Randolph House serves as an interpretive site for the African American programs. "The interpreters here would know a lot more than I would. I'm just the ghost." I can see though, that this friendly Kentuckian teacher is a little shook up. And who wouldn't be? You go on a treasure-hunt for the person on your nametag, and you end up confronting a dark, dirty secret of America's past.

This episode stuck with me because in some ways, I find myself performing the same task. My background is in theatre, in playwrighting, specifically, and for a long while now I have wanted to write a play about William Lee, George Washington's manservant. Slave, bought and owned by Washington until he died, but also one of the people closest to the Father of Our Country. Three steps behind Washington during his entire life and what do I know about him? Nothing. But for some reason--there's a play there, and I want to dig it out.

For all intents and purposes, I should be the last person who's interested in a play about Billy Lee. I am white. I am female. I am a Yankee--or at least, not from the South, which is how Southerners define "Yankee" although those of us from Wisconsin would probably check "other" on the great census sheet of union-vs.-confederacy. A rabid Anglophile, I can rattle off the British monarchy from Henry VIII all the way up to present day, but I peter out on American presidents somewhere around James Madison. To me, living in Virginia is almost like living in a foreign country with a history and a culture that should be learned and studied and appreciated.

This either makes me ideally suited for the task at hand, or in way, way over my head."