Friday, July 31, 2009

Our State Fair

is a great State Fair and it is coming up soon. I have less than three weeks to get my entries finished before delivery day at Fair Park. This year I'm entering three categories:
  • Infant Sweater Set, 2 or more pieces. This will be a sweater and hat in burgundy with a tan border embroidered with flowers (or appliqued knit flowers, haven't quite decided yet) and ruffled trim.

  • Character Doll which can either be a dressed purchased doll or made from scratch. I'm doing the latter and chose Anne of Green Gables as my subject. She will have hair of handspun yarn and fyi, the Kool-Aid recipe for 'decidedly red' is half a package of Orange with a teaspoon of Black Cherry. The pattern I'm using is one from Soft Dolls and Toys magazine- a re-working of an old Betsy McCall doll by Aletha Ike Putney.
  • Handspun, any item will be the Diva Scarf from Lion Brand in a pink, green, yellow, lavender blended colorway called "English Garden". I bought the wool from Jehovah Jireh Farm on eBay- they have some beautiful dyelots.
I'll try to post some photos once I get them finished.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bubs seems to be fine. His tox screen, CAT scan and MRI were all clear. The assumption now is that he had/has some sort of middle ear inflammation that was causing the motor impairment.
We are all very grateful that it was nothing more serious than that, though of course, we are keeping a close eye on him. Thank you so much for your prayers.
"Thank you for having me," he told the nurse when he hugged her good-bye.
Sweet little guy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Prayers, please
Bubs is at Children's Medical for the night, having some tests for some worrisome neurological symptoms. Your prayers for him, and all the Yarbs would be appreciated. I'll update as I know more.
Many thanks!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Morgan Jane
Who knew, a year ago,
when you were just a tiny little snippet

That you
would grow into the craziest, quirkiest, funniest, scary-smart toddler-girl we ever saw?
That's what you are, each and every day.
We love you, Morgie Jane.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I have the Oliver! photos, but don't want to post them until certain people have seen the show.

Target and Davy had tickets for Sunday, along with Sissy, Ni and friends. I had a frank talk with him at family dinner: "Look, sweetheart, if you're just going to this to be polite to the mom, it's really not necessary. I won't be offended and I can re-sell the tickets." Which I knew would be an important point, since one of his former careers was being a ticket-scalper in Chicago.
"No, no- I really do want to go. I was in Oliver! in like fifth grade. I got beat out for Oliver by a kid whose name was Oliver, but I was a gang member and know all the songs."
Well, okay, then.

Bubs found some of Ni's deadly magnet-n-rod toys, which I took home and threw away. Apropos of that, Marge told the story of how, when she was an R.A. for Governor's School at Hendrix, which is like summer play-college for high school students, one of the young men decided it would be a good idea to insert his testicles between two super strong magnets from the physics lab. It took a trip to the ER to remove them, after six hours or so. Good times.

I had just figured out how to operate the ice/water controls on the Yarb's new fridge and was getting some crushed ice when Bubs walked by.
'That's enough, Mimi" he decreed.

While decluttering the house after neglecting it for weeks, I found an American Scholar on the bedroom bookcase. I read an article on two author's correspondence and part of the critical article that followed. The next day, while browsing near the Dickens section at H-P Books, I found a slim volume by the same author on books and reading- a combination common-place book and book list. Synchronicity demanded that I buy it, along with an Annie Dillard and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Now I have to buy a lot of other new books, as well, as recommended by Mr. Dirda.
These buying sprees go in cycles- one idea trips another and off I go on Amazon and ABE, tracking down the pertinent texts.

Before that, I went to the Tea Party Gov't. Health Care protest at our representative's office in Irving. After the protest, we were invited in for some refreshments and had a long and informative talk with some of his aides.
What I wish? That in groups like the above, we could all just agree that indeed, we all think very decidely about whatever subject and just leave it at that. There's no prize for hating socialism, or Obama, or abortion or anything else more than everyone else present. Really. Conserve the energy and use it more constructively, I say.
This reminds me of why I was never a very good 'Traditional' Catholic- just couldn't get into the competitive angst.

De-cluttering the garden, as well, but that goes on the other blog. What I've decided is that though I've enjoyed the last few years costuming the musical, I'd really rather garden and mess with the children. Both activites have their own vitality and I love them both, but for right now, I lean more towards the introverted and contemplative. The times seem to require that, somehow.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Opening Night
went beautifully. With the exception of one set glitch but these things happen...
The theater was sold out. The orphans softened the audience up and Bumble, Corney and the live kitteh warmed them up and it all went great from then on.

Bits and pieces:
One of the older Gang members, in full raggedy costume and top hat, playing a Bach cantata on the director's keyboard that he'd brought in for warm-ups.
A passle of orphans, giving our menacing Bill Sikes with his beard and banged-up face, a big group hug.
Fagin- delighted that I'd added more tie to his costume, in lieu of not noticing in the design stage that what he needed was more vests.
That V. didn't recognize a guy he'd worked beside on sets for weeks, thanks to make-up and hair color. And that Greg was so gratified that V. noticed he'd been borrowing a little from Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow, for Fagin.
How excited, yet well-behaved, the little ones were. Last dress rehearsal is usually a morass of notes for everyone and utter frustration and disgust for the director and it does make an impression on them. At least for opening night.
Always and everytime- being amazed at the talent of ordinary people: students and software designers and nurses and teachers and salesmen and housewives getting togther to accomplish something as complicated as good musical theater. No false pride here- if they ever made me a personal t-shirt, like they did for Jas's dad, it would include the phrase "Sometimes, I really am a genius."
Never seen a cast happier with their costumes- with the possible exception of Tom, in that sauna of a great coat. Suffer for your art, pal. But that's not really fair, because he was asked (begged) to take the role. And he took it, since he's a pillar of the community.

All in all, a success.
Pictures, as soon as the CD is available.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"...and I hate your @$$ costumes!"*
No, of course I don't- we're just both so tired we don't know which end is up. Doing this is a little
like having a baby or wallpapering a room by yourself- you get into the big middle of it and wonder why you ever thought that was a good idea. But the results are so worthwhile that a type of amnesia sets in until you find yourself doing it all again.

This was my To-do list yesterday:
Sew remaining buttons of Bumble's coat
Baste cape to Bumble's coat
Change a button on Dodger's vest
Top-stitch the front facings of Dodger's coat
Baste false hair into two workhouse caps.
Add a hook and eye to a necktie as he can't get it over his head with his make-up on
Add ribbon ties to a hat (and I did the wrong one, because I didn't write it down, so Joan repaired it.)
Run elastic through the waist of two skirts, try them on the actress and stitch them down.
Sew buttons of the front of the Sword Swallower's vest and attach a braid closure
Let down the hem in one pair of rental pants and take up the hem in ditto
Add some ragged, flimsy fabric to the hem of Fagin's coat, so that it looks as though the lining is coming out
Put a pocket inside one of the gang vests
Distress orphan costumes. This involved laying them out on the drive outside, spraying them with grey spray paint and then dry-brushing them with brown paint, turning them over and repeating the process. I only did half of them, because I wanted to see the effect under the lights (they need a darker brown, it turns out) and because it was too darn hot out there.
Collect all costume pieces we rejected for Fagin's Gang and hang them on the spare rack.
Ditto for Women's Chorus.
Move petticoats from dressing room to the wonderful dressing area Joan and her husband rigged up in the Green Room for the women with those plastic latch strips, a curtain rod and rings and an old knit sheet.
And that was before the rehearsal began...

If you're wondering why all those things hadn't been done earlier in the process, some problems just don't show up until you see a costume under the lights or an actor rehearses in them. We just can't keep the actions of forty-one people in mind at all times and need the actor to let us know what little fiddles the costume needs. And, when we see the whole ensemble on stage, we often have to fill in items: this grouping is too pale, he needs a different neckercheif, she needs something on her head or off her head, a color looks weird under the lights, an actress needs her skirt taken up because she has to climb stairs with her hands full of props- things like that.

My To-Do for today:
Spend the morning with Bubs not thinking about theater at all.
Distress orphans
Take up pants hem
Tack other pants hem to legs
Tighten elastic in an underdress sleeve
Make a workhouse top
Start Good Show notes
Order flowers for volunteer moms

So, not so bad.

And the feedback we're getting is very gratifying. One of our Mr. Brownlow's said to me last night "I want to be Fagin, just so I can wear that costume."

* paraphrased from Waiting for Guffman, the best community theater movie there is.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Nickels and Dimes
That's what we're working on now. The last little details: bonnets and neckercheifs and shawls and distressing. Someone needs their sleeve shortened. Someone needs the sleeves removed from their shirt so they don't die of heat stroke under their black cordouroy coat. Mobcaps need to be assigned, ditto the top hats I found in storage. I discover that I gave Charlie's workhouse pants to Tim, but can give Charlie Sike's old knee pants because I never liked them and he wants to wear boots that look better with trousers, so everybody is happy. We have to make decisions on hair. I have to send out the Green Room Rules e-mail for the parents to impress upon their children and must try to not sound like a big old B in the process. Toni needs a ruffle on the back of her Old Sally cap to hide her hair. David needs a Sowerberry cravat and knife handles for his leather (suedecloth) Knife Grinder apron. I don't have to make those, but I do have to sew them into the pocket.

I have two-three large projects still to finish: Bumble's blue coat, to make a dress for one of the little girls and to shorten the sleeves on an underdress and to finish the hem on Dodger's coat- we wanted to see it in action before making a decision on the length.

Then, some housekeeping: reinforced Ziplocks for the kids' bits and pieces, moving clothing racks, stocking up on Febreze, final labeling of costumes pieces and taking the rejects back to storage. Not to mention Good Show notes for the cast and thank-you's for my wonderful volunteers.