Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Monday, February 27, 2012

The song of rain

I woke early this morning to the song of rain.  Soft, soothing pinging on the pipes on my roof.  A staccato beat of lovely rain drops dancing on my roof, washing the dirt and pollen, grime and dust off the plants and my car.  I love the sound of rain.  I love walking in the rain, I love dancing in the rain, I love sitting and watching the rain.  I love snuggling down under the covers and watching old movies or reading a good book with a hot cup of tea as the rain comes down outside.  But not today.  No, today I am........wait for it............don't the Opera House.  Surprise!  What???  you are not surprised?  really?  

Ron, another volunteer and worker here at the Opera House said he was going to bring in a sleeping bag.  I said I used to say I was going to put a cot upstairs in one of the dressing rooms, but then I realized that was silly.  When was I going to sleep?  I am always busy and running trying to keep up with everything here.  Sleep?  Nope, too much to do.  He laughed and said I had a good point.  

WARNING:  If you are going to get upset with me and tell me to slow down, or to have negative thoughts or ideas about how busy I am, then please, skip this post.  I know that I am busy.   I know that I do too much.  I know who I am.  I have tried to go against my nature my entire life.  But the bottom line is I am a worker bee.  An ant.  A creature most comfortable doing.  A human doing, who has to make a concerted effort to be a human being instead of a human doing.  And honestly?  I love my life.  I love everything I get to do. 

Do I get tired?  Oh yes, yes I do.  So?!?!  I will rest later.  Or not.  Life is short, I don't want to miss anything.  And yes, some things I do are only to make other people happy.  But it makes me happy to see others happy.  Yes, I am a Pollyanna.

I know I am busier then someone with Stage 4 lung cancer should be.  After all, eating, resting and getting moderate exercise are the things I can do to keep myself healthy.  I have always been healthy, even with chronic diseases, and I just don't think of myself as sick or disabled or not capable of doing anything I want.  And resting, not doing is just not in my nature.

Friday I volunteered here at the Opera House office and then stayed over after work to set tables, assist the caters getting the plates ready.  I served dinner, I cleaned up after the dinner and I worked the spot and the sound effects.  We all work hard.  We all do what we need to do to keep things running smoothly.  It was a 13 hour day here for me at the Opera House, and I left exhausted, but it was the last weekend of Nobody's Perfect, and there were a lot of things I needed to do in the office to help out.  I did have a perfect show that night.  I have not had bad shows, but it was the one night where I hit everything perfectly on cue. 

Saturday I was here at 12:30 for rehearsal for The Fantastick's.  At 5:30 I had to ask to be excused so that I could come home and change before I had to be back here at 6:00 to get ready for dinner and the show, closing night of the  Nobody's Perfect.  After the show it is our custom to sit around one table.  Crowded together laughing and talking, reminiscing, usually about Colin, and saying good by to the show.  After spending this much time as a group each ending, even though we will all probably be in another show, it is still an ending.  A closing.  Turn off the lights and tear down the set kind of thing.  Take apart and turn into memories a special time of play and joy and laughter.  But after 12 hours I was bushed and headed home.

I had friends who had come from out of town to see the show and one stayed over in my guest room that night.  We sat up and talked until 1:00am, Then I just collapsed into an ooze of cranky exhaustion, shuffling to bed where I lay tossing and turning all night.  I am switching my crazy meds and I have not slept.  No dreams, no REM sleep, just night after night of tossing and turning, struggling to turn my brain off, growing more exhausted everyday.  I need my sleep, even more these days.  And to go a couple of days without sleep has always been difficult for me, but with this schedule, it was becoming unbearable. 

Sunday morning I woke, exhausted and cranky.  My eyes bleary, my mind sluggish, my body heavy.  I fixed breakfast and drove my friend north of Thomasville, turned around in the pouring rain and pointed the nose of the toy south.  I got to the Opera House about 12:30, we were supposed to be there at 1:00 to break set.  When I had headed north past the Opera House on my way to Thomasville I had seen Denise's jeep already there so I knew they had come in early to work.  By the time I got back George had joined Judy and Denise and they were already taking the walls down.  It is so amazing that it takes so many days to plan and design then build a set.  Weeks to rehearse and get ready for the show.  But we only have one day to take it apart and put it away with all the pieces still held behind of previous shows.  Memories in paint and wood, screws and tape.  The sets and props seem to take on the laughter and tears of both the cast/crew and the audience.  Now stacked up waiting to be useful and a part of another production.  I disconnected my sound and light equipment and carried what I could over to the elevator to be taken upstairs and put away.  Mary came with me upstairs helping me to slip the cords and wires, speaker and equipment away into their wedges.  She went back downstairs to get the next load going up ready.  I turned my back to the old show and prepared for another 5 hour rehearsal of running and dancing, skipping and hopping.  I am loosing weight.  I have no appetite, but calories in and calories out are tough when you are doing shows.  I always loose weight during shows.  The stress, the hours, the physical exertion, the exhaustion.  Geez, reading those words it is amazing that any of us do this sort of thing.  But the laughter, the love, the closeness, the friendship, the shared desire to give to our audience, learning new things, memorizing lines or blocking, playing and dancing.  That is why we do this. 

Sunday I got home around 6:30, early for me these days.  I talked to my Vicki and Dad and was in bed a little after 8:00pm.  Completely spent and exhausted.  But feeling good about everything accomplished for the weekend.  The house was respectable.  Dusting, but vacuumed, the dishes washed, the laundry done.  I know I am burning the candle from both ends and the middle, but for now, this is how it is going to be until I can get my commitments taken care of.

Last night I slept.  I dreamed.  I woke early like I do every morning, but instead of my eyes refusing to open, they fluttered and then gave way feeling as if they had been blessed with a gift finer then all the treasures known to human kind.  They had slept.  They had shifted back and forth the way eyes do during REM sleep.  Closed to the outside world my eyes had watched the visions of dreams in my mind.  My body released and collapsed.  Maybe the meds are starting to kick in, maybe it had not choice but to finally sleep.  I don't know.  But I woke with a smile brushing my lips, crinkling my eyes and pushing out my cheeks.  I felt like a new woman.  Whole and alive, not groggy and cranky.  Sweet blessed sleep, with the sound of rain dancing outside.  The dogs and cats and I nestled in my room, safe and warm, dry and together.  My little family surrounding me sharing their love with me, me with them.

I know that I can not keep up this pace.  I am not trying to.  I am not trying to prove anything or infuriate others.  I am not trying to do anything but live my life.  A full, busy, busy life.  A life of doing and experiencing, rich with friends and love.  A life that will most probably be cut short.  Some of that time gone because of the pace I keep today.  I know that.  I know that if I want to live longer the answer is not to do as much as I do.  But you see, it is not about the number of days I spend in this body on this planet.  It is about the experiences, the friends, the love, the things I see and taste and smell and feel.  I have been chastised a lot lately for the crazy schedule I keep.  Ms Moon has not been getting on me.  She has seen me struggle with busyness our entire friendship, she accepts me for who I am.  Vicki has watched me my whole life be like this, she loves me for who I am.  My Dad worries that I do too much.  But he also knows that is the person I saw in him, always busy, always involved and going and doing.  There are a lot of reasons I do what I do.  One is because that is what I remember with my parents.  To be liked.  Childish or not, I know that is a piece of the puzzle.  Another piece is to keep away the loneliness of being alone.  If I stay active and busy I am too tired to be lonely.  I am a social hermit.  I need to be around people at times, but the rest of the time I would just as soon lock the gate and stay busy with my hands in the dirt and my nose in a book.  By making commitments to my community and friends, it forces me out of that lock down and makes me put on a bra, a smile and get out in the world.  Something that I am not always willing to do.  But knowing that I am an extreme person, either full stop or full go, I know that if I did not stay busy here at this beloved old red brick building, that I might just disappear into Labrun and never be heard or seen again.  Hmmm, that is not a bad thing.  But I have made a concious effort to be part of my community.  To give and try in my little way to make the world better by doing for others.  I should be happy with myself for what I have already accomplished in my life.  But it is not enough.  Or is it that I am missing a piece of my puzzle and so I fill my life with busy doings to avoid that hole, that missing piece. 

I don't know.  I know that am tired to the bone.  But tomorrow and for the rest of the week it will be about rest and relaxation, mostly.  I am going into Tallahassee tomorrow on errands and then down to Gainesville to the Museum of Natural History and the butterfly garden with my friend Kim and then out to Apalachicola, if all goes as planned.

It is still gray and drizzling, but the rain looks like it is passing.  Tomorrow is supposed to be warm and lovely, a great day for a motorcycle ride.  A great day to put the top down on the toy and drive south for a couple of hours to see a friend.  Starting this weekend, everything moves to warp speed with rehearsals.  We will be all blocked and it will be about layering and prefecting.  Adding the little touches, the tilt of the head, the turn of the hand.  It will be exhausting, it always is.  But whatever, when the show closes and I am already in rehearsals for the murder mystery, I will be able to add another cool play to my bio.  Another wonderful experience to my memory banks.
The show must go on!
And I am but a mere player on this stage I have set
and I must dance and run
shout and weep
laugh and sing
keep my feet moving
always moving
always going
that is just who I am
and I like me
just as I am

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Is it spring yet?

Monday I was feeling a little better, still not quite right, but at least I was able to stand and sit upright.  So I got in the Malibu and drove east then north to Lake Parks, Georgia.  What a beautiful area, not so red clay as sandy.  I think it is geographically 157 foot elevation which might explain the soil composition.  It is a small place.  Wikipedia says that there are 549 people living in Lake Park, according to the 2010 census.  As far as I know I did not make it to Lake Park downtown, if there is one.  I was at the military reservation.  As someone who did not grow up with the military I had no idea about military campgrounds. 

This is a lovely campground right on Grassy Pond, which is really a lake in disguise.  It is mostly fifth wheels, but there were also motor homes and pull behind trailers.  Most had pullouts on the sides, so they seem to double in size once they squat on their little rectangle of woods.  There is a beautiful trail that follows all the way around the lake.  The trail is 3+ miles, but then you have to walk from one trail head to the other and so it comes out to more like 4+ miles.  Everyone in the reservation is military in some connection.  There were license plates from all around the country, including Alaska, many with Harley's lovingly parked in the site. 

Other Bob  (OB) and I packed up a picnic lunch and he with his walking stick and I in my sneakers, both in warm jackets headed off west on the trail not far from his site.  It is a lovely trail with lots of birds on the pond/lake and song birds in the woods.  OB has a bird feeder just outside of his dining room window where sparrows chattered away throwing seed to the ground for the beautiful morning doves.  Beautiful dove gray birds with iridescent chests cooing back and forth.  As we watched the bird feeders 2 different finches showed up to feast on the seed. 

We walked half way around the pond/lake and then stopped at a table right on the lake to enjoy our picnic lunch.  It was warm in the sun dappled areas of the woods, but now directly on the lake the wind which had shifted to the northwest, it was windy and cold.  But we ate and laughed, looking through the binoculars at the birds.  OB said he was told there was a nest of eagles.  We looked up into the tall pines, but did not see the nest.  OB has heard the eagles calling back and forth, so he has an idea where their nest is, but no matter how we looked, we did not see it.  After our picnic we finished walking around the pond/lake and then OB showed me the amenities.  It really is a lovely place.  We walked across the street to another pond.  This one looked like a pond, versus a lake.  And after the rain from earlier this week, there was water in the pond.  There is a trail going around that pond also, but instead we headed back to OB's site, leaving another adventure for another day.

I headed home after dinner.  I did not follow my directions, instead I tried to remember the directions OB had given me verbally.  I got lost.  I ended up in Jennings instead of Madison, so I had added over an hour to my drive.  I so enjoyed the day, hiking, a picnic, talking and laughing with a friend.  A day of quiet.  To unwind and no pressure or stress, just kick back and relax.

Tuesday I woke with a sore throat.  I gargled, but also took it easy.  That evening I went to zumba.  Hmm, that might not have been the best idea I have ever have.  It felt great moving for that hour, but then I went to the pickup rehearsal for Nobody's Perfect but I started feeling woozy and bad.  I left at intermission and came home and went to bed.  There is a bug going around, so maybe I have a touch of it.  I did call people I had been around to tell them I was a little under the weather.  I always try to avoid people when I am sick.  But if I get something, I always tell those I have been around.  I don't know that it will help them to get better quicker or avoid getting sick, but it might.  maybe.  If not, at least they will know what is going on if they do get it. 

Lisa, our Executive Director at the Opera House had told me she needed me to work.  I normally volunteer there on Wednesday, so I knew something was happening.  It turned out to be the legislative spouses farm tour in Jefferson County.  They toured various farms in the morning and then met for a luncheon at the Opera House.  That morning we set tables, filled glasses with ice, set the plates for the kitchen, made coffee and then what a wonderful surprise,  Alex, Kathryn and Olivia Brookins along with Tovya Vargas showed up in their black pants and white shirts.  That is the uniform we all wear when we serve at the Opera House.  First thing that morning Jane and Isabelle from the Camellia Garden Circle had come in and had made flower arrangements using locally picked camellias and some variegated ivy on each table.  So beautiful, so Monticello, so fitting that for the Camellia Garden Circle.  Our circle had gotten involved  because one of the farms toured was Golden Acres Ranch.  This is a goat, may haw farm owned and operated by one of our fellow garden circle members, Bobbie.  Our garden circle really tries to bring in all of agriculture and gardening with our activities.  We try to promote gardening/agriculture in different ways, often selling the most amazing and wonderful Atlas garden gloves.  Bobbie and her sweet hubby, Fred are very active in the agriculture community here in Jefferson County and that opens up all sorts of possibilities for our garden circle.  What wonderful possibilities.

A lot of people showed up to help.  Several ladies from our garden circle, the girls serving the lunches and then lots of friends of the lady who catered the luncheon.  She is not a working caterer, in fact she is not a caterer at all, but her mother had volunteered her for the luncheon because she is a fine cook and as I understand makes large meals for family and other events.  Catering is not easy.  I had a very small catering business a couple of times in my life.  Nothing ever big, but the hardest part is not the cooking, but the organizing.  All in all everyone seemed very happy with the luncheon.  After they ate they moved upstairs to the theater and had a small presentation.  Stephen Munroe did some cowboy humor.  I would have enjoyed getting to hear him.  I have heard him before and he is funny.  But we had work to do cleaning up after the luncheon.  These girls are young.  I have no idea what their ages are exactly.  I think Alex is almost 16, Toyva is 16, Catherine is probably a year or two younger and Olivia a year or two younger then her.  These girls are hard workers and already know their way around catering and waitressing.  They are sweet and friendly, a little shy, hard working, intelligent, funny young ladies and I always feel so lucky getting to spend time with them.

After all the dishes were washed and put away, the Opera House returned to its state prior to the invasion of the legislature's spouses I went into the office and started updating the mailing lists.  While I was working on the mailing list a woman came in for an appointment with Lisa to look at the facilities for an upcoming wedding.  She also brought her son.  He is 9 - 11 years old and absolutely amazing.  He was working on a project in his workbook.  It involved a lot of problem solving when putting together a rock-n-roll band and going on tour.  We looked up places he could stop at on the tour.  Not just states and cities, but also the things you can do in each city.  He designed the bus and made lists of people to go with him, things to pack and so on.  He really got into it, but also stayed on task and worked through the project focused on each new step building on the last.  He thought about geography, logistics, creativity and problem solving.  He was amazing.  I love other people's kids and he was a lot like my nephew Christopher in that he is so young and at the same time so old and comfortable with himself and interacting around adults.  I enjoyed spending time so much that the next time I looked up it was 5:30 and I had missed zumba.  But it was a good working day.

Today is warm and windy.  The sky is gray but every once in a while the suns peeps out raising the temperature another degree.  It feels like a beautiful warm humid spring day.  More like April then February.  I just might get outside and plant some pansies.  It is a little late in the season to plant pansies, but they will be fine for a while yet and bring in that spot of color in a garden that is struggling to flow with seasons that make no sense.  Tonight I hope to feel up to going to zumba.  I am starting to feel a little more capable in zumba.  I still stumble and fumble along, but I can see a big difference between when I started at the first of the month and now.

I have enjoyed being at home today getting to spend time with the dogs.  I am gone so much and we really do miss each other.  They are great fun.  From Harry's big old lay around and let me sleep to Ednarose's hyper I want to be outside jumping up and biting.  Bob simply wants to chase the ball.  The cats are even missing me.  Each of them coming up and wanting to cuddle.  Sweet precious animals in my life.  Just like my friends, sweet and precious beloved ones.  I know I speak about being grateful for my life so often.  But if you lived where I lived, and had the animals and gardens and beloved ones I have.  If you had all the gifts I have been given, you would be grateful also. 
And I am. 
Yes, I am.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

another full and busy week.....with a few twists and falls

Last night it rained.  The sky cracked and popped.  The protons and electrons boomed in the clouds.  The clouds released their moisture.  They wept and poured out that moisture while the sky lit up and the wind blew.  We needed that rain.  The tornadoes blew north of here.  The lightning filled the sky and touched land in places, but here, we were safe, we were blessed with rain. 

Tuesday after I volunteered at the Opera House office Mary picked me up around noon and we headed up to the Oncology Center.  I had thought my appointment was at 2.  I had told Mary and Lisa that it was at 2, but Monday when I got home there was a message from Stephanie, my scheduler saying that I had an appointment at 12:30.  I have no idea if it was my misunderstanding or I did not understand her correctly, but I had Ms Moon pick me up so we could make the 12:30 appointment.  We got there in time, but they did not call us back until after 2.  So, I have no idea what I did.  But we got to go in and see Ashley and then the amazing Dr. M.  Everything was the same as always.  That is good.  We discussed the possibility of treatment for the Hepatitis C.  We discussed what possibilities I would have with chemo with or without the treatment.  He gently, sarcastically with wit, chastised me for loosing weight and not drinking enough.  After we had hugged and helloed everyone at the Center we headed over to George and Louie's for lunch.  Fried Green tomatoes, chicken salad, Greek salad, Southern woman lunch food. 

We then headed back home.  Ms Moon had brought me a beautiful valentine card and orchid plant.  What a special surprise.  I had brought her a box of message hearts.  We both seemed happy.  But I definitely got the best deal of the day.  I got to ride in Ms Moon's Prias, talk with the amazing Dr. M, have lunch with Ms Moon and spend time just talking together.  She is so precious. 

I went to zumba that evening before getting the kids their burgers.  This is probably why I am loosing weight, going to zumba.  Well that, and rehearsals and not eating as regular because of rehearsals, and then so much physical activity.  Running at rehearsals.  Jumping, hopping, stumbling, undulating, shaking and wiggling at zumba.  I am sure burning up calories.  Something that I had not considered before going to the doctor.  I actually thought I was gaining weight.  But I had the crazies, so who knows when or if I was eating.  And I think maybe I need a new battery in my scale because it said I had gained weight.  I had told Ms Moon that I was having to watch what I ate because I was gaining weight and had to be careful not to put on too much weight before I had to run around on the stage for the Fantastick's.  Well, I didn't get that right. 

Wednesday I volunteered in the office at the Opera House again.  I worked most of the day, then I went to zumba and from there straight to rehearsal for Nobody's Perfect.  Thursday Carolyn and I watched Bride's Maids.  I have to say I had no idea the movie was going to be anything like it was.  I missed that completely.  We enjoyed the movie and it was fun to take it easy for a couple hours watching a movie.  Then to zumba and then rehearsal. 

Friday I straightened up the house in the morning, then met Manda and Falcon for lunch.  This is the precious couple I married last month.  They took me to lunch at the Rosemary Tree.  We had a wonderful time and they brought me the most amazing gifts as thank yous for doing their wedding for them.  I also talked to them about helping me with a website for sittinonaporch soap company.  Falcon is getting his masters in some type of computer thingy and Manda is good with computers.  I promised to teach Manda how to make soap.  More information on this later.

After lunch I headed over to where?  The Opera House of course!  There Jan and I set tables for the show that night.  A stop at the Winn Dixie to pick up a few things then back home.  Other Bob came over and we headed back up to where?  Oh yes, the Opera House for Friday's nights performance.  There I waited tables before running the spot light and sound effects.  We had over 40 people Friday night and Saturday night sold out, with over 75.  Ye haw!!  The show went well.  OB enjoyed the show.  But it is always late nights after the plays.  And it was a low pressure, dreary, gray, rainy time.  OB had driven over in his truck instead of his Harley. 

Saturday we headed out to fix the Malibu.  My very wonderful 5 door Malibu.  What I used as a truck since moving here.  But I have left it to sit.......for months.....and the battery was dead.  So we got the battery and some fuel treatment and continued up town to browse through the antique stores and thrift shops.  We walked from store to store then I headed over to where?  the Opera House.  Where Jan, Jack, Judy, Denise and I set the tables for the sell out crowd.  With the four of us, we were able to get things set up in less then an hour.  I headed out back into the gray rainy day and OB and I headed over to the best Mexican restaurant in town.  That is there logo.  It is the only Mexican restaurant in Monticello.  We headed back to Labrun where we got the Malibu running and played with the dogs.  They loved all the attention, tennis balls flying through the air, Harry laying  on the deck, his head in my lap.

Saturday evening I headed back up to, yes, the Opera House again for the Saturday show.  It was a little crazy getting everyone in and at the tables.  We had more people then we had counted out.  It was crowded, not everyone can see all of the stage; there were spots on the floor where only Jan and I could squeeze our little tiny butts in between the chairs and tables.  There were places that even the two of us could not get through.  But we got the meals served.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the meals. I only made it to the main course, then I starting getting woozy.  I felt fine, but my head was spinning, I was having a hard time staying upright.  I have never had vertigo like that.  I don't mean that I have never had vertigo, but there was always a reason before.  Last night, it was just out of nowhere with no warning.  Just bam!  I was falling over and looked like I was drunk.  I had not drank anything.  I had not had any change or difference with my meds.  I had eaten.  I was trying to drink more water.  I have no idea why this happened, but it was debilitating.  I went into the bathroom and fell off the toilet.  I kept falling off my little tech stage.  I fell through a door, but Jack caught me.  I went over the sound effects again with Rich and then Boone took me home.  He had to hold on to me as we walked out to the car.  I felt horrible.  I don't mean the spinning and woozy.  I mean about leaving the play, about abandoning my part in the show.  I am the one who has had practice with the sound effects.  It is not hard, but to just jump in with no warning, that was a lot to ask of Rich.  He and Jan worked the sound and the spot light.  it worked, but not as well as someone who has gotten to practice.  I was at home. I was sitting in my red chair.  If I laid down, my head would spin and make my stomach would start to roll.  So I would sit more upright and doze off.  But I was not comfortable and I kept waking up.  I finally made it to bed in the early hours of the morning.  I was able to sleep fitfully and at least one time got up to go to the bathroom.  I was not awake enough to realize I was still dealing with vertigo.  I would realize when I was laying on the floor staring into Harry's sleeping face.  When I got my senses back I would pull myself up and holding on to something to stay upright I would make it to the bathroom and then back to bed.  By 7 this morning, I was able to get up and down without falling over. 

I have spent the day not feeling right.  I keep having hot flashes wave over me or is it a fever.  My head spins, I have a terrible headache that is rolling over me, ebbing back and forth.  First pain from the center of my brain radiating out, then backing off so I can think.  I still do not feel "sick", but I have no idea why this is happening.   Did I do something?  Do I have something?  Is it contagious?  Did I expose everyone in the play?  Are we all going to be sick next weekend?  Am I typhoid Mary?  Or is this something completely else?  I have no idea.

Yes, I have been busy.  I did go to three zumba classes this week.  I did go to rehearsal several nights.  I was going all day.  I did have several nights without much sleep.  So, what is new?  I do that at times, and not fall over. 

Judy and Carolyn came over and we worked on the Murder mystery.  We chose the pages for the auditions.  We went over the set, we discussed characters we ideally would love.  We discussed options for the script.  We have a good basis for the show.  We are both such strong personalities and I think to people who do not know us would think that we get into arguments, but I do not feel like we are arguing.  Instead we each say what we are thinking, ask each other to explain our ideas.  We compromise sometimes, we think the same thing at the same time sometimes.  We work through our differences.  We try to give and take to make sure what is important for each other gets into the show somehow.  Carolyn was quiet and amazed as hour after hour we worked at it. Checking off the list of things that needed to be done.  Each of us thinking of things the other might not have taken much time to work through.  Judy had worked out the set.  I loved her ideas.  We disagreed on how to do it, but by the time we were done, we had used all of Judy's ideas with my input to come up with something simple, workable and trying to turn the Opera House into a bar in the future in space, deep space.  It is such a creative process.  It is a lot of work. 

That is my favorite part of directing with Judy.  She is able to see things that I do not.  She sees how to work somethings that I would not have thought about.  And with my different view of things it helps Judy to figure out how to make her ideas work.  Maybe it is a little different then she would have originally thought, but often she sees how she can get her concept off the drawing board into a 3 dimensional place to fill with actors, aliens and tell a story of murder and intrigue.  And when we leave the end of our session I admire Judy all the more for her concepts and her knowledge of sets and construction.  She understands how to play a joke, how to get the laugh.  She can see how the stage and actors all fit into with the audience to give our patrons the most enjoyable theater experience we can. 

I think now I will close up from this grocery list of events.  No big ideas, no deep thoughts.  Just a journal of events of the week.  I spent time with dear precious beloveds.  I worked out physically.  I did my community service.  I worked on three plays.  I finished a scarf where I learned how to shift different yarns while making a scarf on my knitting board.  I saw the amazing Dr. M.  I heard from the Social Security Office.  I am now officially handicapped.  It was hard filling out the paperwork applying to them to call me disabled.  It took me a long time to get through the process because I did not want to be called disabled.  But without that documentation I can not use the money from my IRA.  Well, not without a huge penalty.  I am not getting that much money from Social Security, and no other benefits, but it does allow me to use my money.  I do so much every day it is hard to think of myself as disabled.  But I know I do not have the intelligence I had prior to chemo therapy.  I do not have the stamina.  I do accomplish more the most people.  But then I crash.  I crash hard and sit in my chair and have to recover.  And maybe get vertigo.  Maybe.  I have to say that when I saw the letter instead of feeling overwhelmed and hating the tag, instead I felt relieved.  I don't feel sick or disabled, but I also know that I am 56.  I have stage 4 lung cancer.  I am not going to get better.  I am not going to live long enough to see all of my nieces or nephews graduate from high school.  I do go strong and hard and pretend like I am fine.  But I also know that is not reality.  It helps to survive cancer for me.  To admit it out loud, but to not really accept it in my heart.  To ignore the statistics. To pretend I am fine.  Not a bad way to fake believe my way through life.  And look at everything I do accomplish. 

That is real, that is not fake believe. 
Life is full. 
But my life is living fully with cancer. 
That is why I write this journal. 
To remember my life when I can not keep getting up and live my life. 
For when I can not remember my life. 
And getting to enjoy my life with all of my precious beloved ones.
that is real.
real life

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Birthday Harry

Today is Harry's 14h birthday.  My dear sweet precious freakishly giant little hairy boy is fourteen.  And old man for a dog. 

Sweet Harry

Harry's Mom, Maggierose

Harry's Sister, Lily
These three dogs were my "kids" for so long.  I loved these three precious creatures more then I can ever express, and I think about Lily and Maggie so often, and miss them so.  But I still have my Harry, and he is just the best.  The best friend, the best dog, the bestest of the bestest.  So for his birthday I brought him a quarter pounder with cheese.  Okay, I am not saying this is the healthiest food in the world.  But he has beat the odds still being alive today, and he loves quarter pounders with cheese more then anything else in the entire world.  Well, except maybe pizza, and milk bones and well, me. 

When we lived down south in Bokeelia Harry was a sort of celebrity.  We lived on a dead end road.  Houses on both side of the road, Barrancas with canals running parale to the road behind all the houses.  There were three swimming pools, and two boat ramps.  All of our neighbors.  And I mean 100%, loved Harry more then any other dog or creature they had ever met or known.  We had neighbors who would leave their garage door open part way so that Harry had access into their homes, through the mud room and the kitchen to the pool.  Not like he could not just walk down one of the boat ramps into the warm brackish canal water.  Well, okay he did that too.  Every day he would walk down the road and go to each house for a treat.  Then he would take a nap on one of the neighbors couch.  They kept a flannel table cloth on the couch so he did not ruin it. 

Harry was conceived with the assistance of a turkey baster.  Yep, his mother, Maggierose was a virgin when she conceived and gave birth to the eleven freakish giant puppies.  Harry weighed 18 ounces when he was born. 

So Maggie was two years old and we applied to all the best breeders in the area and were lucky enough to be accepted by a breeder in Naples.  We took Maggie the first time and when Breckins Excalibur of South Pine aka Elwood swaggered up to Maggie, she snapped at his face.  Kelly pulled Elwood, I grabbed Maggie.  Elwood was showing that weekend, and he did make grand champion at that show.  But of course if he had had a blemish on his beautiful square head, well, he would not have gotten grand champion.  So Kelly suggested that maybe we should do artificial insemination.  I jumped at the chance.  After all who wants to stand by and watch their "little girl" do it. 

Kelly got the equipment, which basically was a turkey baster, which I do not believe she used for basting turkeys.  well, I hope not anyway.  So she grabbed a hold of Elwood's, well you know and got the sample for Maggie.  I sat in a chair she had brought out and had Maggie's back legs up on my lap.  She was happy, she was getting lots of attention and scratches and loving, so she was just fine.  Then Kelly brought up the turkey baster and in a minute we were done.  Maggie never knew what happened.  No really, she did not know what was happening and let me tell you she was terribly surprised almost 60 days later when these freakishly giant things started popping out.  Larry was at school, so Kelly and I handled things by ourselves.  I put Maggie in the Saturn and drove the hour and half home.  Which worked out well, because Kelly told me not to let Maggie pee for at least an hour. 

The next week Larry, Maggie and I returned for the second go.  Larry had brought the camera to get photos of Elwood to show potential parents of what the father looked like.  So there were were, Larry with the camera, me in the chair with Maggie's back legs up on my lap and Kelly getting the specimen from Elwood.  Just about that time another couple came around the house.  They were interested in the car Kelly's husband had for sale in the front yard.  The three of us looked up and must have looked terribly guilty.  The other couple screamed and ran back around the house.  Kelly, yelled for her husband who ran after the couple to explain that we were not some sick group of lab porno photographers, but were actually breeding Maggie.  They came back and apologized for the confusion.  We were all uncomfortable.  Well, except for Maggie and Elwood.  Elwood had a big silly smile on his face and Maggie was getting lots of attention, so why should they be embarrassed.  Now that the deed was done we needed to get Maggie in the car before she could pee and we loose the sample.  The couple kept insisting to apologize and we kept insisting that we needed to go, and I was holding Maggie's back in like that would help.  Larry was trying to steer Maggie to the car, she needed to pee. 

Each day after that, Maggie got bigger and bigger.  She looked like a pregnant goat.  You know how they get those wide sides?  We have no doubt who the father was because Maggie would barely leave the house and when male dogs came sniffing around she would hide in the bath tub.  Plus most of the puppies got Elwood's droopy eyes and large square head.  Then February 14th, a Sunday, I went down to the park where we held the Music On Pine Island concerts.  I handled my responsibility which was to make sure that the musicians showed up, had everything they needed and received their checks.  I had a feeling that I needed to go home, so I left as soon as I had done my job and drove the few miles back home.  There I found Maggie pacing and nervous.  She looked at me like she had never been happier to see me and then immediately dropped a giant yellow male puppy.  Every hour or so she would birth another puppy.  Harry was the third born.  He was the only chocolate pup.  The next morning about 4am Lily was born.  Well, sort of.  She came out breech and by that point Maggie had birthed 10 puppies and more then 10 pounds of pups.  Her muscles had no more push.  Lily was not moving.  It took us 20 minutes, Maggie and I to birth that child and to get her to breath on her own. 

We had to hide Harry from the beginning.  Everyone wanted Harry.  The main reason we had bred Maggie was to have a chocolate male lab.  And we had one.  We had Harry.  And Lily, well, she was my ugly duckling.  You know, she thought she was a duck but she was actually a beautiful swan.  She had sky blue eyes until she was 6 months old.  We had to hide her also.  I had dreamed of Lily Magnolia the night before she was born.  I dreamed that she was the last puppy born.  She was breech and the size of a walnut.  Okay, in real life she was not the size of a walnut.  She weighed 16 ounces at birth.  Nice size puppy.  But as soon as I saw Lily's little back legs not moving, stuck in her mom, I remembered the dream and Maggie and I worked so hard to bring her into this world.  And she was mine.  Lily was mine.  Harry, well he belonged to everyone.  He was every one's favorite, even if they had their own pets, they all loved Harry. 

He would sit on the side of the road and then when people walked by, he would go out and graciously allow them to love him.  When he saw bicyclists he wait to just the right moment then he would step in front of the bike and the riders would go flying over the handlebars and skid across the road.  They would come up immediately and ask about Harry.  They were bleeding, he was fine.  he would again, graciously walk up to these people he had just thrown to the ground, well, with a little help from gravity and again allow them to adore him. 

Oh, there are so many many Harry stories.  He loves children.  He loves the smell of them.  He will walk up to babies and just sniff them all up.  Then of course his giant tongue would come out of his giant head and would lick the child from toe to the top of their head in one giant slurp.  And the children would giggle and laugh and grab a hold of his face and just pull on him and kiss him and he loved it.  I am not sure I would have been as happy as a parent to allow this huge giant mouth with teeth that close to my children, but we never met a child or parent who did not know that Harry was something special.

Yep, he is something special  and today is his 14th birthday.
So happy birthday my precious hairy little boy!
And Happy Valentine's Day everyone else.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oh no! Not the sillies not the crazies again!!

Sunday morning.  Cold, freezing cold, Sunday morning.  Go outside and the cold, a dry bright cold surrounds you and squeezes down on you like a python.  Last night as people were leaving the show, the cold blew in so violently swirling papers off the tables and causing people to pull their coats tighter under their chins.  Moaning out with disapproval.  As I ran from the theater to my car, I heard gasps and groans from people as the wind blew them down the sidewalks. 

Inside the theater it was warm.  Warm from the heater, but more from the love and connection of our audience.  The Moon's were all there.  Even May had gotten off from her job, although we missed Matthew.  Jason, Lily and the baby that is almost here were there.  Hank was there, so was Mr. Moon.  Jessie and Vergel were down from North Carolina.  How wonderful for our precious Ms Moon to have the love and adoration of her family. Hank said to me at Intermission that he thought this was the funniest play, that was acutally supposed to be funny his Mom had been in.  We have done some really bad scripts, oh, say, like Killing Mr. Withers it was sort of The Postman always Rings Twice and an Homage to Alfred Hitcock and his work, including the names of like 30 movie and TV titles and a bad Sci-Fi TV show with  the cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle characters using Russian accidents played by Ms Moon and Herb Rash.  It was hysterical, but that really had nothing, abosuletly nothing with what was funny about it.  We have to rewrite a lot of the muder mysteries we use.  But they give us a place to start and we have some amazing actors in our stage company, and with the smallest gesture, the simple cast of the eyes, a shrug of a shoulder, a terrible Russian accent, and we had some funny shows.  Laugh out loud funny shows.   

But how nerve wracking to have all your family there.  What about sitting in the front table, right under your nose, while you try to recited memorized lines and move and act, and not fall down!?!  Jan had asked me if we should put her family at the table right next to the stage where Ms Moon's office as Harriet is.  I said, "oh no!"  They had been placed at the table next to the set where most of Jon, as Leonard/ Lullabelle and Mary, as Harriet Copeland dialogue together takes place.  It is also where a stage kiss would be if there was one.  I said,"Oh No!"  I called Ms Moon and described the tables, and her quick response was "OH NO!"  So we moved them to what I consider the best seat in the house ,stage center, one table back.  There was plenty of room for Mr. Moon to stretch out his long strong legs.  There was plenty of room around the table for us to spoil them by giving them an extra salad, an extra basket of rolls.  Oh yeah!  We spare no expense to spoil this precious sweet family.  Just part of our extended Stage Company family.  Mr. Moon has worked on sets and has bar tended.  Jessie was in Ladies of the Garden Club with her mother.  It was both of their first shows at the Opera House.  Jessie has also been in other shows, but on the stage as one of the beautiful girls in the show girl costumes, and as one of the workers to make the New Year Eve's Party memorable.

But tonight was George, Jon, Mary and Tila's night.  Judy stage managed, Denise did costumes, props and the main lighting.  Jack and Jan were the Directors and Producers, I handled the spot and the sound effects.  But the five of us did not matter.  All of the wonderful Stage Company family who came to support the play by serving the dinner were there and we could not have done it without their generosity, but it was about the 4 actors.  

I was not feeling well.  Judy was barely hanging on.  Pat was not well enough to come.  I showed Rich how to do my job.  I then told Jack that I was not doing well.  He said, take Rich through the sound effects again.  I did.  He got it right away.  It is a little harder then it appears to get the timing right, and to keep from accidentally having a phone ring at the wrong moment.  And to get the volumes right.  Each sound effect has to be adjusted for the volume.  That is really the most complicated part.  Rich could handle it.  But I managed to hang in there.  I am not sure that maybe I should have gone ahead and let him do it.  It was not that I did that bad.  But there was one errant phone ring.  And I was late on one phone ring, okay, maybe two.  There aren't that many sound effects, so that is a pretty high problem ratio.  

The chemistry of these four people is amazing.  They all look like they really like each other, like they enjoy playing up on that stage together.  They are their characters and they shimmer and sparkle and glow and ham it up, and the audience appreciates it.  Here is a photo, courtesy of George (Grampie Gus) of our cast:
Jon, Mary, George and Tila
Friday's night show's audience was wonderful and they loved the show.  It is funny, it has a man dressing as a woman, for what ever reason that is always funny.  It has bad singing, puns, sarcasm, and a sweet precious happy ending.  I think that is what everyone loves the best.  The chemistry that makes this happy ending believable.  The acting is fun to watch, George steals the show with his laugh, his emotion, how his character is smart, funny and so not George.  And yet, so George.

Last night as so many of us were there together.  Our Rich, Marcy and Fred, Ron, and Carolyn.  Our Stage Company family who get no glory, get no applause, but were there supporting each other, loving each other, laughing and working and coming together like a family at the holidays.  Those not there were thought of and celebrated by our reminiscences.  

So this weekend was a success.  The cast were wonderful.  The audiences entertained and happy, Two shows down, Four more to go.  

Then I can focus on The Fantasticks.  And at the end of the month, Judy and I will have auditions for the murder mystery.  We are working on getting ready for that.  And my body is tired, emotional and erupting.  I have skin eruptions.  Red, sore, oozing eruptions.  On my face, in my nose, around my waist, in areas I choose not to reveal.  They are uncomfortable, and they ooze.  Oh yeah, very unattractive.  I have a a gel for the skin eruptions.  I sure wish there was a gel for my emotional eruptions.  I have the weepies, the needies, the I need a hug.  But I am too much.  Too much emotion, for myself, for those around me.  So my normal reaction once I figure out that I am loosing control of my emotions is to hide.  I need to hide.  

The skin eruptions are better controlled this morning.  Well, they are less painful anyway.  But my eyes and heart are leaking.  And I have this new feeling.  No, it is an old feeling.  It is  a feeling I always push down, shove away.  It is a feeling that something is changing in me  Not for the good.  I feel like I am loosing days.  I feel like the cancer has chiseled away through a few more cells.  I feel like the cancer is starting to get its own way again.  I have no proof of this.  It is just emotions.  just fear.  I am not used to fear.  Maybe I am trying to find an excuse for my behavior  I don't know.  I just know that I feel something that feels peaceful, except that I don't know that any of this is real.  And so I feel crazy at the same time.  I will go see Dr. M this next week, and if there is anything I need to know, he will tell me.  Maybe it  is just because I am tired.

I know that this is when people see a side of me that is hard to deal with.  Hard to manage.  Hard to live with.  I am so much.  So needy, so silly, so emotional.  This has been coming on for a few weeks now.  I have been trying so hard to avoid facing this.  The deep to the bone loneliness, the need to have someone wrap their arms around me and say, it is okay.  You are not too much.  You are not crazy.  You are not an horrible person.  

Oh this cycle of almost normal feeling, feeling good, feeling crazy, acting crazy.  Driving myself and those around me crazy.  The feeling of peace and loving acceptance and joy of what I have in my life all washed out and away from my heart as it leaks out the tired, the emotion, the consequences of a drug that keeps the cancer at bay.  For the time being.  It is times likes this, that I think, I have had enough.  I have had love, I have had adventure, I have had joy and challenges, wonder and magic.  I am ready.  Then I make plans and try to pull myself together.  I know it will pass.  It is a cycle.  I will be happy and strong and independent again.  I will celebrate more joy and love and life.  And then I will sit in this red chair again and weep and smear the gel on the skin eruptions and bend over from the stomach cramps and lay in bed vibrating with anxiety.  Then that will pass too, and I will sleep and I will be strong and the cycle will continue around and around we go. The ride of life, the journey.  The struggle, and the dance. 

Will I still be sitting here alone, well not alone.  I have my animals.  I have my Harry, my precious dear chocolate hairy old man.  He is great to wrap your arms around and push your face into his fur and breath in the smell of dog.  Of Harry.  And I have Bob.  We love each other as much as a dog and a woman a mere girl/woman can.  Each night I lay down in my bed and he lays his head on my shoulder and  we cuddle.  We cuddle as dog and person.  Not a person and person.  He is a dog, but he is mine.  I am his.  And that relationship is so special so tight so life saving.  So loneliness breaking.  My little boy.  My little center of the universe.  Yes, I do a lot of thinking when I am at this part of the cycle.  Appreciating more then normal what I have, missing with deeper emotion what I don't have.  The loneliness more acute.  The love of my animals, my children more special, more precious. 

It is supposed to warm later this week.  I have bought some pansies and petunias and maybe getting out in my yard and planting these will help.  Going to Zumba next Tuesday and moving for an hour.  That will help.  I will also get with Carolyn this week and see if we can plan a day to watch a movie together.  We both want to see Bridesmaids.  It is at redbox, maybe we can find time to watch it together.  To make time to start working on the Murder Mystery with Judy.  To go out to dinner with Denise and Judy.  Maybe have a visit with Other Bob.  Although, he has not known me long enough to want to deal with this insanity.  He is a nice man, but this is a lot for a friend who is passing through the area to have to deal with.  This might be why a virtual boyfriend could work the best.  They have the luxury of the distance to keep from being hit too hard with all the emotion, all the garbage, all the silliness.  And I am so happy to have someone like that in my life but it is not the same as having someone here to wrap their arms around me.  Holding my heart gently so that it doesn't break.  It is my heart.  It is me that is emotional, it is me that is needy.  it is me that is as fragile as a kitten......or newt, depending on how you read the line in the play.

Today is an off day.  Tomorrow I have rehearsal for The Fantasticks  I am excited to join the cast and crew.  To immerse myself in this other little family.  The Fantasticks family.  Where we will come together to dance across the Boards up in the theater.  To maybe do something right.  To feel successful.  To be a part of a group of people coming together, working together.  I have so much trouble these days playing by the rules.  But for right now, right here on this cold day, with Luna curled up on my lap.  With Edna at my feet.  With my bed just steps away where I can take a nap, snuggling down under the blankets, the goose.  Today, I am alone and lonely, and crazy, but I also know it will pass.  Just like the cold, it will pass and the earth will warm, and my heart will calm and my life journey will continue down this crooked road that normally I love.  And I will love it again, and love will fill my heart.  whether with a significant other or my friends or maybe my "kids".  

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Preview Show

Our dress rehearsals are used as a fund raiser for the local Altrusia Chapter here in Monticello. They are a great group to run our last rehearsal for, and still get to think of it as a rehearsal. It has also helped Altrusia to raise over the last 5 years approximately $15K for their scholarships and assistance to our community. Not bad. Not bad for a tiny rural community, pulling together. One group gets to try a few things  out on an audience before opening night and the other gets to raise money to return to our community. We get people who are there to support us and laugh and have a wonderful time. The cast and crew get to see where the laughs might be.

We had a lovely evening.  Some of the actors were not pleased with their performance last night, but I have to say, the audience loved them. They had no idea the lines were not said in order, or at all. After all they do not have a script in front of them, so how do they know what we get right or wrong. But the characters were there and shining bright. They were funny, they melded together beautifully, and the sound effects were on cue. Okay, I have to move where I start playing the concerto. I played it on cue last night but there was so much laughter and applause, that you could not hear it. I will move it up a half dozen lines or so and build it to the end so by the time the audience is clapping I can have the music loud enough to play over the joy of the precious ending.

Here are photos of my little tech stage and the set:

my tech stage
Where I work the spot light and the sound effects
Lenny's apartment

Harriet's office isn't Fabio fantastic, he can be yours.......if you win the raffle
Pat, Jan and I met this afternoon and set the tables.  George came in and set his table up with little heart shaped boxes of chocolates for the ladies in his party tonight.  He also put a sign on the table "Gus's Girls".  He plays the gram pa, Gus in the play.  He is so sweet and thoughtful, and always a pleasure to get to work with.

Then when I stopped at my mail box there was a package from my Dad. Inside was a valentine present from him.  I opened up the cardboard box to find a cigar box from our friend Luis Martinez Giraldo.  This is a box he gave dad last summer when we were in Spain.  It had some of Luis's personal cigars with his label.  The box, as you can see below is so beautiful with all the cigar art work.  Inside was a valentine wish written out, a bag of chocolates and a key ring.  The key ring has our Christmas slogan on it.  Nice key chain.  this may be the most special valentine I have ever received.   It made me so happy.

My valentine from my Dad
I have been so emotional lately.  Probably because I am tired.  Whatever it makes me appreciate happiness more.  So I think that I will go lay down for an hour.  I can take a little nap and be ready for tonight.

A special moment today with Edna.  She was just sweet.  Well behaved precious, sweet, loving.  I think she is starting to grow up.  I think part of it is having Other Bob interact with her.  Just having friends come over and spend time here gives the dogs another person to be around.  It changes the dynamics from person against dog.  To pack mentality and that is a place that Edna understands better.   I said, "Stay, good girl" and she sat down and stayed.  That is huge for her.  Huge.  And I rewarded her with lots of hugs and loving. 

A good day. Tonight we will open the show.  Dress rehearsals are done.  Practice is over.  This is for real tonight.  We are ready.  Life is good.  The show is precious.  I got all of my valentine's in the mail today so I feel very accomplished.  I feel loved with my first valentine for the year.  I do not expect any others.  I didn't expect this one.  Such a lovely sweet precious gift.  I hope that people get a kick out of my little valentine's.  And next week, on Tuesday Valentine's Day will be Harry's 14th birthday.  How special.  I never ever dreamed I would be gifted enough to still have him in my life.  My old man.   My sweet old hairy man.  My little hairy boy.  My giant chocolate baby.  Yep, my heart and eyes are leaking a little today.  Just like the sky.  Not big heavy moisture, just a little precious leaking.  See you at the theater tonight.  I will be the one behind the spot.  The one lighting the actors lives and ringing their bells.  that is what George told me I do for them.  I like that even if he is talking about my tech work.  That is what I do and that makes me happy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

So much to say

There is just so much life.  Or my favorite quote from Lily, "There is too much nature out here"  only in this case, it is too much life.  And lots of emotions.

January 31 2012 would have been my doody headed (thank you Ms Moon, perfect saying)husband's and my 26th wedding anniversary.  February 2nd (yes, ground hog day) he would have been 61.  When I woke each of those days I knew what day it was, but seemed fine.  It is not that we were happily ever after, but this is the first time those anniversaries of marriage and of life were missed.  Even with as big of a mess we were in we still always spoke to each other on those days.  Until this year.  He is gone now.  And there is a peace and serenity in that knowledge.  For so many reasons, especially because his struggles are over.  He was a struggler.  And he reveled in all the struggles he surrounded himself.  And this year, no struggles.  Just peace.  Just memories.  Memories of my life.  Our life for many years.  And separate already for many years.

Maybe that is why I am still so touched by a sadness I witnessed Monday.  Other Bob and I were driving back from washing the toy when we both saw, or maybe we felt it or maybe smelled it.  I am not sure.  On the side of the road in front of the new pecan stand was the man who lives there.  The one that used to work at Winn Dixie.  Now he has the pecan stand and sells all kinds of local produce, honey and pecans.  He has two black dogs.  Good, well behaved, sweet dogs.  But on Monday he was on his knees, one of the dogs head laid in his lap.  still.  very still.  The sorrow, the anguish, the sadness, the utter despair this man felt for this loss lifted unseen through the air swirling with the energy of the sheer emotion.  Other Bob and I  both felt the loss and the overwhelming emotion coming from the man.  Behind him maybe 10 feet was an older gentleman.  Still.  Frozen.  witness to this loss.  over whelmed and yet there.  Standing back, holding the other dog.  The dog staring at the man and the still dog.  He too was strangely still and frozen as if not a part of the scene in front of him.  Maybe they were too close.  I still fell an over whelming sadness close on my heart and think of the man and the man watching and the dog watching and the other dog.  lying very still.

I am also very tired and so a little more emotional.  I have had a hard time getting to sleep.  Getting my mind to relax.  To unwind and slow down.  The preview show is tomorrow and the rehearsals have been charged with anxiety, joy, playfulness, forgetfulness and phones going off at the wrong time or not going off at the right time.  Monday's rehearsal pulled together and was magical.  We had a show.  Tuesday was even better when it came to the characters personalities coming out.  But as often happens following a great rehearsal, this one was not as good on the lines.  And I was certainly no better on the lights and phones.  Sometimes it would ring when they were dialing.  Or they would dial and put the phone up to their ear and it would continue to ring.  I was trying out everything.  Looking for the best way to start the music on time.  developing the precision needed for the show.  By the end of the show I was able to watch the actors more and the computer less.  The lights are going pretty well.  They are fine actually, but I can still improve there, and plan to. 

But by the time I get home and then talk to Dad.  Oh, and maybe fix something to eat, it is late and I can not sleep.  This play is on my mind.  My Dad is on my mind.  My health is on my mind.  How happy I am in so many ways right now.  The same place I have been for a while, but right now, well, I guess I am just stopping to enjoy what I have.  And I have The Fantasticks on my mine and I am getting anxious to join the play, the rehearsals, the work, the experience of that production.  An opportunity that I never dreamed possible. 

I also have the Murder Mystery on my mind.  Auditions are the end of this month.  Then spring will be turning into summer.  I will have time with Christopher, and Dad and I are planning a vacation.  Something special.  Something that I know will make it him happy.

I am in a good place with friends.  I still miss work Bob and Spat in Weeki Wachi, and need to call them.  Yes, and I need to send a happy birthday to Wayne and Billy.  There birthdays were the first of February also.

Yesterday I drove into Tallahassee and took my friend Phyllis to lunch.  She just had a giant tumor removed from her tiny little precious elf like person.  She is barely 5 foot tall, but a wonderful and precious friend.  She has been having little things happen for a while physically.  Maybe going back 10 years.  And she is recovering beautifully from the surgery and hopefully this next week the doctor will give her lots of good news.  She looks wonderful, only, well, only smaller.  I mean she has always be "fun size" as a shirt she has worn states.  But now she has lost significant weight and how much of that was the tumor and how much will come back with her strength and stamina we will see.  But it was so nice to get to spend a little time with her. 

Then I drove over to the Sprint store to get my cell phone fixed.  I could not answer it.  I could reject calls 7 different ways, but I could not figure out how to answer it.  A very nice man, then a lovely young woman came up and between the two of them I can answer calls and receive email again on my cell phone.  Wow!  After getting used to always being in touch it was hard those first few days I was out of contact.  I had almost recovered.  But I noticed today I was already getting back to checking it several times through the day. 

Now with my phone working.  I drove over to the Social Security office.  I had all of my paperwork gathered up.  My medical records, my W-2 form, signed this form, signed and had another witnessed.  A folder stuffed full of papers I was not sure what I was supposed to be doing with it.  So I thought I will go and make an appointment and then I will have to finish this thing once and for all.  I was surprised how quiet and orderly the office was.  I waited less then 20 minutes as was stated on my number.  I handed my folder over to a man and he asked me questions, then looked at me confused.  I returned the look and then he got up and walked away.  He came back and instructed me to go through the door and take my paperwork to window 6.  He was window 2 in the outside room.  I walked through the door and down the long hallway, windows on one side, cubicles on the other with Plexiglas between the social security agent and the person with their number. 

I sat down at the cubicle identified as 6.  It was around the corner and there was no protection between my agent and myself.  She looked at me confused.  Then tried to open my file in her computer.  She could not get it.  She looked even more confused and then she left and when she came back she asked me why I had not come in sooner.  I said I was not aware I was expected.  She showed me on one correspondence where it instructed me to bring the things on the cover sheet into the office.  I had looked at the cover sheet and saw all the things I was supposed to get and had been working on that.  I did not realize that I was suppose to come in within so many days regardless of what I had or not.  Oops.  I am not so clear on instructions these days.  Then she got in my file and started apologizing.  I have no idea for what.  I have no idea what I was supposed to have done or what she was supposed to have done.  I just had a folder full of papers.  About 100 pages of medical records, financial records and well, I have no idea what else.  She started explaining that I qualified for widows benefits from Larry.  Okay.   She explained how she was sending things in, where one would kick in and then mine would start after a certain time period and she talked and I think thought I was going to tell her what I wanted to do.  I told her, that she knew more then I did, and what did she recommend.  She talked a long time again.  Everything seemed quite sensible, and I had no idea what she was saying.  But finally I got the look I had been waiting for.  The one where she would look at me expectantly and I would smile and thank her for everything and yes, I appreciated everything she did.  Which is all true.  Because all I know is that I would like to get a tiny portion back for a statistically short time frame for all that I put in all those years working very hard and trying to make a difference for the better.  Now, please could I get a little, just a little back so I can pay for my insurances, and my prescriptions?  I can take care of the rest.  But those two areas, are my biggest outlay.  She explained that because the system had failed me, she would put a rush on my case, and went on to explain time frames, etc.  I thanked her again and said what would be the most helpful would be if they could finally state that I was disabled (I really hate that idea) so that I would not have to pay the giant penalties for using my retirement income because I had retired early because of cancer.  She looked at me directly in my face and said she would do her best for me.  I know she meant it and even if I am not completely sure what all we are doing, I still appreciate her care and concern and how professional and kind she was. 

I left there and went to Zumba class.  From Zumba I went to rehearsal.  Then home around 10, a call to Dad and I could not sleep until after midnight.

Today I drove up to Thomasville to meet with Dr. C to talk about my hepatitis C and what we can and should do about it.  I do not want to get sick.  Dr. C assured me this treatment would make me sick.  But first they had to take 10 tubes of blood to help figure out what possibilities I have.  From there I headed to the Opera House and actually made some accomplishments.  I got half of the membership letters ready.  Lisa asked me if I could come in tomorrow to finish them and get them to the post office before it closes at noon.  I said I could and then I would head back up to Thomasville to give more blood.  This lab work for Dr. M. 

I worked until 4:30 on the letters and then I raced home in the toy, changed into my Zumba clothes grabbed a dozen fresh chicken eggs from the girls and hopped back in the toy.  I drove up to the Boy Scout hall and got there early enough to sit in the hall freezing with some of the other students and get to know some of my class mates a little better.  They are a close group of friends.  Very supportive of each other.  There are some woman who come as a group of two or three, but the classes really feel like we are all in this together.  For the most part these woman are in good shape.  And I don't know what happened tonight but it all clicked.  I think the songs were easier, but for almost the entire hour we worked as a unit.  Even Carolyn and I were moving in sync with the others.  Each with their own style.  Some look like they are dancing, others look more like they are exercising.  All levels of ability are in there, and each person seems to have a step that they excel at.  Tonight one of the older Black woman got down.  I mean she GOT DOWN.  Our attention was grabbed by her friend whooping it up.  As we continued to dance and wiggle, shake, gyrate, ungulate, skip, hop, step, stamp, run, stretch, and in my case stammer along we watched this woman, older then myself, but not by much, gyrate like a 20 year old.  We were do squats, and she got so low and could gyrate up and down and smiled big.  Everyone in that room looked at her with joy and amazement.  Everyone looked at what she could do.  Something no one else in the room could do.  And we whooped and cheered and clapped and she rewarded us with an even more outrageous show, and then the moment was over and the steps moved on, and we all turned back to the leader and off we went to the next dance.  Tonight the sounds of the steps was like listening to Gregory Hines times 20 tapping.  The shuffling noise made as our hands slap across our thighs, clean like a brush on a fine snare drum.  The claps, the chants, and cheers and arms moved in unison.  Some hop, some step, others jump, and some barely move.  But move we each do and by the end of the hour we are smiling.  We feel good for that hour of movement.  For taking the time to drive there, or run there, and to move for that hour.  Not alone with a computer or a TV screen.  An hour of movement, of dance, of a prayer between 20 women or more as we celebrated our bodies and what they can do.  I see how this zumba thing is so popular.  Even someone as uncoordinated and catch footed as I am, can do this.  That some time each session each of us will feel good, feel successful for what we just did.  Maybe it is just making an hour with these woman sweating and supporting each other.  That seems like such a blessing.  Like seeing a new year's resolution come alive.  to accomplish something, while doing something that is fun and enjoyable, with woman who are 100% totally supportive.  Wow!  I had no idea that this possibility even existed.  I am sure glad that Carolyn shared this with me.  She is good about sharing fun things with her friends.  I really appreciate that.  I also appreciate that we are there together.  Supporting each other to be there.  Supporting each other to keep moving.  My goal is to attend at least one class a week.  So far we have been able to attend 2 classes each week.  And at home I am adding more dancing in with my yoga and walking and getting out of that red chair.

Yes, I am wearing myself out emotionally with all of my commitments.  Yes, I am wearing myself out physically with long hours and doing lots of things.  But I also spend a lot of time in this red chair.  Laying down a witness to my life.   Participating in a life and then sitting down in my red chair and remembering some of the moments, some of the emotions, some of the joys and challenges of a life, as if witnessing it.  After witnessing so much death this past year, it seems only right that this year I should witness life.  My life.  To say once again that cancer has given me so much. Not just nodules like tumors (get it gave me so much, okay, not really funny) but the opportunity to be a part of Jeff Pearlman's Quaz.  The opportunity to have been the featured artist on the cover of the TLT Art Section of the Tallahassee Democrat.  Things that I think cancer opened the possibilities for.  Joing HOPE which showed me what exercise could do for me.  Time spent with my nephew.  The people in my life right now.  The possibility to get to share my story of my family with my father's cousin's great grand daughter and her 8 year old daughter, Ellie.  A story that goes back to my father's mother and Jamie's Great great grand mother.  And I have known all of these woman.  Now I will know Ellie. To give to these young woman who are part of me, of my family, of my story, just because they are think I am special.  And they think that because Jamie's mother, Lori, who is my very precious cousin how many times and removed, whatever, showed Jamie the article by Jeff.  And Jeff wrote an article about me because of this blog.  And this blog helps me to store my memories.  To make witness to my own life.  To release the anxiety of commitments, to release the sorrow witnessed, to celebrate the joy, to write of the inane, the everyday.  To make a record for myself and those precious people who come and pull up a rocker on my porch.  To be rewarded with comments.  Comments I cherish, but rarely answer.  Shy to speak back.  Humbled that each life is as amazing and special as mine, but I am honored to be able to write mine down.  There are so many blogs out there.  Journals or novels or thoughts, or addictions or just ether.  I don't know.  So many of us.  And all of these moments shared and written down.  Like a giant battery of experience.  I wonder when someone will realize that all of these thoughts and words and ideas and letters placed next to each other is energy that can be harnessed.  Wouldn't that be amazing.  Just another possibility.  With all the words I use, I might be able to provide enough energy to run my refrigerator.  I like that idea.  Refrigerators are a good thing.

There is so much still to say.  About people in my life.  People that make me smile, and then take that smile from my lips to my eyes.  And sometimes my eyes leak with the joy of it.  Sometimes my eyes leak with the sadness, and sometimes just leak with the sheer overwhelmingness of life.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Working at the Opera House

Working at the Opera House. That is what I have been up to lately.  Working on the set for Nobody's Perfect.  Cast, crew, spouses and friends have come in and started working on the set.  I received an email today saying that it was 99% completed.  I worked most of the day on Friday and part of the day on Saturday painting, carrying, moving, measuring, holding, and stapling.  The set was built from the floor up.  This is a dinner theater show so that means that we take an empty hall, bring in old laminated posters and stack cement blocks on them.  Then after we get the blocks stacked up then we bring in wooden flats and stack them on top of the blocks.  From there we build panels that can be attached to each other and attached to the "stage".   The panels have windows or doors or archways.  We still have to build a couple each show, but we try and build the panels securely and then temporarily attach them together to form the set and so that they can easily be taken a part when the show is over.  The panels are memories of previous shows with yellow walls from Sex Please, gray from Curse of Nergal, pepto bismol colored from Steele Magnolia's and others from productions that we are not sure about, but once painted with the beautiful sky blue or the watermelon red/pink or gray color they become the panels from Nobody's Perfect.  The other shows disappearing back into our memories as the walls become a new set, a new home or office or bed and breakfast. 

This set is located in California.  The murder mystery set in May will take place in a bar on a space station in another quadrant, in another time.  That is one of the most amazing parts of being in a play, is being transported from this space and time to anywhere and anytime.  Our imaginations brought alive with wood and nails and paint.  A couch here, a table there round out the set.  Again, a lot of the furniture appears over and over in our shows, looking different based on the paint, the story and the accessories.  It is a lot of work, but with everyone pulling together, the play starts to take form and gives the actors a place to bring their characters alive. 

And these actors will have all of two rehearsals to practice on this stage.  That is not very long.  That is a truly a hardship on our actors to now have to pull back or stretch out to fit the stage.  We tape the floor and the furniture has been in the taped stage for a while.  But it is not the same as the actual stage.  And this cast has not worked with the light cues or the sound cues.  That is a huge deal.  Some of Ms Moon's cues are based on these, so she will have two rehearsals to learn these cues as they will sound or feel or look like the nights of the performances.  But it also means that Ms Denise and myself who will be working the lights and sound effects also with only have two days to rehearse with our work.  Yikes.  This is why I wear black when I am working sound or lights.  The black tends to make me disappear into the background.  It is not like my face is on the stage.  No I will be behind the spot light so even if the audience were to look back at me, they could not see me with the bright white light shining in their eyes. 

The Directors had first wanted to use the small spot light.  It is much easier to move down from the balcony of the upstairs theater.  Down the old wooden stairs coming down from the balcony worn and slick from age.  Across the theater to the elevator and then the ride down in the slow and unpredictable elevator (which is certified, but it still makes me nervous).  Then to carry the giant spot light across the down stairs and get it up and placed where we can use it over the heads of the audience.  But the small spot light has no on/off switch, it does not make a nice white round spot light, but instead these weird angles and a less then white light.  But mostly it gets HOT.  And I have to turn it from one direction to the other, quickly with one hand holding a folder in front of the light because I can not unplug, move and plug back in quick enough.  So I would burn myself as I attempted to move and watch my script and work the sound effects.  I am not sure I will be able to do it all as well as the Directors are going to need.  So we will work together tonight to figure out what to do. 

So that was the big part of my life from Thursday night rehearsal until Saturday afternoon.  After I had finished painting the last wall blue, I raced home and finished straightening up the house and making some vegan dishes for the monthly vegan mediation get together.  This was my first night hosting.  I was not sure what all I should make.  I was not sure what others might be bringing.  So I made some Quinoa, a mixed green salad, brownie cookies, high fiber blue berry muffins, veggie relish, and seven layer dip with chip and crackers.  Others brought sweet delicacies and as always the table groaned under the weight of the food. 

Everyone got to my house about 6:00 pm.  I had not had time to shower and change before they came, but the house was clean, the food was made and I just joined everyone in the living room where we talked and meditated and spent precious time together.  Carolyn has started coming with me to these dinners and is blending in beautifully with this small precious group of friends.  Another new lady joined us this month.  Linda who lives between Waukeenah, Lloyd, Waccissa and a couple of other small places I did not know the names.  She is a lovely person and it was nice to have another friend to meet and join us.  We ate heartily and lauhged freely.  When it was time to go, we hugged deeply and waved good bye to each other, knowing that we will get together again next month, and how sweet and precious these woman are to me.  It is not always just woman.  Sometimes we have men who attend.  We welcome everyone who would like to get together once a month, near the full moon, to meditate and breathe and think positive thoughts, and enjoy the company of people very different, and yet so very much a like. 

I was still wound up after the ladies had left and it took quite a while for me to fall asleep.  Sunday I woke tired from the previous few days, fed the animals, picked up a few things and then sat down considering a nap.  Mid afternoon Other Bob called and said he was on his way over to watch the football game with me.  I did a little more pick up.  Leave the dogs alone for an hour, and I have to sweep and mop the kitchen and vacuum the living room.  I jumped in the shower and by the time he had made the drive over I was tired, but ready to visit with friends again.  I had put together some guacamole with salsa and chips; I still had some of the brownie cookies left from the night before.  I had fruit and chocolates and shrimp.  Other Bob brought fish to cook, I had a piece of steak for him.  He also brought wine with cheese and crackers and we settled down and watched golf flipping back and forth between the Superbowl pre-game show and the golf tornament. 

We picked at the food and never cooked the fish or steak or any real food, just game food.  We watched the game and then the half time show.  It was okay.  I don't know maybe the teams were too closely matched.  It just did not seem to have the excitement several of the play off games seemed to generate.  Madonna was good, she looked beautiful.  She is one of those woman who has gotten more beautiful as she ages.  And I appreciate that her show was more family oriented, but it was a little boring.  Well, compared to past superbowl half times.  But the hoo rah is done, over, the giants won, just in case you hadn't heard. 

Today we worked on my cars. I appreciate the help. Here are a couple of photos that Other Bob took the day we went for a ride on his soft tail:

Me and Other Bob's Harley

In my Red high top Converse Allstars
Then I worked on setting up the sound effects.  I have done this numerous times.......but it has been a while and it took me hours to set up 4 sound effects.   But I eventually got it done, opened and closed it a dozen times so I could remember where I put it, so when I got to rehearsal tonight I could open it up quickly and easily.  I got to rehearsal a little early so I could get set, and shoot, I could not remember where I put it.  sigh.  But I eventually found it.  It is in a logical and eay spot to find.  Well, if I can remember, that is. 

Rehearsal went amazing.  With the set mostly completed and having taken a few days off, the cast came in loaded for elephants.  They were funny.  They were amazing.  We have a show!!!  I mean a good show.  Funny how that happens sometimes.  Tomorrow we will finish polishing and punching things up.  Another rehearsal with sound and lights and I have to say the people who will get to see this show for the dress rehearsal that we Altrusia uses as a fund raiser, they are going to see a wonderful, funny, precious show.  And Mary is just wonderful.  Jon, well he always amazes me.  And he slips in and out of Leonard and Lullabelle, from men's clothing into women's clothing (and I am not giving away any secrets here) with the ease of a seasoned actor, which he is.  George is really honing in on Grampy and I have no doubt that by Thursday he will come close to steeling the show.  And Tila, she will steal the show.  She is young, but she is just perfect in this part.  And so precious opposite of Mary.  You can see the maid and the crone, the mature and the young, the seasoned actor and the ingenue.  And it works.  Mary is beautiful, and this new young lady adorable.  These two woman have built a friendship and it shows in the characters.  There is a true warmth and, well, they just look like they like each other.  And it is real.  How fortunate for this new young actor to get to work with these other three.  And to get to work with the best prop/costume Manager Denise.  And I am not forgetting the best stage manager I have ever worked with, Judy.  And of course, it is always fun to work with Jack and Jan.  So we are a small, tough, but very happy little group of community theater "artist" tonight.  I am so amazed at how this show just pulled together and is already shining.  Tell your neighbors and your friends.  This is dinner theater that is fun, good food and the benefit of a small town.  What more could you want? 

And to all of my friends, like Jan in Wakulla, Bob at work, and well, the rest of you know who you are.  I miss you, and I am sorry I am not being a better friend and calling and coming over to visit.  You know how I fall in this hole of time sucking fake believe worlds at the Opera House.  And how much I love it there.  But I do love you all dearly, and miss you.  Call me!  Tomorrow I will get to see Phyllis for lunch.  After they took out that giant tumor she has lost like 18 pounds.  Yep, that thing was growing and growing for years and now it is gone.  She will go to Moffitt again in a week or so, and they will let her know what comes next.  She sounds great.  I will then also go over to Sprint and see if I can get my cell phone fixed.  I can not get my email on my phone.  And I can not answer my phone.  It goes directly to messages.  And the worst part is it tells me it is going to message, and I can not answer the calls.  Isn't it frustating when our electronic world does not work the way we desire?!!  I will get to see Rich on Saturday nights as he is helping to wait tables with me and the rest of the volunteers.  But I really need to find a way to fit into Bob at work's schedule.  I miss him. 

Life is busy.  It is late.  I just got done talking to dad, and now it is midnight and I have to go to bed.  I am tired.  But I am excited for the show.  It is going to be a lot of fun.  Just wait until these actors have an audience sitting in the dark, faces turned up to the stage, a smile on their lips a laugh on their tongue, a sparkle in their eyes.  And yes, the actors, directors and crew will be smiling and sparkling and sharing and fake believe will transport us all to Love is all Around.  Hope to see you there.