Thursday, October 16, 2014

Whistling Mailman

Today I was awaiting some super-good news to befall a buddy in the way of a big performing arts award, and I couldn’t stand it, so I took my 2-mile walk to town to run a couple errands and do  some magical thinking and wishing and hoping and…(earworm?*) 

When I approached the bank (first errand), I heard but did not see the Whistling Mailman, but he put me in good cheer. At the library, it was 2-for-1 DVD day, so I got Infamous (the other Truman Capote film) and The Upside of Anger (Joan Allen!) for $1! At this point, I was pretty darn sure my pal would win his award!

Then I escaped death not once, but twice! For what to my wondering eyes and ears should appear, as I approached the parking garage, but the Whistling Mailman in his mail truck. He opened his window-door to say hello. I asked him how he was.

“I’m trying to stay out of the obits!”

“Me, too,” I said, confessing to the vague Internet Quiz Death paranoia.

He was sympathetic and almost whistled.

 “Don’t run over me with your truck,” I said, bravely walking in front of his government vehicle. He didn’t.

When I got to the corner, he was stopped at the crosswalk, looking down at the mail. His foot could slip off the brake, I thought, crossing with the light. It didn’t. He opened his window-door again, and we kept up the open-air conversation.

“Thanks for not killing me!” I called.

“What did it say? Death by government vehicle?” he called back.

I love our Whistling Mailman.

I won’t be whistling, though: “A whistling maid and a cackling hen / Always come to some bad end.” I’m glad I am able to cackle at my Internet Quiz Death, if still a bit haunted by it. After all, Jan Hooks and Elizabeth Peña just died. Sigh… Loved their work. At least I survived (spoiler alert!) past the age of the concierge from The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery!

But my wishful thinking did not make my pal get the award. Instead, he graciously congratulated another winner, and will move on to other things, and already has. “World tour!”

*Bacharachround Music: “Wishin’ and Hopin’” by Burt Bacharach (as sung by Dionne Warwick)(or as whistled by the Whistling Mailman)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An Apparent Intention

I'm on p. 456 of A Fire in the Mind, the biography of Joseph Campbell. I continue to enjoy the coincidences and connections I am making while reading the book, and reading it at the right time in my life. His wife, Jean Erdman, who is still alive (98), is a dancer, choreographer, and theatre artist, and I feel connected to her (via birthday) and delighted that my life in theatre and writing has also taken me into the dance world. Since she created a dance theatre piece, called The Coach with Six Insides, based on Finnegan's Wake, I will probably have to read Finnegan's Wake someday! At least I can use Campbell's Skeleton Key to get inside it!

Anyhoo, on p. 456 is this, from a letter Campbell wrote to Erdman:

"It all puts me mind again of Schopenhauer's wonderful piece on An Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual: how the continuities of a lifetime seem, in the end, to have been plotted out by a novelist--all the accidents, apparently uncoordinated as they first occur, concurring finally toward the shaping of an order."

I've been attuned to that "apparent intention" lately, noticing it in my own life, and also hearing a lot about it in current culture, while having forgotten that it came from Schopenhauer, so I suppose he'll also have to go on my reading/re-reading list.... Surely I've read some excerpted Schopenhauer! And those he influenced. Sigh.... How will I ever read everything? Also I'd rather look at this dahlia.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Acting in the Rain

We finished up the annual Evergreen Cemetery Walk, in its 20th year, with a wrap party at the McLean County Museum of History and a fond farewell to the retiring director, Judy Brown, to be succeeded by Rhys Lovell, who reprised his role this year as Hoss Radbourn, baseball player, and directed the scene I was in with Jeremy Stiller. We played Asahel and Mary Gridley, a sparring couple who look nothing like these two under their umbrella.

We did stand under umbrellas at times during the week, but cheerfully put them down and acted in the rain. And, briefly, in the snow! The very first Saturday was quite cold, and the earliest precipitation was white. While it soon dissolved into rain, it prompted Judy to recall the past and say, "I came in with snow and will go out with snow!" Judy also went out acting, doing a role she had played before, taking over as a sudden understudy for an actor taken ill. Bridgette returned, and all was well, but it made for some extra cemetery drama.

Today, on a rainy Blue Monday in the blog, I am playing catch-up again, with laundry, editing duties, general clean-up and organization, and possibly some poetry submission. I have finally read all the sweet cards from the cast of The Language Archive, which I was a bit too teary-eyed to peruse closely at the time, even though I was able to enjoy the gifts of fresh bread, kitchen towels, world music, marvelous scents via incense, and various wonderful doo-dads. I was comforted to see that the director of In the Next Room at ISU had the same problem. It's hard to let go of a production we love doing!

I guess it helps if it rains and snows on you, and you are on your feet for 6 hours a day, doing a performance 140 times in one week! But it was great fun!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Twisted Cords

Oh, my, this is beautiful. Twisted Cord Flower. It's from Africa and Asia. Sometimes when I think of what I might still yearn for in life, it is to see the beauty of flora elsewhere in the world and to taste the fruits! I am reading A Fire in the Mind, the biography of Joseph Campbell by Stephen and Robin Larsen, and he is traveling right now--India, Burma, Thailand, and Hong Kong...and headed to Japan. I love that guy, and in the world of serendipity, I share a birthday with his dancer wife, Jean Erdman, and my theatre life took me to her Theatre of the Open Eye in New York, once upon a time!

Last night I got to see In the Next Room, by Sarah Ruhl, at Illinois State University. Also beautiful! What a funny, sweet, tender, melancholy play. Very well done. I think this is the last night, and I've urged my parents to go see it, and I urge you, too. Tonight, locally, or any time you have the chance. Boy, do I love that play!

By marvelous chance, the actor who played the doctor in In the Next Room was in the audience today at the Evergreen Cemetery Walk. I was able to tell him he was fantastic! I felt so honored and delighted to see him there! It was our second-to-last day, good weather, wonderful audiences. One of our actors was taken ill, and we wish her well and hope to see her back tomorrow, but, if she needs to rest, we're glad our fearless director, and 20-year veteran of the walk, Judy Brown, could take over the role!

Anemone, or wind flower!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fear Nothing

Fear nothing! Not even a photoshopped flower. Oh, I hope it is real. I have white bleeding hearts in my garden and would love to have some black ones!

Beautiful day in the cemetery today! Sunshine! Leaves! Acorns!

In poetry news, here is a review of Fear Nothing of the Future or the Past, by Angie Macri, newly posted at Escape Into Life.

And here's a new theatre review, by Scott Klavan, of The Killing of Sister George. I've never seen it. (And the dolls do scare me.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Today we finished a round of school groups at the Evergreen Cemetery walk just before the tornado sirens sounded!

There was no tornado. It was the Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. test of the system. But it was raining, so the possibility of a tornado was watery in the air! It rained on and off all morning, and the sun came out in the afternoon. It is very good to have finished your speech or scene before the sirens sound, or before the train comes through, or the airplane goes over. We have been very lucky! So have the squirrels. Each day, my scene partner lines up acorns to keep track of how many times we have done our scene (a jillion in all, but 6 or 7 per round), and every morning they are gone. Stolen. Buried.

The cemetery workers do a beautiful job of upkeep. When I arrived at our spot this afternoon, one of the men was there blowing the latest leaves out of the family plot. He said, "I've got to keep the leaves out of your living room."

And, oh, my, I love lunch. They feed us so well--home-made soups, restaurant specialties, and home-baked cookies. It takes a lot of energy to do our work. And it takes a lot of cookies to keep us going!

In other news, I have a new Poetry Cheerleader review up at Prick of the Spindle and two poems in the current issue of Nimrod. It reminds me what I do in life, when I am not in the cemetery.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Who I Am

Today was the first day of the annual cemetery walk, and it was 1) cold 2) fun 3) a grand day with great audiences 4) cold 5) exhausting and 6) slatternly, meaning that, while I worked very, very hard, I did not tidy up my house. It was 37 degrees when I left the house in my underthings (decent things that I wear under my bustle, etc.) and the high today was maybe 51 degrees. My costume is impossible to put on at home--many hooks and eyes + aforementioned bustle--and impossible to get out of at home, if husband is off coaching volleyball, so I have to make the appropriate arrangements! I play Mary Gridley, historically pictured here, with fan, braids, and bustle.

Mary was the first role I played in the cemetery walk, which, as you have probably gathered, takes place outdoors in the actual Evergreen Cemetery (where Dorothy Gage is buried, the model for Dorothy Gale of the The Wizard of Oz). Here is the pink dress (with possible bustle) I wore then, standing next to the Asahel Gridley monument in the family plot. (Pronounced ASH-el, but he was actually a bit of an as&*%le.)

And here is the gorgeous pale teal dress with bustle that I (or is that Glenn Close?) wear this year, doing a scene with Jeremy Stiller as Asahel. I wrote the script, titled "'Til Death do us (Finally) Reconcile," and it's a lot of fun to do. He is quite handsome, and I wear a copper snood, plus a black lace thingey on my head, so my hair doesn't fly off in the bitter cold wind, and olive green gloves. Did I mention that it was cold out there? Kudos to the marvelous audiences, all bundled up and full of energy and joy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Fence

October begins with beauty!--blue sky, sunshine, breeze, the sweet scent of mown grass. And plenty of good news. And a bit of eeriness.

Nick McRae is the new poet up at Escape Into Life today, with eerie and wonderful art by Craig Hunter Parker. McRae's poems rhyme!

Sweet (as they say)! I have a poem in a new anthology: All of Us: Sweet: The First Five Years. I was very lucky to be among the poets in the first five years of Sweet, "a literary confection." The online magazine is here, and the anthology is here. And later in the year, I'll be in the Arsenic Lobster anthology, also sweet, with a touch of poison.

And this morning I was in the cemetery, rehearsing for this, the annual Evergreen Cemetery Walk presented by the McLean County Museum of History and Illinois Voices Theatre. I'll be there all week, as Mary Gridley, who did not get along all that well with her husband, Asahel Gridley, when he'd been drinking....

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Life is Like Beautiful Perfect Apple...

I was verklempt (Yiddish for "choked up with emotion") yesterday at the end of The Language Archive, the play I directed at Heartland Theatre

I felt it coming on as tears sprang to my eyes at every poignant moment in Act II, and then I was holding back tears at the end, all too aware (from childhood on) of what could happen next: immobility from sobbing. Sigh... It was a lovely experience, and August (rehearsals) and September (performances) have whizzed by the way time does when you are immersed in goodness.

This a beautiful perfect apple by Jonathan Koch, and it makes me think of Alta in the play saying, "My life is like beautiful perfect apple..." in a marital spat scene in which she continues, "and then you are WORM who come in and eat the rotten heart--," her husband, Resten, interrupting to point out the flaw in her metaphor, "YES, exactly--ROT-TEN HEART you have--" and the hilarity continues. I'm sure lines from the play will continue to come back to me for a good while.

And it's apple time, too. And I've seen pumpkins ripe in the fields. And some poems are ripening. And by the end of the week, I'll be immersed in the next theatre experience, the annual Evergreen Cemetery Walk. I'll be entangled in another marital spat, that of Mary and Asahel Gridley. Better go outside to work on my lines in the sunshine!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Harvest Begins

I took a short business trip to Chicago yesterday by train and got to see the beautiful yellows, greens, browns, rust, and lavender of early fall, striping the fields. On the way home, the corn was a day riper, a day crisper, and a slightly different (wheatier) shade of brown, and harvest has begun!

This fantastic corn, grasshopper, and moth art is by Andrea Kowch.

While I was there I discovered a new neighborhood downtown, just east of the Radisson Blu, that has sprung up since I've been gone (since 2000, that is). Gorgeous park, edged with roses, a fenced children's playground in the middle. Fancy wancy condos, organic grocery stores, a nail salon, restaurants, and boutiques encircle the park. Very pretty. If only I were fancy wancy (and rich).

But at least I am alive! (I dared to eat sushi again.) When I got home, I drove a wood splinter into my palm, so maybe I will die of that instead. In other news...
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