Monday, June 27, 2011


It's Monday, June 27th...I've been home in Green Bay for three days now. I should say--I've been based out of GB for three days now, since I spent Saturday and Sunday roadtripping to Cashton, WI to go to a Ruetten family reunion. I haven't seen most of that side of the family since Grandma Ruetten passed away seven years ago. Seems like everyone my age has got babies running around...yet it was nice to catch up with the cousins. Since we last met, I've "grown up," no longer treated like the little kid. Although there was a conversation about "after you graduate, get a job, marry, have kids...what else is there to update people about? Still living, still working, raising a family." What people do: live, grow, love. I also got a chance to learn a little about Grandpa Ruetten's ancestors, the ones who came over from Germany in 1881. Since living in Virginia, where everyone is a hobbit when it comes to geneology, I've gotten interested in tracing my family roots back. It's startling to see people with familar names, faintly traced in a few quick sentences and a picture. Leaving we descendents to fill in the blanks.

Another quest when I came home was to clean out the closet in my old bedroom. It's become a hole for memorabilia from high school, college, early trips abroad. And there's not really anyone but me who can decide what to save and what to throw. I've been working at it today with a descendent's mentality: both of my grandmothers left closets full of pictures and souveniers that mean little or nothing to their children and grandchildren, and I don't want to do that. I'm being ruthless. Haven't gone quite so far as to throw out the baby album, but I know there will come a day when I pare it down to a half-dozen pictures. For now I've been editing my high school experiences, tossing three yearbooks and only saving my senior edition, and making sure I don't have TOO many copies of the London Tube map. After all, it will be completely different when I go back.

Still, there are a lot of things I'd like to hold on to. Silly things, like scarves, that will come in handy next fall, and potential housewarmers, like a silk embroidered shawl. Then there are the absolute treasures, like the tape of an interview I made with Grandma Lemery. And the pictures...oh the pictures. I am hoping that in a hundred years there will be more than one photo of me left, but I'm trying to get rid of the ones that include people whose names I can't remember.

I may be the only organizer to have four piles: donate, save, trash/recycle and burn. There is something so cleansing about burning old things. I don't want strangers in recycling plants fingering my photos, I don't want people who were once very near and dear to me to think that I don't value that time in our lives together...but too many photos and a desire to move forward sends them into the flames. Tomorrow we'll take a load to Goodwill and then start on the other half of the closet. In the meantime, I'm left to reflect on what is and isn't important to me.

Monday, June 20, 2011

pictures = 1,000 words

I wanted to write a post about how much fun I had at the Shakespeare this weekend, and at the gorgeous B&B in Fredericksburg, how much I enjoyed antiquing wif mah honey and the new project involving repurposed WWII linen mail sacks, and I wanted to illustrate all this with photos from our indoor picnic...

...except Nicki forgot her stays, and all she can look at is her midsection.

Jesus H. Gay, how did I get this fat again?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Managing Fine

It's quarter after eleven on a Friday night. I should be showering and going to bed, but I am enjoying staying up late, knowing I'll be sleeping in tomorrow. I have been baking and cooking all night. Tomorrow Jeff and I are going to a Shakespeare performance at Kenmore Plantation in Fredericksburg, VA. The company is encouraging folks to come dressed up in eighteenth century clothes, so that's what well be doing, along with about ten of our friends. Sounds like quite a party.

Last Wednesday was my first night as a Program Manager for a little show CW is offering to guests as a free bonus when they stay in a CW hotel. It's called "An Evening at the Playbooth" and it's basically three excerpts from three shows we have going on...the idea being that if the hotel guests like what they see they'll buy tickets for the full monty. As of six-thirty last week we had fifteen tickets in the system as being given away...and six people showed up. I told the attendant, who was watching the gate, "if anyone wants to come in, let them." We ended up having about forty people by the end (something about African drums just seems to multiply people...) Prior to that I had told him to go get a music stand out of a nearby house when it turned out that the music stand that should have been in the Playbooth's storage shed was AWOL.

It turns out those were bad decisions. My background as a theater person told me that the more people who wanted to see this show, the merrier! and if we're missing a prop--go get the prop! But that is not the way CW runs things. I have been kicking myself since then...independent decisions be damned, I want to fly under the radar, lockstep, and fall more in line with the way CW does run things.

See, I applied for this position? And got an interview? And then, after a three week silence, an email saying "Thank you for your interest, but..."? And, frankly, if CW doesn't think I am qualified for this position which was basically written for someone with my background...then it's pretty obvious CW doesn't see me as supervisor material.

But I don't want my show to fail. It might be a patchwork of evening programs, it might be designed to sell tickets and pacify hotel marketers, it might be annoying for performers to get dressed up to only "work" for fifteen minutes...but it's still my sodding foot in the door and if it fails, it's not going to be my fault.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sarah Palin, Historian

Recently, Sarah Palin has been on a bus tour, to...well, no one is exactly sure what she's doing, but she has a bus and a film crew, and hey, who wouldn't stop at some American historical sites if they had that? Here's a video of what she was doing in Boston

I'm sure most of my loyal readers have seen this video...basically Mrs. Palin tells how Paul Revere "warned the British" by "ringing bells" because they were coming to "take our arms." In her defence, the British WERE coming to steal weapons and powder at Concorde, but Revere was warning the American rebels. My beef is not with Sarah Palin's idiocy. My beef is with her appropriating American history in the cause of...whatever it is she's up to. (Running for president? Running for a seat in the Senate? Trying to get her job back at Fox? Keeping her name in the news?) As a patriotic American, I sorta resent Sarah Palin for co-opting 'merican history, and trying to use it in the name of Freedom, Values and the American Way.

Notice how in the previous paragraph I referred to the American patriots as American rebels. That's because, in 1775, they were rebels. They were freakin' terrorists. But gradually, as history has been written by the winners, they were transformed into Patriots, who, apparently, are direct descendants to the...Tea Party. I am much more comfortable with the murkier idea of rebels turning themselves into the brain is comfortable with the idea of governments permuting over gives me hope that it can change again in future. The Founding of America was not a foregone conclusion. The Founding Fathers were men, same as us, who disagreed, a lot. And the country they spawned contains Tea Partiers and protestors, patriots and patriots.

Further proof of this co-opting and whitewashing of early American history can be found in a recent (ish) story about a woman dancing at the Jefferson Memorial. In 2008 a group of friends gathered at the Jefferson Monument to celebrate his 265 birthday by dancing, wearing headphones and listening to iPods. Sort of like a flash mob. But one of the women was arrested, and after she sued, the DC court ruled that dancing at monuments was illegal. National monuments are a place for contemplation and reflection...not dancing. Naturally, some people felt this was an infringement of their rights ("our monuments, our respect?"), so they protested, and more people were arrested. Article and video here. The idea of dancing at a monument (especially a monument to an anti-big government, freedom lovin' founding father!) has not lost momentum: most recently a group of people danced again in May 2011. This time, police showed up but arrested no one. (I especially like the part of this article where the former Marine pulls out the Constitution and says "I got yer permission right here!")

No one is suggesting we Macarena at the Vietnam Wall, or Charleston at the USS Arizona. But a little perspective on how we honor our history would be appreciated. Some people view our Founding Fathers as, personally? I get a little tickled when I think about how TJ had time to write the Declaration of Independence, be ambassador to France, get elected President and then start the University of VA...all while being a bad-ass violin player. Huzzay!