Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Errata

The May Queen and I have safely arrived in Michigan, and are currently ensconced at the in-laws. Visions of building a snow fort are surely dancing through MQ's dreams, so you know what we'll be doing in the morning. The May Queen is continuing to earn her inherited title of "The Director" (which she took over when my grandmother died over 4 years ago... yes, we knew even then...) by declaring things like "We will each open two presents, and then Mommy will make scrambled eggs while I play with my newly opened toys, and then we will open the rest of the presents." Which is pretty much how it went down. The Big Guy and I got a kick out of opening all the presents she got for us... things of "hers" that she wrapped for us... many of which were ours to begin with (like the Detriot Lions stuffed animal she stole from her daddy years ago). She did take into account our tastes, though. She gave me several shark story books. Even though I didn't win over at Magpies, The Big Guy got me a Wii fit! Or will get me one... as soon as the stores restock. He also is having an apron made for me... I expressed that I wanted one that went over the shoulders and not my neck (that always bothers me) and couldn't find one... and it turns out that a woman at our church makes aprons. How cool is that? So I am pleased as punch with my soon to be arriving gifts. After opening presents I packed us up, and we nearly didn't make it to the airport due to INSANE traffic caused by a wee bit of fog and overacting bridge officials, but we made it, and The May Queen has already scaled the snowy mountains a few times, at 10:30 at night, and who can blame, her really? What an adventure for a little southern girl.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Welcome, Jesus

One of the things about Christmastime that I love is hearing the Christmas songs on the radio. I find it astonishing to hear the old hymns and such great theology, linking the reason we celebrate Christ's birth to his earthly death, on the radio. Nonstop. (OK, in between "Baby It's Cold Outside" and the ever manipulative "Christmas Shoes")

But tonight a song, much newer, was sung during worship, and I think it just says it all for me (particularly the last bit... gets me every time) ...

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting

Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that you don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home
Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence

Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born
So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy

Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world

Welcome to our World, by Chris Rice

Merry, Merry Christmas to all of you.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A letter to the man in red

Dear Santa,

There is no THING that I need this Christmas, and only a few THINGS I might put on a wish list: pants that reach my ankles, an apron, maybe a Wii fit. I'm sure your busy elves could make them, or head to mall and find them there, if that's easier.

But what I'd really like for Christmas, besides the always elusive world peace and 4 extra hours in a day, aren't things you can make in your workshop or buy at the big box stores. They aren't easily wrapped in shiny paper and topped with a bow. I'd like JOY this Christmas. I'd like GRACE this Christmas. I could go for an extra large serving of CONTENTMENT. And how about some LOVE and HOPE, while you're at it. Some FAITH would be nice, too.

I wish, Santa, that you could find a way to give those things to all the people you visit Christmas Eve. That you would slide down their chimney, eat the cookies on the plate, and leave in their place a heaping lot of joy, grace, contentment, love, hope and faith.

But now that I think about it, Santa, it seems to me that the very first Christmas those WERE the gifts that were given. To all of us through all the ages. That those gifts have already been given. But they are lost under the pile of THINGS... and not just the new things in shiny packages under the Christmas tree in December, but the things that fill our lives all year round. The things we use to push away these gifts. To ignore these gifts. To fill the hole that the lack of these gifts has left in our lives.

And so we write letters to you and tell you what we wish for. We long to believe in something so good, so steadfast and so generous as you Santa.

No offense, Santa, but you're a poor replacement for the original star of this show we call Christmas.

As I write this I'm starting to wonder how I might give these things to others for Christmas. I'm not sure I can wrap them up and hand them to them with a smile and a "Merry Christmas," but I'm pretty sure that I know some people who could use some love. And some grace. I definitely know some people who need hope. It won't be easy to hand it to them. It will take a little longer. It will take time and relationship and probably quite a lot of commitment on my part. It will cost more than I'm used to spending, and not necessarily in dollars. It won't end on December 25th. But it will be a gift that keeps on giving.

And Santa? For me? I think that maybe writing this letter was your gift to me. Thanks for the reminder.

I wish you joy, grace, contentment, love, hope and faith. Merry Christmas!


Painted Maypole

This post is a Monday Mission. This week's Mission is to write a post in the style of a letter to Santa. Have fun! If you play along, post a link in the widget below:

*No Mission next week! See you in 2009 with a new slate of Missions.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bookish Advice

For Magpie, who challenged us (ages ago) to make fun little stacks with our books, playing with the titles. (Alejna reminded me)

In case you can't read them...
Christopher Durang Explains it All for You
How to Clean Practically Anything
1001 Ways to be Romantic
Raising Self Reliant Children
The Animal in You
Friends are Forever
Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them
Character Above All

(is there anything else anyone needs to know?)

Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is for all my bloggy friends to participate in this Monday's Mission, which is to write a post in the form of a letter to Santa. So slide down their chimneys and help them type up some clever "Dear Santa" posts, would you? Please?

Painted Maypole

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Tips

Because I know you look to me for all things domestic.

done laughing yet?

OK... my FAVORITE tip is this: take pictures of all your holiday decorations, and then when you pack them up at the end of the season pack them by room, and tuck a print out of your pictures in the box. Then, next year, if you have a little bit of time you can grab a "living room" box and decorate quickly, and you don't have to stop and think "where did I put this angel?" This makes it so much easier than my old way of putting it ALL out on the dining room table and trying to decide where it went, and then putting it all back on the dining room table and packing it up randomly.

Stock up on sales - both pre and post holiday. I found Webkinz at buy one get one free, and let me tell you, every child who's birthday party we attend next year will be receiving a Webkinz (and around these parts, Webkinz are Bday gold!). No more running around for a present. ALSO... not only do I buy all my cards and Christmas wrapping paper at 70% off or more in post holiday sales - but I buy plain paper that works year round - I have red, purple, green, silver and gold that I bought dirt cheap because they were on holiday clearance, but can be used for any event. Hooray, me.

Little kids do not mind used presents. If it's not in a box it just makes it easier to play with immediately. Stock up at garage sales and the like year round. My attic always has a box or two of presents for later that I picked up for a buck. Frugal AND earth friendly.

Do your parents really want one more thing to dust? Probably not. Do something nice in their name (help out a family who needs food and presents, give to a charity, volunteer your time for a cause they appreciate) and write them a nice letter telling them what you did for them and why. Our parents LOVE this. We tuck the letter in with a small ornament, and each year as they decorate the tree they reread all the letters.

Christmas cards: I love getting Christmas cards from friends, but just a plain card signed with your name gets little response. I actually enjoy the cheesy "this is what we did this year" letters, the pictures, and any hand written note is fantastic. No matter how much you slaved over picking the perfect card, it's just a folded piece of glittery cardstock until you make it personal.
ALSO: if you scrapbook those cards make great embellishments for your pages.

And finally, cheesecake Hershey Kisses are only available during the holidays. Buy them now. Trust me. mmmm.....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Painted Maypole has succumbed to peer pressure.

Painted Maypole finally joined facebook. Because she has all this extra time to kill (cough, cough).

Painted Maypole is trying to resist looking at the long lists of friends of friends to find people she also knows.

Painted Maypole has received requests from people whom she could swear she has never met, but apparently we have friends in common. Painted Maypole doesn't quite know how to handle this. (what is the internet etiquette there?)

Painted Maypole is now "friends" with people she had only a passing aquaintance with in college. Twelve years ago. She's not sure she cares what they are doing now, frankly. Unless they can get her a paid acting gig.

Painted Maypole plans to keep her blogging and facebooking separate, since she blogs anonymously, and so although she truly does consider you all to actually BE her FRIENDS, she is politely declining all of your kind offers to "friend" her on facebook. At least for the time being.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I need rest

Sung to the (edited) tuned of Be Our, from Disney's Be@uty and the Be@st, the show Painted Maypole is currently rehearsing:

Painted Maypole:
I need rest! I need rest!
In my bed would be the best
Let me say that every day
my nerves are frayed, is this a test?
Do a show! Now rehearse!
Try to memorize this verse!
It's hard work for this tired Mama
(does that last line need a comma?)
I must sing! I must dance!
(Do I have any clean pants?)
How can I expect to clean and shop and rest?
The director shouts "Encore!"
so I go back for more
but I need rest
I need rest
I need rest!

You need rest! You need rest!
For your health, it is the best!
Take some time to go unwind
when you're not here, go get some rest!

Painted Maypole:
Are you nuts? I'm always here!
And my "to do" list's a thing to fear
Shopping, cooking, sending cards out
just the cleaning can make me pout

He'll lift you up, way up high
You'll kick your legs up in the sky
Now just smile! We want the audience impressed!

I have so much to do
is that one kick or two?
I need some rest
I need rest!
I need rest!

(dance break wherein Painted Maypole is lifted above some gentleman's head, and then does a complicated mug banging combination, bruising the dilly daylights out of her knuckles...)

Painted Maypole:
I need rest! I need rest!
Someone please hear my request
In these 4 months it's been 4 shows and oh
Am I obsessed?
Comedy, tragedy,
I do it all, as you can see
While my mood just keeps yo-yoing
One show closes, I keep going...
Stage by stage, cast by cast
And I ask "is this the last?"
And if I'm honest with myself I must confess
When it's all said and done
It's been a lot of fun
still I need rest!
I need rest!
I need rest
Please, I need REST!

(After ending with a big kick line finish - with an enormous plate strapped to her back, no less - Painted Maypole collapses to the ground and begins snoring)

This musical post has been sponsored by Monday Missions. This weeks Mission is to write a post in the style of a song (rewrite the lyrics to a familiar tune). Write you own little ditty and post a link in the widget below.

And be sure to join us next week, when our Mission will be to write a post in the style of a letter to Santa.

(as always, I'm tinkering with show names to try to be less google-able. thanks)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Proposition 8 the musical

Upset about California's proposition 8? Worried about the economy?

Check out this (short) star studded musical.

Didn't you know that Musical Theatre was sure to solve the world's problems?

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Big News

Kat is pregnant, and her post about "The Reveal" (and the picture of her husband should not be missed...)had me thinking about when I found out I was pregnant with The May Queen.

It was my first month off the pill, and I wasn't holding my breath. The day before my period was supposed to start was a Saturday, and I flew to New York City to do some publicity performances for the book of plays with me on the cover. I remember that night at a restaurant on Staten Island wondering whether or not I should order a glass of wine. I didn't.

The period didn't come. It didn't come. Then, several days later, I had some minor cramps. Ah, here it comes I thought. I had a glass of wine at a reception. It still didn't come.

Our little publicity tour ended and I went to stay with a dear friend just outside the city for a few days. I came down with a serious stomach bug that I had caught from another cast member and stayed home all day while my friend went to work. I walked to the drug store and bought some pepto bismal and a pregnancy test. It was Friday. I was 6 days late.

When my friend came home from work I told her I was pregnant. She cried. She immediately bent over and began whispering through my belly to the unborn child. To this day she will not tell me what she said.

I wanted to tell The Big Guy in person, and when I talked to him on the phone the next day I kept the conversation short. I was near to bursting with wanting to tell him.

On Sunday I flew home. At this point I had known I was pregnant for 48 hours, and only my friend knew. The Big Guy picked me up from the airport. But I didn't want to tell him in the car. So I waited until we were home (that may have been the longest 20 minutes of my life). And standing in the tiny kitchen of the house we were moving out of in a week... I looked in his eyes and told him we were going to be parents.

This Monday's Mission (and tell me, why wouldn't you accept it?) is to write a post in the style of a song (rewrite the lyrics to a familiar tune) - one of my favorites from my early days of posting (click on the link to see last year's entries).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2 words I never thought I'd say in Louisiana : SNOW DAY!

I don't think satsuma trees are used to having snow on them...

Just before 7am my husband came in and said "Wake up The May Queen and tell her to look out the window. It's snowing!"

Soon after, this was the view out of our front door. MQ stood at the window watching the enormous wet flakes swirling to the ground and declared "This is the best day EVER!"

As soon as we determined that school was, indeed, cancelled, we bundled up and headed out to play.
Again MQ yelled "This is DEFINITELY the best day ever!"

I taught MQ and the neighbors how to roll the snow to make a snowman.It snowed for about 4 hours before it started to sleet. We went in and out playing and warming up, drying our meager winter clothes in the dryer. Many, many cups of hot chocolate are being consumed.

our house

This is a day we'll be talking about for the rest of our lives.

(Can you believe that 2 days ago it was 70 degrees outside?)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Magic of the Dressing Room

Much has been said and written about the magic of the stage... that fabulous fusion that happens when you add lights and costumes and sets and sound to the work the actors have been doing on a bare and dusty stage for weeks. There's no doubt that it's exciting.

But often there's a kind of magic that happens for the actors in the dressing room. Suddenly, after weeks of rehearsals where there is a bit of chit chat before and after being on stage, where actors who aren't on sit quietly backstage or in the house looking over lines or reading books or occasionally in whispered conversations... suddenly, they are in a dressing room together for an hour or so each night before performance. There's hair to be done and make up to apply and bonding to occur. It's when you find out about the quiet people in your cast. It's when you find out a LOT about the not so quiet people in your cast. Jokes are told and laughs are shared and hardships are commiserated.

Occasionally a cast will manage to create cohesion during the rehearsal process. But far more often it happens under the bright lights of a makeup mirror, as everyone prepares to work together to pull this thing off. And even if you have a small part, you suddenly feel like a vital part of the show.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Iggle Me, Jiggle Me, Wiggle Me too*

Iggle Me, Jiggle Me, Wiggle Me too
sit on my waist like a pile of goo
"Go away!"
"Be Gone"
"What can I do
with Iggle Me, Jiggle Me, Wiggle Me too?"

Iggle loved chocolate and Jiggle drank brew
and Wiggle ate peanuts and mulligan stew
as larger
and larger
and larger they grew
Iggle Me, Jiggle Me, Wiggle Me too

Iggle Me, Jiggle Me, Wiggle Me too
Over my waistband, I can't see my shoes
"Work out!"
"Step up!"
"Pilates, too"
farewell Iggle Me, Jiggle Me, Wiggle Me too

Iggle Me, Jiggle Me, Wiggle Me too
Can someday be "those blokes I knew"
by a Wii Fit so new
Old Iggle Me, Jiggle Me, Wiggle Me too

*with apologies to the incomparable Shel Silverstein

This post is a Monday Mission AND an entry to win a Wii Fit, because the home elliptical machine is getting boring and unchallenging, and I can't make regular dates with a workout buddy, but if I had an accountability partner hooked up to my television... surely Iggle Me, Jiggle Me, and even Wiggle Me, too would flee in fear. Or at least iggle, jiggle and wiggle a bit less.

This week's Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a post in the style of a poem (a favorite of Mary G from back when I was just reading the Missions and not hosting them!)

if you are feeling poetic, place a link in the widget below:

upcoming missions:
12/15 - a song (rewrite the lyrics to a familiar tune) - one of my favorites
12/22 - a Letter to Santa (this is not a nostalgic mission, but Joy suggested it and I couldn't resist.)
12/29 - no Mission - see you next year!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Santa's been a bad boy

The show I'm in - you know, the one about the amazing occurrence on a specific street in NYC - opened this weekend. Very, very briefly I appear in the scene before the Macy's parade as a Rockette, and my costume is causing quite the stir backstage. I decided, along with the gentleman playing the drunk Santa who gets fired in the same scene, to take some fun pictures backstage before the show. He claims he's going to use this one for his Christmas card. And yes, I'm holding a whip.

Monday's Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a post in the style of a poem - a favorite of Mary G from back when I was just reading the Missions and not hosting them!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Visions of tree chopping dance in my head

Today the Maypole clan headed north to brave the wilds and find the perfect vegetation to hold our holiday lights and treasured ornaments.

We climbed into ye olde minivan and drove about a mile before pulling into the lot of the depot of the home. We glanced over the rows of bundled trees. We spied a tree that appeared to be appx 8 feet in height. Bravely, the orange clad woman assisting us cut the string and shook the tree so that it's branches would fall down and behold, it was a perfect specimen, with nary a bald spot to be seen. The May Queen and I exchanged a high five and thus the deal was sealed (well, that and a swipe of the credit card).

After tying our treasure to the roof (and a brief stop at the store to pick up a last minute present for a birthday party tomorrow) we returned to our domicile and placed the enormous tree in a stand in our living room. It nearly touches the ceiling. It is straight as can be and clearly the best tree we've purchased perhaps ever. All done within about 10 minutes at the Home Depot.

hail the conquering heros

I have dreams (delusions?) of going to one of those lovely farms where you wander through the fields, pick your tree, and then cut it down. And maybe some day it will happen. But when I'm lucky to have one night free all month (ah... theatre...) and those farms are only open on the weekend? I'm thankful for being able to buy a tree from a parking lot! And thankful that this year we found one we all agreed on almost instantly (last year it took us hours and several lots).


We're letting it relax a bit and will decorate it on Saturday. I love getting out all the old ornaments and remembering who gave them to us or when they were made. It was a great tradition in my house growing up, with Christmas carols on the stereo. It's one of my favorite Christmas "tasks."

I just hope it won't lose all of its needles within the week. Which seems possible, as the rest of it has gone far too well.

gratuitous elf shot

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

You'll be older too And if you say the word I could stay with you.

Well, tonight it happened. The cheating. On the way home from rehearsal. Infidelity. And I did not toss the book on CD out the window and into the lake, although I thought about it.

Although I listened to the lead up with growing dread and anger, I will keep listening to the book. I like the writing, and I am curious as to what the author will do now. Before the transgression occurred the female character sat at a table with 2 older ladies and confessed her feelings, and they spoke with her about their own extramarital loves; what they did and didn't do about them, and what they regretted and didn't regret. I thought that perhaps we don't, in our lives, speak of these things enough in an honest way so as to support a friend though a similar temptation. So... we'll see. But I'm disappointed that the novel has gone that direction.

Earlier in the day, however, I saw some things that strengthened my hope in marriage, in sticking it out. As I entered the mall an elderly couple was leaving. The gentlemen held his wife's elbow, and around her other arm dangled a Victoria's Secret bag. Yes, perhaps it was a gift for someone else, but I prefer to think that they had just gone in and picked out something special together. Then later I sat next to a couple in the movie theatre (Australia - highly recommended...). They were at least in their 70s, and throughout the three hour movie they held hands, and left the theatre the same way.

THAT is where I hope to be in 40 years, with The Big Guy by my side.

recognize the lyrics I used for the title?