Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cyber Lovin' ... Had Me a Blast

First things first: Monday Missions. I was too sick over the weekend to think up a list for the February Missions, but fear not. Here they are:

2/4 Off for Mardi Gras. No mission this week.
OK, OK, I know you all don't celebrate Mardi Gras (but you should!) Really, I'm taking the day off because I will be flying to California this day (and theives... don't get any bright ideas. My home is guarded by an attack cat). So relax. Write whatever you want, and we'll see you back for the next Monday.

2/11 Promotion Recommendation
(In this post by the lovely Jen from Get in the Car writes: "In the Air Force, officers are expected to write their own OPRs for their commander to sign off on. An OPR is a progress report that evaluates how you are doing and whether you should be considered for promotion.") So write your recommendation for a promotion. Go ahead. Toot your own horn.

2/18 Homage to another blogger.
Write a post in the style of another blogger. This is in honor of the other person, so be nice, but have fun!

2/25 Award acceptance speech
Oscar or anything else. Will you be humble or boastful? Who will you thank? Who will you forget to thank? Will the music cut you off?

(little aside to LaskiGal - thanks for delurking. your webpage isn't linked from your profile page, so I can't come visit you. Help!)

OK. Now, on to the awards (apparently I need to write my own acceptance speech right now). Perhaps you all knew I was about to get hit with the plague, and wanted to bolster me up, but last week it seemed to be raining awards. I tried to keep track of them all, and now I'm going to say thanks and try to pass them along, like the good little blogger that I am.

CandyGirl (who flies!) from I Can Fly, Just Not Up! awarded me with a Daily Dose, saying "PM, at "Painted Maypole", who "gets" all my theatrical silliness, and shares the details of her life and work with me..." Shucks. CGF is a fellow theatre geek, and I love the video clips she puts up. And her stories of her Wee Three Girlies.

I'm going to pass this on to my real life friend over at On Dragonfly Wings who provides me with a daily dose of The Little Mister... since I am too far away to actually shower him with love. I'm so glad you started blogging.

From the lovely bipolarlawyercook I received this doozy of an award: calling me a "Down to Earth Drama Mama." Thanks. I try to keep my feet on the ground while I reach for the stars. He he. To pass this one on....I'm going to give it to Kyla who has Mad Skillz keeping her sanity as a parent of a child who needs a lot of extra attention, and then going back to college on top of it. Way better skillz then any balancing of cans on a forehead, although that may come in handy at all the frat parties she'll be attending now that she is a coed. Oh. And she's got pretty good skillz with that new camera she got for Christmas!

From Tracey at Just another mommy blog and the crazy gal RimaRama I received this:

I'm trying not be disappointed, because I thought for sure that my blog would get a triple X rating, but since I didn't get that, Excellent is pretty good. Seriously, thanks, ya'll. But how do I pass this on? All the blogs I read are excellent, of course. I will give it to Catherine at Everyday Life as Lyric Poetry for, in addition to everyday excellence, her excellent series on world religions, which has been so thought provoking and world expanding for me.

And finally, I received a big bloggy kiss

from Jen at A2eatwrite and Ewe at Wherever Ewe Go, There Ewe Are. I'm going to send this bloggy kiss on to Joy, who tells us she is going through a rough time these days, and could perhaps use a little cyber lovin' to cheer her up (and not in a pornographic way, 'K?)

Whew. Wow. That was a lot of awards. Which means I was richly loved by so many of you last week, when I was feverish and achy and miserable, and I thank you for that, very much. You like me, you really like me! Now... go spread the the cyber love.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rock On

Because I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, I decided to make some more album covers. It was so much fun last time, plus it gave me a great excuse to look at all the cute pictures from when May Queen was a wee girl. So here are my proposals for new covers for albums in my collection:

(That's me on the far right... in the plaid apron. Alas, no dancing with a bottle on my head for me. The boys get to have all the fun. And no, the bottles are not attached. They are all balancing them in their hats. Apparently during the show I missed a bottle fell into the orchestra pit. Good thing they're plastic.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Girls Night, Interrupted

I was really looking forward to last night's girls night. Because it wasn't just any girls night. It was to be a night out with Julie and Kyla. I've been enjoying their blogs for a while now, and looked forward to getting to know the women behind the words. I longed to hear their laughter and their voices and their stories... particularly after a few drinks. I wanted to cheer Julie up after a weekend of solo parenting, and take Kyla's mind off of Kaytar's eating issues. I knew it would be a lovely end to a day spent with The May Queen doing touristy things while The Big Guy attended a conference. We were going to tag along to this conference so that we could play hooky a few days... swim in the hotel pool, check out the local kid friendly sites, etc. When I discovered that Julie and Kyla were nearby, it was icing on the cake.

But alas, it was not meant to be. On Saturday, the day before we were scheduled to leave, my husband was still shivering with a fever. I was still coughing up a lung. Reluctantly we cancelled the trip.

And, I must say, it was a wise choice. I spent all day Monday sleeping. The Big Guy has taken both days off of work as he tries to recover from the flu that never ends. The good thing is that since we had intended to be out of town we have nothing scheduled for these days, and can take the time to sleep all day and curl up on the couch to watch movies (on our new DVR!). And I'm even getting a wee bit of scrapbooking done. Through this haze of tiredness and no energy.

So Julie and Kyla, I'm sorry I missed you. But I'm not very good company right now, anyways. Just ask the May Queen. I don't even have enough voice to read the poor kid a bedtime story.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

When Mommy Is Sick

This bedtime story was brought to you by Monday Mission Publications. If you have a children's book or poem that you would like to submit to Monday Mission Publications, please place your link in the widget below. (and please, please, only links to posts that are doing the children's story or poem Monday Mission. Other friends, just leave me a comment. thanks)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Forging ahead

I did the show tonight. I did pretty well, except for the singing bit. Ack. I have a brief solo in one of the songs, maybe 8 measures or so. I think a frog could have sung it better than I did this evening. People were lovely, saying things like "oh, you sounded fine" and "i didn't notice." They lie. Clearly. I try not to be a person who speaks ill of myself to get others to compliment me, and I try to take a compliment gracefully, but when I just barely manage to croak the words out, and some of them clearly were not on the right note, well... you can tell me the truth. It was rough. But then I have to remember... it was 8 measures. In a song nobody really cares about anyways. It's not what the audience is going to remember.

Although, as I said to the fabulous gentlemen who plays my husband "Alas. I know Hal Prince is out there tonight and he was all set to give me a role on Broadway, but then he heard me sing and said "forget her!""

Perspective is a lovely thing. I worried about that piece all night, and now it is over, and no one cares about how those few measures went but me.

Tomorrow is our last show. Hopefully my voice will be a bit better. And I remember. This coughing like crazy thing? It's how the soprano in my opera lost her voice. But I don't think they're going to fly a replacement in from Spain for me.

Monday's mission is to write a post in the style of a children's story or poem.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Plague on My House

Today marks a first for me: the first time I ever missed a performance due to an illness.

I've performed with all manner of sniffles and coughs and low fevers and migraines (which I really don't recommend. The second the show was over I crawled into a corner backstage and pulled a coat up over my head). But this 102.6 fever, can't get out of bed, coughing up a lung thing? I had to call in sick.

I started feeling a bit under the weather Tuesday night, but forged ahead and did the performance for school kids on Wed. And what a performance it was! Yikes! We had to cut over an hour from the show, some of it cut on the fly in the middle of scenes, bells rang during the show, the fiddler ran into someone backstage and ended up with a bloody nose... I had some chest congestion and a wee bit of a cough, but I did OK. That night I went to practice with my praise band at church. That was probably pushing it a bit, but I never call in sick. I am a gal who forges ahead.

The next day I woke up and drove The May Queen to school. Then I returned home and crawled into bed. I didn't move until 2:30, when I had to go to the bathroom so badly I couldn't ignore it. So I did, had a brief bite to eat, and crawled back into bed until 6:30, when I had to get up and watch The May Queen and put her to bed at 7:30 while The Big Guy attended a meeting. At 8:30 the fever broke a bit and I managed to eat some leftover pizza and read some blogs, and was back in bed by about 10.

Today has been better. I managed to focus long enough to watch a movie. Make a phone call. But I can feel myself sliding back down into the rabbit hole. So it is back to bed for me.

Oh. And The Big Guy is sick, too. He's a day or two ahead of me in all this, so slightly better, but not much. We are a sad, sad pair. The May Queen is her usual energetic self. Shoot us now.

(oh, and I guess I should have expected this. Yesterday I had planned to spend the whole day scrapbooking. Why on earth did I think that would happen?)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Freigraf holding auditions for unusual musicians

I've been tagged by the lovely wooly gal over at Wherever Ewe Go, There Ewe Are for the album cover meme. Which is quite fun. Follow these rules to create your own album cover:

The first title on the page is the name of your band.

The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.

3. Finally, click on this link:
The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover. You then take the pic and add your band name and the album title to it, then post your picture.

I think my band is destined for stardom, and way better than the band "syke" that I dreamed of forming when I was a child. Here is our album:

Freigraf is currently holding auditions. As this band and album are by-products of other activities (like blogging) it seems only fitting that I audition you, my fellow bloggers. The hook of the band, of course, is that we make music out of non-musical things (by-products of other activities... get it??). So if you have a talent for making your keyboard sing or your mighty winds blow or any other sound that may fit in to this eclectic album of cover songs (ranging from musical theatre to hard rock) please leave me a comment, and I'll contact you for an audition.

And I think I may just have a knack for this designing covers thing, so I decided it would be fun to look at some of the CDs in my collection, and propose some updated covers for them. What do you think?

(steal this meme! I'd love to see what albums you come up with!)

Monday, January 21, 2008

under the wire Monday Mission

The following are the nominations for BEST WAY TO SPEND A DAY WITH NO WHERE TO BE (particularly when it's been months since you've had one):
- Sleeping In
- Never getting out of your pajamas
- Making chocolate chip cookies
- Reading with a cat in your lap
- Playing whatever your daughter asks you to play (even if it is Webkinz)
- Not monitoring any one's TV time
- Getting things done you've been putting off for far too long
- Reading blogs
- Cuddling in bed with your daughter in the middle of the afternoon, at her request
- Finally coming up with a post for your own stinking Monday Mission

(see post below for other Monday Mission submissions. Next week your mission is to write a post in the style of a children's poem or book)

added on tuesday: This mission was in honor of the Oscar nominations, which were announced this morning. There was a time when I would have seen just about every movie nominated in every category, except perhaps the shorts and a few of the foreign films. I just looked over the whole list of nominees, and have seen TWO, a mere, measely TWO, of the movies on the list: No Country for Old Men and Sicko (both excellent). Oh how I long for the theatres around here to show movies in the late morning, so I can catch them before MQ gets out of school.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Brain on strike

Apparently my brain is standing in solidarity with the writer's strike, because I have nothing to offer in the way of this Monday's Mission, which is to write a post in style of award nominations. I know it's only Sunday, but I try to post mine on Sunday to get the ball rolling and to provide you a place to put your links. So there is hope of my brain strike ending by the end of the day Monday, and if that happens, I will be sure to post the results. So please, there's no picket line to cross here, write your own Monday Mission post and inspire me, will ya? Or maybe a good night's sleep will do it.

(by the way, the show went fairly well this weekend, and Friday night I found that a late evening at a Martini bar with some fabulous new friends from the show was just the thing to cure my ills. MQ woke up feeling better the next day, and all is well. thanks for all your lovely and kind words)

Friday, January 18, 2008

blah blah blah

I apologize for all the complaining about my show I've done this week. I knew if I opened the floodgates it would all start coming out. I try to not do too much ranting here, and I have definitely gone over that line- for my own self, at least. I think I may delete posts or portions of posts, because I just hate having all that crap here online. Last night the director complimented me on my positive nature (apparently I am passing the patience test, at least outwardly) and the musical director (the same lady I loved who did our opera) gushed about me, which was nice, and of course makes me feel all Scroogish about the other things I've said. Not that every word wasn't true, but, as always, not the whole truth. So enough of that. For now, anyways.

I had planned to spend the entire day scrapbooking today. I haven't done much lately, but last week managed to spend a few hours getting started on my England scrapbook, and was really getting excited about it. I was looking forward to having a day of working at my own pace on something creative. Ah... but the best laid plans...

The May Queen is home sick from school today. As soon as I arrived home from dropping her off I received the message to come and retrieve her. She is not terribly sick, a fever just high enough to be sent home from school and the vague complaints of shifting symptoms. I am torn between my own disgruntled feelings of not getting "my day," my desire to make my child feel well, and my attempts to not make a sick day at home too fun so that she gets any ideas about faking it in the future. If she just wanted to curl up and sleep together on the couch I would be all for it, but playing with Polly Pockets on the cold living room floor is frankly a little too hard for my tired and cranky self today.

So we are on this delicate balance beam, she and I, at home together today. Neither of us feeling our best, and no real medicine to cure our ills.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

ACCENTuate the Positive

never mind. post deleted.

Don't forget Monday's Mission - award nominations (in honor of the Acadamy Award Nominations that will be announced on Tuesday). Make your own movie awards, or any other kind of awards, and nominate away.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I only wish it were fiction

Oh dear friends. That last post... that movie synopsis about the musical with the legally blind director and unrehearsed scenes and unfinished sets, etc, etc, etc? Every last word of it true. Well, except the made for cable movie part of it. I haven't written much about the rehearsal process before this because, well... you know, if you don't have anything nice to say and all. It's been an exercise in patience, and frankly I'm not sure I'm getting a passing grade. I feared if I began blogging about it the post would turn into a huge long tirade, and so the movie synopsis form gave me just the right length to let you in on what's going on, without it turning into a rant. (Plus, although this blog is anonymous I have to know that anyone can stumble upon it at any time, and so I try not to be negative about people I know. I read a blog by an actress that I find fascinating... like watching a train wreck. I think "Who in their right mind would ever hire this girl again?") However, even with all that said, I still feel decently confident that it will be a good show. We have some really talented people involved, and the script and music are, as most of you know, just lovely. I cry during the last scene at every rehearsal, it's just so beautiful. And hence the name of the "movie," The Magic of Theatre. Because somehow it will all pull together by Saturday. It almost always does.

Yesterday Kathryn at Seeking Sanity awarded me this:

Thanks, Kathryn.

There are so many blogs that I read with authors who speak so powerfully that the roar of their words is felt around the world, but the person who first jumped to my mind to pass this on to was Jen at One Plus Two. Her blogging about her work with the homeless is some mighty powerful stuff indeed, and once you read her blog you will never look at a person on the street the same way again. She will change you.

And in case you just can't get enough Mardi Gras, check out I am Mardi Gras (and so can you!) at The Ambassador Returns for another great perspective.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Magic of Theatre

Painted Maypole leads a cast of thousands in this made for cable movie about an actress in the chorus of a musical. The movie follows the cast during the final week of rehearsal as they struggle to overcome a director who is legally blind, many small children in the show, actors who have been cast at the last minute, scenes that have never been rehearsed, and an unfinished set. It's Waiting for Guffman meets Mr Magoo. Premieres this Saturday, January 19th at 8pm.

This week's Monday Mission is to write a post in the form of a movie synopsis. Write your own movie synopsis and post a link below. And be sure to check out all the the other brave souls who participated in this week's Mission.

Future Monday Missions:
1/21- Award Nominations (in honor of the Oscar Nominations that will be announced the next day. Your nominations can be for any kind of award you wish!)
1/28- Children's book or poem

Friday, January 11, 2008


So I spent most of the day away from blogland yesterday, taking seriously Allison's call to spend my blogging time reading something else instead. I came straight home from dropping The May Queen off at school and curled up in the chair to read (normally, I would blog for a bit). I realize now that 8:30am is NOT the time for me to sit in a soft chair and read. Let's just say that I was in and out of consciousness for a good part of the morning. During the conscious parts I finished up To Kill a Mockingbird, which I loved. I even cried a bit at the end. Why did I wait so long to read it? Now I can talk with a teacher friend of mine who says this is her favorite book. And now I understand why so many of you have talked so glowingly about Atticus. He presents such a wonderful model of parenting - to allow your children to be who they are and teach them about what is right by doing it quietly and consistently yourself.

Rather than reading blogs while I ate lunch, I began reading Emma. I know, I know, so many of you have entreated me to begin my reading of Austen with Pride and Prejudice. I heard you, I did. I first chose Emma for two reasons: one, Jen of a2eatwrite recommended I start there, and then I remembered a dear friend of mine who lamented when Rachel on Friends named her daughter Emma, because she loved that name and feared if she named her child that everyone would think she was copying Friends (she also worried Emma would become the new "it" name). So she read the book in hopes that she would dislike the book or character, and thus no longer like the name. It didn't work that way. Fortunately, so far she has only had a boy and hasn't had to wrestle any further with the name of Emma. So that's how I picked Emma. Then so many of you STRIDENTLY suggested I start with Pride and Prejudice instead. I considered your pleas, but chose to stick with Emma. I've seen the movie version of Pride and Prejudice, and would prefer to begin my foray into the words of Ms. Austen with only my imagination to conjure up the scenes and the characters. I'm only 3 chapters in, but so far so good.

I enjoyed my time off of blogging for reading, but of course many of you were still blogging, so my reader was quite full this morning (OK, OK, last night when I checked it and even read a few of your blogs. I couldn't quite make it all day.) I'm struggling with this balance in blogging - of how to not spend too much time doing it, but also to be a good and faithful friend to all of you wonderful people I've met. I get a lot out of reading you and writing for you. If anyone has any tips on how you balance blogging and life, I'd love to hear them.

Only 5 of you played along with the Krewe name challenge of my last post, so in the spirit of letting the good times roll, I've decided to award you ALL with a Mardi Gras package. So if Jen of a2eatwrite, Sober Briquette, Christine at Running On Empty, Mary Beth at Books...Cats...Life is Good, and RimaRama would send me their addresses (email to pntdmaypoleATyahooDOTcom)I'll make a trip to the post office Monday morning. Thanks for playing along!

Monday's Mission is to write a post in the style of a movie synopsis. If you choose to accept your mission come back here on Monday and leave a link to your post.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Throw Me Something, Lady!

It's Carnival Time!

January 6th marks Epiphany, and the official start of the carnival season. Carnival lasts until Ash Wednesday, culminating in the huge party that is Mardi Gras.

Despite what you've seen on television, Mardi Gras and the weeks proceeding it are truly a time for family fun. Granted, I would not take my child to Bourbon Street (but I've been on Mardi Gras! It was fun!), but outside of that small area in the French Quarter, there is much to do.

It all begins with the appearance of King Cake everywhere you go. King Cake is a coffee cake (you can get it in the plain cinnamon variety or with various fillings. Cream cheese is my favorite) covered with frosting and colored sugar (purple, green and gold, the official Mardi Gras colors). Hidden within the cake is a tiny plastic baby. The cake is named after the kings who came searching for the baby Jesus, and so finding the baby is designed to remind us that we, too, should be seeking Jesus. Tradition also states that the person who finds the baby has to supply the next king cake.

The parades start immediately. As Mardi Gras grows closer the parades grow more frequent. With a short season, like this year (Mardi Gras is Feb 5th) the parade schedule is pretty packed from the get go. There are the huge parades in the city, pretty good sized ones in the suburbs, boat parades and truck parades, lawnmower parades and parades of kids pulling their wagons through the neighborhood. Everyone loves a parade, yes?

The floats are fairly interesting, but what sets parades here in New Orleans apart from anywhere else that I know of is the amount of STUFF that they throw. We moved here just before Mardi Gras, 2005. We took MQ to her first parade. We were warned that we would get a lot of stuff with a cute little blond girl on her daddy's shoulders. We schooled her in yelling out "Throw me something, Mister!" We took along a bag for our goodies. We walked away from the parade with three bags that weighed more than she did, plus the bottom basket of the stroller loaded. Beads, stuffed animals, moon pies and more were hurled at us from the passing parade. (It gets really dangerous at the St. Patrick's Day parades, when they hurl very large cabbages at your head.)

Going to the parades is an event. Often we gather with friends for a party before the parade, then walk to the parade route. We take coolers and food. We deck out in our Mardi Gras finery. Down in the city many families wear costumes.

Every home in the New Orleans area, I imagine, has an attic full of beads and other parade "throws." We have 2 large Rubbermaid containers full of them. MQ likes to take them out and sort them by color. We play parade where she stands on the bed and throws them to me. She lays on the ground and I cover her up them. They are well used beads. We keep one of the bins in the guest room and tell our guests to take however many they want. When we tell them this they usually demur, until they see the huge bin, and we explain that that's a mere half of what we have in the house. Then they fill up their suitcase.

The day before Mardi Gras, Lundi Gras, is a great time to head with your family into the French Quarter. There is free music on the riverfront, street performers, and of course, you have to stop for a beignet.

When I mentioned on Sunday that we decorate for Mardi Gras Beck wanted some pictures. What you have to understand is that nearly EVERYONE down here decorates for Mardi Gras. Not only can you buy stuff in nearly every store, but you get things thrown to you at parades. So... here, a glimpse of the decorations in my house:

The May Queen's playroom is always decorated for Mardi Gras. We bought this poster our first year here, and then bought the cheap feather masks at a souvenir shop in the quarter - 3 for $5. The feather mask and boa were caught at a parade.

Any home with a flagpole out front flies a Mardi Gras flag. I bought this on sale, and fancied it up with beads caught at parades. This Mardi Gras wreath is new this year. May I just say that I love my glue gun? The sign at the top of this post, which hangs just inside my front door, I caught off of a balcony on Bourbon Street last Mardi Gras. It was attached to some beads, and I wore it around all night. And no, I did not flash anything to get it. You do not need to lift your shirt to get beads. Breast showing is for tourists. Stupid tourists. You do see a fair amount of breasts being shown on Bourbon Street, and not just on Mardi Gras.

The Mardi Gras tree. Crazy, I know. Lots of people with fake trees leave them up and decorate them for Mardi Gras. This small tree was our only tree during the toddler years, and now it lives in the playroom during Christmas. But after Christmas the traditional ornaments come off, and it gets decorated with beads and feathers. I use this tree to display the beads we've caught that have medallions from the various Krewes (each parade is hosted by a Krewe, and they have their own special beads they toss) and a few other cool ones we've caught along the way.

Our living room. Again, all the beads were caught at parades. And the bear. He is one of MANY.

After Katrina many people questioned whether New Orleans should even have Mardi Gras. So many people were gone. So many more were suffering. Homeless. But Mardi Gras is a part of this city, just like the music and the food. Mardi Gras restored the strength of so many who were tired and burnt out. Mardi Gras gave them the chance to forget, for just a little while, that they were living in Fema trailers. They ate and danced and costumed and hollered for beads. And then they went back to work (if you are new to this blog, may I recommend that you read my post I Know What It Means to Love New Orleans. It's my love letter to the city, and there are even more Mardi Gras and other N.O. pictures there)

I would invite you all to come and crash on my couch for Mardi Gras, but as we don't have any guests this year we are taking advantage of the week off of school to go to Disney. Yes, the May Queen is thrilled.

However, in the spirit of Mardi Gras I think I hear the masses yelling "Throw Me Something, Lady," and so I will. Post a comment and include the name of an official New Orleans (or NO area) Mardi Gras Krewe (no repeats, please). On Friday I will randomly select 3 people who gave me a new Krewe to receive a small box of authentic Mardi Gras beads and other various throws, all caught at parades, as well as a CD of New Orleans music, mixed for you by me, with love. So you can throw your own Mardi Gras parade or party. I may even throw in some recipes for New Orleans food. Mmmm.....

p.s. I'll be taking the day off tomorrow for Day To Read. If I can keep away from the computer, that is. See you on Friday.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Unto US a child is born

There's a virtual baby shower going on, and I'm thrilled that I won't have to clip any clothespins on my clothes and refrain from saying the word "baby."

A year ago Jen and Mad had a virtual wedding and created the Just Posts- and now each month they publish a list of posts that deal with social justice issues (open to anyone - just send in a link to a post you wrote or a post you read, and it'll be included!). Being gals of the new millennium they have a rather open marriage, and opened it up to become a more international affair, and Hel and Susanne jumped into what HAS to be the California King bed of this marriage.

And in honor of their first anniversary they are having a baby! Instead of being just WORDS about justice, they are moving into ACTION, and asking that we gift their active baby with some active gifts of our own.

whew. That's a lot of introduction.

Anyhow... what they are looking for is a movement of volunteerism - that we of the blogosphere be inspired by the voices around us calling out for justice and action and, well, ACT.

So I got to thinking about what I could offer up in the way of volunteerism. I felt like I didn't volunteer very much.

But then I realized I volunteer like crazy! I do a LOT of volunteer things through my church: I lead the Sunday School opening (songs! where we jump around and do hand motions!) each Sunday, I sing in the praise band, I serve on the worship planning committee, I organize dramas for worship (and am launching a more organized group for this in February), I head up the study portion of my bi-weekly small group, and for the third year in a row I am heading up the Vacation Bible School (which is no small task!) These are just my regular commitments... I also do occasional things like helping with funerals, taking food to shut-ins, collecting donations for various things, decorating for Christmas, serving Thanksgiving dinner at a center for previously homeless women and children. I've learned over the years to focus my volunteering time in areas where I have gifts and enjoy my service. I do not usually go to the "clean the church" days, because I don't have the gift of cleaning (just take a look at my house!). I don't cook meals often, because that is not my gift. It becomes a chore rather than something that gives me joy. And sometimes we have to do things that aren't our specific gifts. Sometimes there are things in any organization that need doing, and sometimes we have to offer our warm bodies to do them. I'm willing to do that on occasion. But where I really give my time and effort is into the things that speak to my heart: children, artistic expression, study and fellowship.

I also volunteer a lot in the theatre. Granted, most of the work I do in the theatre ends in a check of some sort for me. But depending on the show, the check is often MUCH smaller than my gas bill, let alone the time and energy (and babysitting fees!) I put into it. I get frustrated by this, and wish I could make a living acting. But I started thinking about it as volunteering. By volunteering my time and talent I am keeping an artistic organization going - an organization that does pay people for their creativity (directors, designers, etc make more than actors do, at this level, anyways!) I bring theatre to people for a more reasonable price. If I value art and music and theatre and dance then volunteering my time toward making these things available to the community is a very worthwhile endeavor.

And then there are the other occasional things: helping out at MQ's school, organizing things through my local MOMS Club, etc.

When I stop to look at it, even when I'm NOT in rehearsals for a show or running VBS or another large project, I am probably volunteering 5-10 hours a week. So I was tempted to say to Jen and Mad (and Hel and Suzanne) "Look, here is your present! All the stuff I already do!"

But that feels a bit like regifting. Not that I've never done that. Ahem.

So I'm looking for another way to volunteer. Somewhere (most likely) outside of the church, something that deals a bit more directly with social justice issues. I'm not entirely sure what yet. I'm thinking and praying about it. I'm also thinking it would be nice to do something that MQ can join me for. One thing I'm thinking about is working through a nursing home, reading to a resident and visiting. MQ can make pictures and deliver her high wattage hugs. This won't bring world peace or stop hunger or even find homes for the homeless, but I think the elderly are so often overlooked in our society, and that we, in many ways, have failed them. But I wonder if there may not be a program for children in our area that I could get involved with, and have MQ join me. I'm just not sure. So, like so many people who are offering their gifts at this shower, I don't yet have a firm "this is what I am going to do." As I said, I've learned that volunteering in areas where my gifts and my heart are aligned has proven to be much more rewarding, not only for me but for those I am serving. Jumping into something and then not enjoying it enough to want to keep with it isn't helpful. So I have this vow, this vow that I hope isn't too wishy washy, that I am looking for a new way to volunteer, a way to help tackle the justice issues all around us. I just don't quite know what that will look like yet. But I am inspired by the voices I have heard, and am excited about how we are going to make this world a better place. Just think... last month they posted a list of posts by 33 writers. If these 33 people are moved to action, think of the individuals and communities they will effect. If they blog about it, think of the others who might also be inspired to act. And so it goes, snowballing out.

"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead

Jen, Mad, Hel and Susanne... you are one heck of a small group of committed people. Look out world.

And I am reminded of another baby, whose birth I just celebrated, who came to bring justice to the world. I can think of no better way to launch this into the world. Unto US a child is born...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Thanks for the wonderful gift!

To the makers of Polly Pockets clothing,

Thank you so much for your ingenious way of ensuring my daughter and I get to spend quality time together. She's at an age where she is actually interested and capable of playing by herself for moderate stretches of time, but your thoughtfulness has ensured that she will still need me by her side. No need for me to fill the empty space in my life with a good book or a hobby of my own. No, your brilliant design for impossible to put on rubber clothes for tiny plastic dolls keeps my daughter at my side, or at the very least, bellowing for me across the house. And certainly I treasure all the time I spend with my gorgeous daughter. Thank you for providing just one more way to stretch that time out.

And a special kudos in regards to the shoes. I would have thought that Barbie shoe designers had perfected the art of tiny shoes that never stay on a doll's feet, but you truly have taken the art to the next level. And they are so tiny! How do you make them? And the fashion trend you are surely starting... you know, the mismatched shoe trend (because the other one was lost/sucked up in the vacuum/eaten by the cat) is sure to hit the runways anytime now, and I certainly think you deserve all the credit.

You are so thoughtful, and clearly know not just what every little girl will crave, but what every mother is just dying to have in her home.

Many thanks for making every day like a holiday,

Painted Maypole

This post is a Monday Mission, today's mission was to write a post in the form of a thank you letter. You don't have to be sarcastic, a true and heartfelt thank you letter is welcome as well. Or any other kind of thank you that strikes your fancy. If you write your own Thank You post, put a link for it below, and then go visit all the other Monday Missions!

Future Monday Missions:
1/14- Movie Synopsis
1/21- Award Nominations (this is a change, in honor of the Oscar Nominations that will be announced the next day. Your nominations can be for any kind of award you wish!)
1/28- Children's book or poem

Remember: Monday Missions are a jumping off point. I suggest a style for writing a post, and I love to see where your creativity takes you. There are no real "rules," other than don't put your link in the widget if you haven't written a post in response to the Mission. However you want to interpret the mission, though, is up to you. It is basically to get you to play around with different styles of writing. Have fun!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Twelfth Night

or what you will

(and apparently what I will for this post is some random bits and pieces)

It's the Twelfth Day of Christmas, and for the first time ever, I think, my tree is still up. Ironically this Christmas was probably the earliest I ever put it up, too. It's still green and beautiful, and just recently started dropping needles. I'll take it down today, and it's a shame, too, because it was just this week that I discovered that with a slight rearranging of chairs my favorite place in the house is curled up in the arm chair beside the tree, with the lights shining, the ornaments peeking out from the branches, a book in my hand and cat in my lap. I've put all the rest of the decorations in the attic between yesterday and today (more slowly than planned since The May Queen didn't go back to class on Thursday due to a broken heater pump at the school). Sunday is Epiphany and we'll decorate for Carnival and Mardi Gras, which I'll write more about next week.

The fantastic Allison over at Soccer Mom in Denial has suggested we all take some time away from blogging on Thursday, January 10th and make it a day to read. I'm taking her suggestion to heart, although I sure will miss my spot next to the Christmas Tree. My plan is to read Emma, by Jane Austen, because all you people have finally convinced me that my life is missing something for never having read a single one of her books. But I'll have to finish To Kill a Mockingbird first, because I hate having 2 novels going at one time, and having to choose which one to read! How I got to be 33 without having read To Kill a Mockingbird or any Jane Austen is beyond me, particularly since I took tons of lit classes in college.


Monday's Mission is to write a post in the form of a Thank You letter. As if you aren't writing enough of those after Christmas!


The May Queen likes to run through the house looking for the cat (much to the cat's mostly patient chagrin) calling "Shakespeare! Shakespeare!" Hearing that name from her tiny lips just makes me smile. Someday she will know the bard behind the name, and not just the feline, and will hopefully call out his name with the same enthusiasm. OK, a mom can dream, right?

Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night was written, it is said, at the request of Queen Elizabeth to be performed at a celebration on the Twelfth Day of Christmas. When I was in college a friend of mine and I always said we should play the separated twins, Viola and Sebastian, as we were nearly identical in height, hair, and build. In fact, at a party at his apartment once someone came up and tapped me on the shoulder, calling me by his name. She was a bit surprised when I turned around. I've long since lost touch with him (last I heard he was directing shows in the Chicago area) but still would love a chance to play Viola.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Getting ahead of ourselves

Last night I was getting the May Queen ready for bed. I was in her bathroom, washing my hands, and she had just picked her two bedtime stories and was sitting on her bed, waiting for me to read them.

"I think I'll grow a girl first."

"Hmmm?" I asked.

"In my tummy. When I'm a grownup. I think I'll grow a girl first."

I crawled onto the bed behind her and pulled her into my lap.

"Then you will be the mommy of a little girl, just like I'm the mommy of you, my little girl."

"But you will still be MY mommy."

"I'll always be your mommy. And if you have a little girl, I'll be her grandma."


I gave her a squeeze, feeling both happy about the present and excited about the future, but wanting it all to slow down.

"So... what book are we reading?"

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Hello there. It's me. The cat. I've been very busy around the maypole, checking out the new digs. I realized the woman was the one most wary of my existence in this house, and I set to work right away winning her over. If everyone is sitting down, it's HER lap I crawl in to. I purr and tuck my nose under her arm. I've managed to not bother her allergies at all, which is a feat in and of itself. She thinks it's adorable when I sleep under the Christmas Tree, so I've been sure to do that a lot.
I have had to hide out a bit, what with the 3 extra children who were visiting wanting to pick me up and carry me around all the time. But I resisted the urge to growl or bite them when they did, and even showed great restraint when they tried to push me around in the doll stroller. Fortunately the bigger people usually come to my rescue fairly quickly.

I use the litter box (except for one minor incident my first day which I refuse to discuss, except to say that the original location of my litter box was not ideal, but the people have moved it and it's all better now). I eat the food they give me. I stay off the table and the counters. Mostly.

I do have to keep them on their toes, though. I snuck outside today, but trust me, I have no intention of running away. I know I have it good here. I just wanted to see what was behind that door. But I came back and meowed outside the door, and they were baffled to find me out there. Had no idea I was missing, or how I got out. And no, I won't tell you my secret. He he. Like I said, it's good to keep them on their toes.

They have finally come up with a name for me. The naming was a rather arduous process, and the two older people were writing down quite a list of possibilities. I am glad that they rejected Gwain. And Meow Meow, which the child suggested. That would have been humiliating. After a rather scientific process which involved a point system and several tiers of voting they have decided to name me Shakespeare. The big guy said this was appropriate, since I am the woman's cat (me having chosen her as my preferred human, and all). I'm not entirely sure what he meant by this, but I do know that being named is good. It means they plan to keep me.