Monday, November 30, 2009

10 Years Ago, etc.

10 years ago: We were still adjusting to David’s death and the new family dynamic without David in it–and then the world blew up and Paul died too.

8 years ago: I started what was going to be (and may have been) my last diet. I was determined. I took up biking and over the next couple of years, I lost 85 lbs. But I couldn’t run fast enough and it all found me again.

6 years ago: I had my bike accident, quit my job and went to Australia.

2 years ago: My mother had her accident and I moved into her house to take care of her. This led to the start of Cousins Day, which has become one of the most fun things in my life today.

Five Yummy Things

1. Rost Leg of Lamb
2. Dungeness Crab
3. Creme Brulee
4. Pumpkin Pie
5. Gelato

Five Songs I Know By Heart

1. Over the Rainbow (of course)
2. I Dreamed a Dream (from Les Mis)
3. For Good (from Wicked)
4. Save Me a Seat (by Steve Schalchlin)
5. Eensy Weency Spider

...and several hundred – or possibly thousands – of other songs!

Five Places I'd Like To Escape To

1. Mt. Barker, W. Australia
2. Hanalei, Kauai
3. Mendocino, CA
4. Anywhere with an ocean view and wi fi :)
5. Arles, France

Five Things I'd Never Wear
(I think I got this meme from Bozoette Mary...and my answers match hers)

1. A thong
2. Stilettos
3. A panty girdle
4. Low-rise pants
5. A bikini

Five Favorite TV Shows

1. The Daily Show
3. The Good Wife
4. Criminal Minds
5. Monk

Five Things I Enjoy Doing

1. Writing
2. Taking photos
3. Cuddling the dogs
4. Playing on the Computer
5. Watching TV

Five Favorite Toys

1. iTouch
2. iPod
3. Digital camera
4. Flip Video
5. PhotoShop (is a computer program a "toy"?)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another 3-Show Weekend

Three show weekends used to be the exception; they are starting to become the norm at certain times of the year! (We even had a 3-show weekend in New York!)

Friday night we went to the opening performance of Sister's Christmas Catechism, at a cabaret theatre in Sacramento, across the street from the state capitol. The previous show at this cabaret, Sister's Late Night Catechism was very funny if you had a Catholic school education, but deadly dull if you didn't understand all the religious talk. Thus I loved it, my fellow reviewer hated it.

Fortunately, Christmas Catechism requires no background in the Catholic religion or any knowledge of the Baltimore catechism. It relies very heavily on audience participation, however, and I spent most of the show worried I would be called on (but I wasn't). The actress who plays "Sister" cut her acting chops at Chicago's Second City and has a very long background in improvisational theatre (and presumably this also includes the talent to recognize people who don't want to be recognized!)

The people sitting at the tables in front of us were very much into this whole thing, desperately wanted to participate, had brought cameras to record everything and must have been an actress' dream.

It wasn't until one of the group was called up on stage to become the Ox in CSI Bethlehem, which would attempt to discover whatever happened to the Maji's gold, that Walt realized who it was

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It was the son of my former boss, Ann Holke, who died a year ago. How I wanted to rush home and tell her that her son had been on stage in this silly Christmas pageant. He is known better as a detective for the Davis Police, one who was quite active in the hunt for the murderers of two students killed several years ago.

When the show was over, I told him that his mother would have been very proud of his performance....he said he was just glad he hadn't been selected to play the ass.

The nice thing about cabaret shows is that they are generally shorter than plot shows, so we were home in plenty of time to enjoy our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, that I had left cooling on the stove when we left.

NutW.jpg (45011 bytes)This evening we went to see a production of The Nutcracker, which I was not reviewing, oddly enough! I had interviewed the ballet teacher/choreographer for a feature article and she gave me tickets when I expressed interest in seeing it. Jeri used to study ballet with her and she has come a long way from the days when she sent home sheets of paper that said "mothers will make costumes," which always sent me into heart failure.

Around here when you think ofThe Nutcracker you more often than not think of an extravaganza cast with 200 kids under the age of 12, who get their roles by a lottery system and which bears only vague resemblance to the show that Tschaikovsky originally wrote. Fun, cute and all that, but not really "ballet."

Tonight's show was the "ballet" version and from everything I'd heard during my interview, I expected it to be more professional than it was. Oh, it's quite good -- a ginormous step up from the days when Jeri was dancing -- and the principal dancers are very good, but basically it's a ballet class production and so nothing is as polished as my article indicated. But the little kids were adorable, especially the ones who were really too young to dance and who were shepherded around the stage during the party scene by their mothers.

Somehow it just wasn't the same without the sugar plum that raises up on a genie lift, the big chair that Walt sat in for his 50th birthday party, and without the gnomes creeping around in fog low to the stage, the bolero dancers, the bakers, and a host of other categories they made up just to get kids into the show. Or without the masses of kids coming out on stage for the final bow!

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Tomorrow it is a Christmas pageant and I'm not sure how that's going to go, but I hope I sleep well tonight because I'm reviewing that one!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I did something today that probably nobody else reading this least not today. I baked a pumpkin pie, made stuffing, and cooked a turkey, Walt and I had a second Thanksgiving dinner before we went to a cabaret show in Sacramento.

Our Thanksgiving yesterday was OK. It was very nice to be with my mother, but it didn't seem right without other family around. With only one exception since I was born, Thanksgiving has always meant a big home cooked feast and lots of family around. When I was very young, it was at my grandparents'. The gathering always included my father's parents, my godfather and the four of us. The issue of celebrating with my mother's family was never an option, first of all because my maternal grandparents lived too far away (well, in the pre-highway days it was), and second, because my father didn't really like my mother's family and he felt he had a duty to his own parents, who never even owned a car throughout my entire life, until their death (odd, since my grandfather's career was as a parking lot attendant in downtown San Francisco!).

Eventually, when things got to be too much work for my grandmother, my mother took over cooking Thanksgiving dinner, in addition to Christmas dinner. When Walt and I started having kids we split holidays, so she would do Thanksgiving and I would do Christmas. When she left my father and moved in with Fred, she always had Thanksgiving with Fred's family and we would go to Tahoe with Walt's family.

When Walt's mother could no longer handle the high altitude of Lake Tahoe, we sometimes had dinner at our house, sometimes at my mother's house. We were lucky that there was never that family rivalry -- who gets the kids this year? -- to worry about, since Walt's family always got along well with mine, so they were always invited to my mother's house and she was always invited to the home of whoever in Walt's family was hosting a dinner.

Paul's death started the big change. The year David died, I couldn't handle Tahoe, so I cooked dinner and everyone came here. The next year I went to Tahoe and we took a big family picture because I realized how easily people could get lost. The year Paul died, I think everybody went back to Tahoe, but my mother (who no longer liked making that long drive) and I went to a restaurant.

But we now have lots of other family to consider. Marta's family, Laurel's family, and Phil's family and the siblings and in-laws that go along with those families. We have been amazingly fortunate to have so many years of having all the family together. Last year Tom, Laurel and Bri went to her family, Ned and Marta were with us, and we added Peach, Bob and their daughter Karen, so again we had a full table.

But this year Peach and Bob are with their kids, Ned & Marta were with Marta's family, I'm not sure where Tom & Laurel were, but I suspect with her family again. Walt's brother and his wife went to Santa Barbara to be with their mother. So that just left Walt, me and my mother to get together for Thanksgiving.

It seemed silly for my mother to cook a big dinner (which she would have done), so I suggested we go to a restaurant.

And we did. It was a buffet at a local hotel and it was OK, but none of us felt it was outstanding. My mother said nothing tasted right. My dark meat turkey was dry as sawdust and the cranberry sauce, which I'm sure was gourmet, wasn't the same as the Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce that I grew up with. The pumpkin pie was OK, but it had that store-bought taste to it.

We had a lovely time, but "dinner" was over by 2 p.m. Triptophan had kicked in by 2:30 and Walt and I both took naps, after which it was time to drive home and feed the dogs. Jeri had called earlier in the day, and Ned & Tom both sent messages around dinner time.

But it was sad to get up this morning and have no pumpkin pie for breakfast, and to have no turkey to fix for sandwiches at lunch, and no food to use to make my friend Dana Rae's turkey casserole, an annual "leftovers" staple in this house.

So I thought -- dammit! I'm going to cook a Thanksgiving dinner. And I did. Of course we still didn't have all the family here, but we had the dogs and then we have a show to get to, but when we get home from the show, I can pick on a bit of stuffing. In the morning there will be pumpkin pie for breakfast and I'm looking forward to my turkey sandwich tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Things You'll Never See in Davis

Wandering around New York over the weekend, I saw a few things that you'll never see in Davis. Some I took pictures of, and some I wasn't able to get. For one thing, while the country as a whole will "never forget" the tragedy of 9/11, in New York, "remembering" is almost militant, in a sadly touching sort of way. American flags sprout up in the most unexpected places, like the windows of buses or the backs of garbage trucks.

NYflag.jpg (39476 bytes)

Fire trucks sport memorials to members of their particular firehouse who were killed on 9/11.

As I said in a previous entry, everything in New York seems to be the biggest, the best, the most popular. But I sometimes am suspicious of the claims. For example, is this really New York's most popular BBQ restaurant?

NYBBQ.jpg (37705 bytes)

Purses are very big in New York. I can't believe that selling rip offs of designer bags can support so many hundreds of vendors.

NYbags.jpg (55687 bytes)

Of course I wouldn't mind a few street vendors selling hot dogs, hot pretzels or hot chestnuts on the streets of Davis, but it's not likely to happen. (Come to think of it you don't see any taxi cabs either!)

NYVendor.jpg (53023 bytes)

I've never seen this sign in Davis.

NYeyebrows.jpg (49961 bytes)

(What the heck is "eyebrow threading"? I'm sure someone will let me know.)

They don't feel the need to warn us about these things in Davis.

NYGunSign.jpg (71658 bytes)

I know I've never seen these guys in Davis!

NYLiveStatueFlag.jpg (55348 bytes)

I saw this guy (?girl) play-choking small children with the flag. That would be enough to give me nightmares for many years to come--and strike fear and terror in my heart at the sight of the Statue of Liberty for life!

But this has to be my favorite "you'll never see this in Davis" picture. Found on the side of a multi-story building across from our bus stop.

NYBedBugs.jpg (69718 bytes)

'nuff said!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Dozen Things to be Thankful For

This isn't officially a meme. It's just that I wanted to do something Thanksgiving-themed and this seemed the best way to do it.

1. I am thankful that I have a mother to celebrate the holiday with. I see so many her age or younger who are in such poor shape (or no longer with us!) and I am so grateful that I have been able to keep her in my life for so long.

2. I read such horror stories of families in turmoil, tips for how to handle holiday stress and I'm glad this has never really been a big problem for us. True, this year there are only three of us having dinner together, but all throughout our family life, when there have been periods of tension they have been minor and brief. We don't have anybody who isn't speaking to anybody or people that you can't sit next to someone else, or someone whose behavior we are afraid is going to embarrass us when/if we get together. It is one of my biggest pleasures watching how this family gets along and that if there are differences of opinion, they are quickly aired and then forgotten. We are so incredibly fortunate.

3. I am grateful that I have such a considerate and long-suffering husband who loves me through thick and thin and a lot of other things. He can be very patient and very considerate, more so than I, I think, and I love him for it.

4. I am grateful for the SPCA, which has brought such interesting experiences into our lives. I love all the puppies we get to love and watch grow up--and I'm grateful that they all eventually leave! I'm grateful for Ashley who goes above and beyond....way above and beyond, for all the dogs and for the volunteers as well. She is invaluable and I hope she knows how much we love her.

5. I'm grateful for the "stuff" in my life that I could live without, but don't have to -- The little rubber thing that peels a clove of garlic for me. My iPod Touch that has allowed me to read twice as many books this year as I read last year. The new griddle on my new stove. The TV remote control. The little cassette tape that allows me to play iPod stuff through the speakers in the car. Warm blankets and warm puppies. iPod apps. My big puffy slippers. Peets French Roast coffee. Caller ID.

6. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel so much more than I ever expected to in my life. I hear people say things like "I hope I'll have a chance to go to New York some day" or "I've always wanted to visit X, Y, Z..." and realize that I've been to those places, sometimes more than once, and I marvel at the whole thing. If I never travel any more in my life, I will die very happy that I have been to every place that I ever wanted to visit. Anything else would just be the cherry on top of an already very tall sundae!

7. Brianna! How could I get to #7 without mentioning Brianna. I am so grateful to have such a beautiful little granddaughter, who is, all too soon, turning into a wonderful little girl!

8. I am thankful for those extra special people in my life whom I love so much. For Steve and Ron. For Peggy, Lynn, Melody, Olivia, and Diane. For the incredible Pinata Group, for the Family We Chose, and for Section 16, and for the Internet which allowed me to make so many of what are now such valued real life friendships.

9. I am thankful for all the bloggers and vloggers, for the Facebook and Flickr people who have become, as someone's wife used to call "invisible friends" -- people I will probably never meet and who may not even know I exist, but whose lives I follow through their blogs, their vlogs, and their photos, and whose work often inspires me to be a better writer or a better photographer...or even a better cook!

10. I am thankful for Diana Gabaldon and Michael Connelly.

11. I am thankful for all the actors and directors who have made this past year so special. Leading the pack would have to be Jim Brochu, whose performance I would love even if I didn't already know him as a real friend. But there are those wonderful local people like actors Matt K. Miller from Sacramento Theatre Company and Stephanie Gularte from Capital Stage, director Jade McCutcheon at UCD, and actor Kevin Caravalho from both Woodland Opera House and Davis Musical Theatre Co. Then there are Lenore and Gil Sebastian, whom we seem to know from everywhere, who always make theatrical experiences memorable, and Steve and Jan Isaacson, whom we have known forever, to say nothing of too-many-to-name Lamplighters.

12. I am grateful, in advance, for the things that I know are coming up in the new year -- getting to know my "Compassion Kids" better through letters and photos. Working with Davis Community Network's Anne Hance and the Senior Center Internet Users' Group (a new experience I will start in January). Starting the new Lamplighter History project (let's see if this makes the "things I'm grateful for" next year!). And for new experiences yet to be anticipated.

On the whole, to quote John Denver, "Life is so good these days..." There are things that I would change, of course, but given how things are at this particular moment in time, I am content -- and "content" is a pretty good place to be.

I hope everyone reading this either will have or is having or had a very good Thanksgiving and that you, too, are "content" in your life at the moment.

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen thoughts about Thanksgiving

1. I hate that it's not the same as it was when the kids were younger
2. Dark meat turkey is the best
3. Whole cranberry sauce is OK, but I prefer jellied
4. I don't like olives, but the table doesn't look right without them.
5. Make two pumpkin pies, even though we won't eat them, because then there will be leftovers.
6. I wish my mother remembered how to make her stuffing. It hasn't tasted right in years.
7. Even if the family is scattered on Thanksgiving, the ones I feel the loss of most are David and Paul.
8. Nobody sets a beautiful table better than my mother.
9. I fail to see the appeal of that damn traditional green bean casserole
10. A raw egg adds nothing to mashed potatoes, despite with Walt's Uncle Ernie said
11. I really miss the Thanksgivings we used to have at Lake Tahoe.
12. I miss Uncle Fred because he always brought a 2 lb box of Sees candy.
13. I don't usually eat too much at dinner, but boy do I gorge on leftovers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Oh THAT's What Sleep is Like

We have returned from New York. We were back in the house by 1, my journal entry from yesterday was posted by 2, and I was in the recliner by 3 sound asleep until 9 p.m., when I awoke to a quiet house--Walt had already gone to bed! I had more sleep during my "nap" than I've had in one shot since I left Davis! I am reborn. I'm also ready to go back to sleep for the night. This is good!

It had been a miserable night. I just don't know what it is with me and beds. The bed seemed to be very comfortable, but I was in agony at 1 a.m., despite having put a pillow at my back to give it support. I was wide awake sitting in the room's chair with my legs elevated on the bed and trying to listen to an audio book, and then music, hoping I'd fall back asleep.

I finally got up at 4 and used that high tech shower and got ready to leave for the airport.

We met a lot of airline personnel at the 5:15 shuttle. One guy, seeing Walt wearing a blue shirt, mistook him for a fellow employee and got very chatty until Walt acted confused when he asked if Walt had ever "overnighted at La Guardia before." Then he realized Walt was just a dumb shmuck taking the shuttle to the airport!

We were so glad that we had only brought carry-on luggage. The lobby was a mass of wall to wall people, all snaking through check-in lines like kids on opening day at Disneyland. We checked in electronically, sailed right through to the security check-in and then to the concourse with an hour and a half to spare. Time enough for a pastry and some yogurt from Au Bon Pain.

This is the biggest travel week of the year and so both of our flights were "extremely full" (I'm wondering what is the difference between "full" and "extremely full"!)

It was good that we had time for breakfast at La Guardia because there wasn't even food to purchase on the first leg of the trip, from NY to Chicago.

We transferred to a larger plane in Chicago, with less room to sit. The economy seats are ridiculous. You already sit with the chair in front of you practically in your lap--and then the person in that chair decides to recline the seat. Oh you can have "more leg room" for more money--but it's not all that much more room....not worth the extra money.

They did have food on this flight, for a fee. I love the "snack boxes" that they sell to you for some exorbitant amount of money. It's like they go to a sample snack warehouse and pick up a bunch of stuff and toss it willy nilly into miscellaneous boxes. What I had for lunch was two kinds of crackers, potato chips, cookies, cheese spread, and jelly beans. To have something with some sort of nutritional goodness, I had tomato juice to go with it. Since I am unable to put the tray table down in front of me, for lack of space, I had to balance the tomato juice can in one corner of the box that the food came in, balanced on top of my coat, which was in my lap because there was no room in the overhead compartments. And of course, as Walt pointed out, all the foods came in sealed containers that you can't cut open because you can't bring sharp objects on the plane with you!

I was sitting on the aisle watching the in-flight movie, "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince," and at a crucial moment, the woman at the window had to go to the bathroom, which was a major undertaking, since the snack cart was in the aisle and the woman in front of me was relaxing her chair. I'm just glad that the window woman only had to get up once during the flight. I missed crucial parts of the movie, dammit.

But the most important part was that we reached the Sacramento airport "uneventfully" (I always love "uneventful" flights!). The Sacramento airport has two terminals and we had left on Northwest Airlines in one terminal, and had parked in the garage attached to that terminal, but we flew in on United, at the other terminal, so we had to take a bus from one to the other. I was really tired of packing luggage so Walt took the bus and left me sitting in the shade (warm in Sacramento) while he want to get the car. Good Walt!

We stopped at the post office on the way home, to pick up the mail we had held, and then came home to five dogs, only a different five. Higgins was gone, but his sister, Betty was here. She's also bigger than Freddie. I haven't really had time to get to know her since I went to sleep so soon after getting home!

We had such a great time in New York...but I can only take New York in small doses, so the briefness of the visit was part of why I enjoyed myself so much.

It's good to be back home again.

Pictures from the trip are on Flickr.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gettin' Outta Dodge

Looks like we are leaving town while the gettin' is good. Weather report says that weather will be fine for flying until perhaps tomorrow evening.

We are ensconced in the Marriott Hotel with a lovely view of LaGuardia airport, from which we will fly in the morning at 6 a.m. Of course you won't know this until I get home because this hotel has no wi fi and will rent me high speed connection for only $18. I don't think so. So I'll write this journal and post it when I get home (unless I have time and opportunity to do it at the airport). Fortunately, for anybody who worries, I posted a message to that effect to both Twitter and Facebook. (Except Ron just called to say that what I thought was "the hotel has no wi fi" actually said "the hotel has no weh." Owell! I tried!)

We've had a lovely day. Weather was not as nice as it has been up to today, but I never had to wear those Isotoner gloves I bought and most of the time I haven't even needed a coat (though I did today).

We got all packed up this morning and left our luggage at the Colonial Inn hotel while we went back up to Times Square. We had tickets for the 2 p.m. show at Radio City Music Hall. Walt went to check on whether we needed to pick up actual tickets (we didn't) and then we went back to Rockefeller Center to the eating areas overlooking the ice rink.

I watched the Zamboni clean off the ice.

Amy tells me that frequently this happens just when a man is about to propose to a woman and given that after a couple of circles of the rink this couple posed for a group of photographers at one edge of the rink, I'm going to assume that they are now congratulations, you guys, whether it's true or not!

We finally left the ice rink and went back to Radio City. I had no idea where our seats were and was pleasantly surprised.

Considering that this is the largest theatre in the world, seating nearly 6,000 people. sitting in the 14th row is just great (plus, I also had the outside seat, with room to stretch out my leg.

Everything in New York seems to be self-proclaimed biggest, best, most famous, favorite, or whatever self-aggrandizing label they can put on it. But this theatre may actually deserve the labels. And the show is a real spectacle with 3-D effects...

...a bus tour of NYC, flying effects, many Santas, the mighty Wurlitzer x2, The Nutcracker, lots of Rockettes, and the incongruous addition of a living nativity scene, complete with camels and sheep ("the camels do not play well with others," our tour guide told us yesterday!) I think the best way to describe this show say it's indescribable! You hadda been there.

They say that you can't use flash photography or record anything at the show, but even our guide laughed at that, and flashes were popping off all over the place. I didn't take flash pictures, but I did take a few pictures to get the flavor of the thing.

(now isn't this what you expect to see with Santas,
the Nutcracker, and high kicking Rockettes?)

When the show was over, we wended our way slowly back to the hotel to collect our luggage. We had them call a cab (turns out it was a sort of town car) to drive us here to the Marriott, where we will remain overnight until we take the shuttle to the airport at 5:15 a.m. It place may not have wifi, but the bathroom is bigger than the room we've had for the past 3 nights, I need a manual to figure out the shower, and flushing the toilet is an experience...I'm just sayin'.

I've been to New York several times and rarely have a good impression of it. Something always seems to go wrong. But this trip has been a delight. The whole thing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Thrill of First Nighting

What a great day it was, start to finish. In truth, when I first got up, I was a little disappointed that I had suggested going to Ellis Island today (and that Walt had agreed to it). Though I had slept better that still didn't mean well and all I really wanted to go back to sleep. So I did. After breakfast, I came upstairs, laid down on the bed and by the time Walt got upstairs, I was asleep. I slept (he tells me) about an hour and a half. But when I woke up, I felt raring to go and so off we went to Battery Park and from there to Ellis Island.

It was a glorious fall day.

Though the "living statues of Liberty" were enough to give the creeps to anybody!

We boarded the ferry and for awhile it was so crowded I thought we were never going to see the real Statue of Liberty clearly, since we were only going to Ellis Island, but we did finally pass by, after lots of folks got off on Liberty Island.

We had about an hour at Ellis Island (barely enough time to scratch the surface) but were glad we had come. Walt tried to look for his grandmother and I looked for my great grandmother.

Eventually we got the ferry to take us back to Battery Park, where we ran into some acrobatic break-dancers.

We took the bus back up town and walked over to Joe Allen's restaurant, where we were meeting my friend Ron for dinner. I decided Joe Allen's is an in joke. It's a show-bizzy place, with the walls lined with posters of Bdwy shows...but, as Ron started telling me about them, all the posters seem to be of shows the flopped. Badly.

It was so good to see Ron. He's one of my favorite people, and one of several very good things to come out of my years with CompuServe. I haven't seen him in about five years and, though we communicate on Facebook a lot, it was nice to see him in the (considerably less) flesh.

The restaurant was only a block from the Theatre at St. Clements, where Zero Hour is playing and we got there in plenty of time.

This was the main event--the reason we'd flown 3000 miles. I couldn't NOT be here to be supportive of Jimmy...and, let's face it, personally experience the accolades I knew he was going to get.

Ron was proud of me. I popped out from behind that potted palm I hide behind all the time and actually walked up to and introduced myself to Piper Laurie (who directed Zero Hour). She was very nice.

The show was fabulous. So much tighter than the last time(s) I'd seen it. He had amazing audience response (of course this was an audience of friends!). But the response was well earned.

When it was all over, we were all invited to the "after party" at Sardi's ... probably my only opportunity to ever have that experience.

...and the rest is just a bunch of photos to capture and remember the moment....

Piper Laurie

Steve chats with Robert Osborne (of Turner Classic Movies)

90 Year Old Marge Champion

Brian Childers (Hi, Brian!) and Kimberley Faye Greenberg
of Danny and Sylvia
standing on either side of set designer Josh Iacovelli.

We finally find Jimmy in the crowd.

Steve with Theodore Bikel, who had his own
show to do, but came to the party afterward.
He had been a friend of Zero Mostel's and thought
Jimmy's performance was spot-on.

Steve with Michele Mais, the original Tricia
in The Last Session, who is now on Broadway
doing Rock of Ages.

We had bus passes that were going to turn into pumpkins if we didn't get into the Metro quickly, so we didn't linger, but it was just a magical night and I hope nothing but the best for Zero Hour because Jim has certainly earned it!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Autumn In New York

I sat here in the lobby of the hotel yesterday morning and watched the sun rise on the tree outside the window and thought how lovely that we are experiencing, as my friend Ron put it, "a glorious autumn."

It had not been a good night, bed-wise and I was up with stabbing back pains at 2:30, finally giving up and coming downstairs at 5 to read.

Walt lazed about in bed until a good 7 or so and finally came down and joined me for breakfast here in the hotel, then we started on our day of exploration.

My friend Lynn (Houston) was here for a weekend with a group of friends and we had made plans to meet her and go to lunch, so we took the bus up to Times Square and waited by the George M. Cohan statue. They are preparing for the big Macy*s Thanksgiving parade already and there were bleachers set up and barricades ready to be put into place at the right time.

It was so good to see Lynn.

We went, en masse, to a Mediterranean restaurant called "Dervish." One of her group, a woman named Jo, had traveled to Turkey several times, teaching students about neonatal intensive care, so she loved Mediterranean food and she was invaluable in ordering, as well as communicating with the waiter.

We ordered several appetizers and three entrees and all was more than enough.

The dolmas were the best that I'd ever had...I could have made a meal on those alone (and I'm not a big fan of dolmas!).

As we sat and visited, the background noise got louder and louder. When Lynn's friend Kerm complained to the waiter, he was told that there was a very important soccer match going on, so we understood and just put up with the noise (later, as we walked thru the front part of the restaurant, we realized that there were big screen TVs there and lots of Turkish-looking people very involved in the game).

Jo told us a lot about traveling in Turkey, so now I'm all enthused about going and hoping that our proposed trip will actually happen at some point.

After lunch, we said goodbye to Lynn et al. They were off to see a show, and we were off for a tour of Radio City Music Hall. We got tickets for the 2 p.m. tour, which gave us half an hour to kill, so we walked up to Rockefeller Plaza to see the big Christmas tree, which is being decorated for a December lighting. I never knew how they decorated that tree and it was actually quite interesting.

There were men on each of the levels of scaffolding around the tree, shaping it by trimming off extraneous branches and putting on lights. The star on the left there will go on the top of the tree.

We also stopped to watch the ice skaters.

We finally returned to Radio City Music Hall, where we had a fascinating backstage tour (and where I climbed more stairs that I think I did in Europe -- minus those 300 stairs down to Portovenere).

The walls backstage are lined with movie posters.

We watched the finale of the show that we are seeing on Sunday from a viewing booth, watched a film about the building, its history and its technical aspects (most of which I have now forgotten, but it was fascinating), and "Merrell," one of the Rockettes talked about costumes and what it's like to be a Rockette.

When we left there, I was ready to sit down somewhere, so I sat down by a fountain across the street from Radio City while Walt did some walking around. I sat there watching it get darker and getting colder.

We discovered that a cell phone is pretty much useless in this town. There is so much noise that you can't hear it ring. I called Steve, he called me twice, I called Walt, he called me and none of us heard any of the rings, but we got a lot of "missed calls. I still haven't actually spoken with Steve.

We tried to decide whether we were going to hang around downtown or go back to the hotel before our 8 p.m. show, but it was too early and too cold to find a place to stay for 3 hours, so we came back to the hotel. I chose not to climb the 40 stairs to the room, but sat in the lobby and read for awhile until it was time to leave to go back and find some dinner and the theatre.

I have to say that Walt has been just fantastic, parking me someplace and going to find the closest bus stop or a metro station with an elevator. I've given up even feeling guilty about it...I'm just feeling grateful!

We had tickets for Danny and Sylvia, a show about Danny Kaye, starring the amazing Brian Childers as Danny Kaye and Kimberley Faye Greenberg as his wife, Sylvia Fine.

First we stopped off at Famiglia, self-described as "New York's Favorite Pizza." It's a little hole in the wall, and I laughed at the description, but since it was wall to wall people trying to get pizza and since the pizza we had was delicious, the description may just be right!

We got to St. Luke's Theatre (lots of churches seem to double as theatres) for the show. We were about the first to arrive and while we were waiting two different groups came in looking for Zero Hour, to be directed to the St. Clement's Theatre, one block away. In truth, during the evening, I heard several different groups discussing Zero Hour, which I figured was a good sign!

The Danny Kaye show was delightful and Childers nicely captured the Danny Kaye I remember so fondly. We had front row center tickets, which I wondered about when we saw clearly that Childers is a "spitter," but no globules landed on the audience, so we just enjoyed the show.

Then back to the hotel. By the time we got here, I was too tired to climb up to the room, so I sat for about half an hour downstairs and tried to read, but was too sleepy. When I finally dragged myself upstairs I did something I have never done before--at least not in recent memory. I walked in the door, collapsed on the bed and declared I was too tired to write this journal entry. I think I was asleep within 5 minutes.

Of course I was up a couple of times with back pain and got up to come down here to the lobby at 5:30, but all things considered, I feel more rested this morning and not nearly as sore as I was last night.

And tonight we finally attend opening night of Zero Hour.

Oh...and Ashley says Higgins got adopted yesterday!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hello from the Big Apple

21 November 2009

We have arrived, after a long day. Travel days are always long. It began very early. We planned to leave at 4. I was so afraid I'd oversleep that I didn't get to sleep until after 1 and then woke up at 3:30, a few minutes before the timer on the stove went off.

We got the dogs fed. Even they seemed to wonder what I was doing feeding them in the middle of the night.

(this may be the last picture of Higgins!)

Fortunately, we were only 3 blocks away when I realized I'd left my coat at home. After weeks of worrying about the weather and I leave the coat I'd decided would work at home. The dogs thought we were prowlers and set up barking when we pulled back into the driveway.

Finally, we were on the road and found out that if you need to be where the action is in Sacramento airport at 5 a.m., just go to the Sacramento airport! We had a plane change in Minneapolis and both flights were full, so we sat in separate rows. They gave us 2 cookies on the first leg and the teeniest bag of peanuts you've ever seen on the second. Fortunately, I had brought granola bars.

We had a l-o-n-g gate change to make and about 10 minutes to do it in, so it was very good that one of those airport tram cars showed up and we gratefully accepted the offer of a ride. I was sorry that we had no time because they had a lot of really interesting looking shops that would have been fun to browse. And all the people on the speakers sounded like my friend Mary.

At the gate while we were waiting to board, there was a couple there with a Boxer puppy who looked so much like Freddie, except that this puppy (whom they had just picked up that day and who didn't even have a name yet) was only 8 weeks old and nowhere close to Freddie's size (though they guesstimate that he will probably be 70 lbs when fully grown). The puppy fit in a carrier that went under the seat and I thought of how much easier it would have been if we had been able to get Lester to Jeri & Phil when she was that size!

I was worried about the NY leg of the trip because there was a child, who sounded like s/he must have been somewhere between 12-18 months old, who screamed nonstop for about 10 minutes, but finally did fall asleep.

We began to come into New York. I was fortunate that I was on the left side of the plane, the view side, though I'm not sure this picture of the statue of Liberty was worth it!

But this one made up for what I didn't get of the Statue of Liberty.

By the time we actually landed, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset.

The first store we passed on our way from the plane to outside was a book store with this display in the window.

We took a cab in to the hotel, the same hotel where we stayed when we were last here, to see The Big Voice: God or Merman. I was sad to see that it no longer flew a rainbow flag out in front, and wonder if the ownership has changed. But it's a convenient location even if I have to climb two v-e-r-y long flights of stairs to get to our room.

The cab ride was interesting. We saw a TV billboard for some weight loss program, and the TV in the back of the cab was showing commercials like an ad for Regis & Joy Philbin's new album and one of which was a notice letting New Yorkers know that if you have past due citations for things like defiling a building, not picking up garbage, etc, the city will give you a pass on the penalties for the next couple of months. I felt like a real hick from the sticks even noticing this stuff.

We were both starving, so after we settled into our room, we wandered up 8th Street and found a nice Thai place to eat, where we started with a delicious shrimp and crab appetizer.

After dinner we came back to the hotel and Walt was very nice and went upstairs to bring my computer down for me. I'm doing my journal and he is out taking a walk around the neighborhood--we are both doing things that we love!

It's only 6 p.m. California time, but I'm fading quickly and will be going up to our room soon and try to get a little sleep,.