life is about to get full
it has already been full
tomorrow we start rehearsals for Peter Pan. When I say We I really mean WE this time - I have a part, a speaking part, and I have not done anything like this since I decided in high school my safe and happy place was in the scene shop or working with the lights. So In fact I was probably 16, so a solid 40 years. I was angling for Capt. Hook, but the director wants to do that, or wants me to pay attention to the props/tech issues I have been paying attention to, or both, but when I said I'd play Smee, he agreed. I was kind of shocked when I reread the script, because I have actual lines, and plot points. I thought mostly I would be saying "yes, boss" and offering to fight people.
Peter Pan rehearsals are non-stop this week and next, The Great Race of the Tortoise and the Hare (that ends in a near riot of shrieking children and a photo finish) travels and has the final three performances in Turners Falls in a fabulous old theater that we have inadequate audience for, and then strikes, returns to Williston and we start tech on Peter Pan. It is a whirl wind. I am highly amused.
I took my most recent work to Brattleboro for some coaching or critiquing or encouragement or something from one of my all-time favorite teachers. She said kind and useful things, but said I needed a coach and connector - someone to help me get my foot into the fine arts world from a more crafty starting point. So I have a name for a coach who works with artists. I also, on Lydia's say-so, found the fanciest gallery in Brattleboro and introduced myself and offered to show her one piece of work even though you should never do that. It was kind of funny. I did everything (EVERYTHING) wrong, from showing up, with my work in hand, to having no card (I cannot BELIEVE I was that uncoordinated) and she kept saying yes, we don't usually do this but yes, and let me see that one too... So I have been invited to submit my info via email which means I have to get more formal photos of the work first, and then shuffle together the info and formats they want and get it out. I have to admit I am holding the memory of that interaction very very close, and pulling it out when I get distressed about other things.
Oh and also she asked what i called what I do. I said I called it stitched textile work, but my daughter called it mutant quilts, and she Cracked Up and said that was fabulous and I should go with that...
I made everyone come see Ghostbusters with me yesterday. Alice and her friend M cackled though the whole thing, as did I. Aerin was entertained, and had some pointed things to say about graphing their data. Al was ... almost dismissive? And I don't actually care much. Because I have been to a movie that was pandering to meeeee, and it was glorious, and also I have a MAD crsh on Kate McKinnon, along with pretty much everyone else as far as I can tell, and I shall have to take up dancing with propane torches. And the combined beauty and stupidity of their secretary was amazing, and gratifying. And theMRA spouting Red Pill redditor, which was hilarious. And there was no romance. And the leads were all older than 30, and I think three of them were older than 40. I think I am just not going to argue with Al over this. It absolutely isn't worth it.
And then tonight I ahd supper with Red Kate because itwas a Tuesday night hike and I wasn't hiking and I hadn't seen her in aaaages so we pizza for supper and she made me an entire quart of lemonade which I drank all of (!?!) and we talked about guys living as women for a month, and I said longer because they sould have to menstruate more than once,just to understand the relentlessness of it,and we cackled, and decided maybe six months. Kate needs a loom wth actual metal gears on it, because she is having tension issues on her current loom. It has to be frustrating to be working against your tools.
I ahve hacked my bed and put a little piece of support in the middle of my back, just above my hips that seems to be helping me sleep straighter and I can go longer before I wake up sore. Sleeping is gorgeous.
Props are almost done for the next piece of childrens' theater, the Great Race of the Tortoise and the Hare. I've been Instagramming them, because it cross-posts to fb, and we need publicity. I'l spend some time tomorrow getting life organized backstage and figuring out how to get set up and taken down for each rehearsal until Friday. And also streamlining the process of shifting the production from one theater to another for the second weekend. The load-in is fast enough except for flying the screen. And I am collecting cables so we have three different ways to connect the projector to whatever laptop we have on hand, because that was a very very very bad hour when the projector would not connect to the notebook it had been talking to for the last week. It took a new cable to make that work, and that is just wrong.
I am too hot and tired and my hips hurt when I wake up and they hurt enough to wake me up around 4am, but once I sit up and stand up and start to walk around they get better, so it is not all misery, just some misery. Also hot. Did I say hot? I am fatter than usual, and it makes me hotter and stupider than usual, and I sweat when I walk and then I drip and it gets in my eyes and stings and fuck. My ankle is better though. Four weeks yesterday and I am stomping to town and back on the regular, and sweating like crazy cakes, and also (ahem) catching Pokemons which... is not what I expected.
I am also sulking, artistically speaking. I have been turned down for six or seven things in a row, and stuff I made for a particular venue in the fall didn't sell there, so it feels very dismissive. And because Aerin is home and sort of asleep in the room next to my studio with a non-functioning door, I have been hesitating to work, so the whole place is silted in and I can't get to anything, and I hate everything in it. To my deep aggravation I have even been turned down for two local things that I should have been a slam dunk for. So there's that. Also it is hot in my room.
What I have been doing is working with the local children's theater (for, not with) which is a good time, if a little wearing. I seem to be the tech consultant, and I find and make all the props. We are doing three shows, two of which have to go into a truck and travel, so a huge part of my work has been to retrofit an ancient three flat system to a more readily portable three flat system by adding hinged jacks to the edges, and then devising some way to hold the three flats together and then fixing and mending and improving two doors and two flaps on a window. There are a lot more magnets, and some latches that are making things more stable.
So yeah, um, Pokemon. I never played before. If you have opinions, let me know. I am still on level 4, so I haven't had to choose a color? side? thing yet. Amanda says Blue, like all self-respecting humans and since I have no other input that'll probably work for me. But I kind of like walking around and "finding" things, and after losing a solid half dozen balls and at least one Pokemon I figured out how to get them. I went for a walk around the block last night, and there were a lot of stars, but no Pokemons. I mean, I have a bunch now, and I feel kind of rich.
Last year when I went to Monhegan I took paint, and canvas, and spent the entire time trying to get what I saw onto the canvas in some way. I have more paint now, but less motivation, and I am thining I might take a crochet hook and some yarn and a book and see if I can figure out how to make some of those adorable tiny amigurumi guys that are EVERYWHERE. Also please excuse capslock, I ahve been too long on fb where there is no other form of emphasis.
I was frankly dubious about going to the cookout/memorial for a family friend, but I rememberd him fondly from my youth and with the loan of an automatic shift car (Aerin took the adorable blue thing to see her young man) I ventured into the wilds of (further) western Massachusetts. (Ankle: still broken, working better, still can't shift)
I am so glad I did. Where Uncle Tom's party was a delicate dance of sympathy and cousins and navigating my mother's conflicting senses of propriety and humor, this one was about someone more distant, making it easier and ... softer somehow. To my delight there were two key people from my youth, like really - I was six - that meant the world to me.
Did you love one or two of your parent's friends? I was so lucky, that my parents were convivial, and well located, and in a big enough house that we had what seemed like a steady flow of people though the house. I think also that I loved easily and thoroughly when I was a child, and some of that has persisted. Two men old enough to be my father, and I was SO pleased to see them. I think it must be hard to look at friend's children and see them as adults, as parents themselved - it takes a special kind of imagination and memory to find the child who worshipped you in the ernest adult standing in front of you. Although I guess the flip side of that is watching anyone age.
I was pleased tht I managed to stand up and tell a story about the friend in question. It was a nice story. My mother was sitting next to me shaking her head muttering that was not the person she remembered. He was a trickster, a coyote, always on the edge of some giant joke that you might be the butt of, or might just as easily be the hero in. It could be confusing. Most of the stories failed to mention that. I think we want to speak well of the dead, for all kinds of reasons.
in other related but unexpected news, I managed to sit next to the most amazing people, and had nice and intelligent conversations for all the rest of the afternoon. That was delightful, and I have an invitation to come and see the farm and the horses and the dogs... which I am looking forward to. She said she invited me becase she liked my smile, and liked the way I was pleased to see my mother, and my mother is a sweetie. Which she is. I even had a seet short visit with my mum, before she had to head back to her visitors. Tomorrow she has another memorial, which I wish I could get to.
I am, in retrospect, astoundingly lucky in my parent's friends.
I was trying SO HARD guys - SO hard - to get off the couch and get stronger with the secret plan, ultimately, of intiving myself to see Hannah and hiking with pups in the Whites, and on Day fucking 4, on the way home with coffee and new yarn, I stepped in a hole on a shortcut from one piece of sidewalk to another and rolled my ankle and now it is actually (the xrays say) broken at the tip end of the fibula. So fuck that, I am hobbling for a couple weeks and the whole try to get better at walking thing is on hiatus. I did not spill my coffee, or lose my new yarn or needles. But still.
That was my Wednesday, and most of Thursday was lunches and suppers with friends and seeing the Dr to ascertain if I should be doing more (or less) than Uncle Google told me to do for sprains. It hurts less than it used to, and I am blissfully free of casts and applying a support only if I go out into the world and have to hobble. I am so grateful for Aerin being home, and having a car she can use to drive me about. I am doubly, triply, unspeakably grateful to her for her kindness and patience and humor with this process. I don't know why I expected anything less, she is a fabulous child, and reared well with kindness, but the level of it is just ... it makes me cry with gratitude and relief.
So Alice and Aerin both have been helping me and handing me things and telling me to sit down again and just take it easy until things hurt less.
When Aerin was little she'd practice "driving" me places at the playground. She'd load me into the back seat, and make sure my seatbelt was clicked in so I'd be safe, and we'd drive forever, she'd tell me about the scenery and we might stop for a donut, but it took me a while to realize it was a perfect mirror of how her life went. I was so relieved that what she felt was the affection, and the interest in her and the delights of the scenery, that what I had for frustration and impatience was not so readily visible and not what was making an impression on her.
Children are a perfect mirror. What they show you is all your kindness and all your faults, and in the hardest possible way. She is old enough now that the things she reflects are no long all things that I installed, but at age 3, all the things she was demonstrating were things I had done to and with her. And the relief I felt was palpable; that she was having a happy childhood, that I was not crushing her spirit or breaking her, that she knew she was both loved and cared for and showed me these things in her play.
So yeah, on the one hand there is the tendency to see our own shortcomings most clearly, to be hardest on ourselves, and on the other is this feeling that I am reaping some of the childrearing I sowed, twenty-odd years ago, and it will be ok. Getting older will be ok. The children becoming adults - that will be ok too.
So that happened. That is Alice, the younger one. She is the one whose mental processes I recognize intimately - the urge to make things, the affection for, pretty much, everyone, the animals, the stuffies, the willingness to balance for a long time with one foot solidly rooted in childhood, the other equally solidly rooted in good sense far beyond her years.
The picture is from a friend because we (a total of 9, counting my mother and friends who are basically aunt, uncle and cousin) were all in the balcony over her left soulder. so yeah, no photos because secnd child syndrome, and also that is just not what I am thinking about at these things. I managed to deflect a LOT of weeping by hollering and clapping for every tech and theater child I knew, every friend of Alice's I knew, every child of friends that I knew, and any child who looked like the process might have been hard. At the end I was hoarse and my hands hurt, but it was pretty gratifying.
And then we went away through the rain to the cellar of Paradiso, and turned off the music and turned up the lights and fed the fainting people appetizers and Miriam (Alice's boon companion on the Rome to Athens trip, and taker of photos while Alice was chronicler of tales) and her parents (English Lit and Art History professors at Smith - the child looked SO NATURAL in her robe and mortar board) joined us and it was lovely.
And then I spent today doing Not One Thing except having coffee with a friend, which was good, and I bumped into someone else on the walk to the coffee and that was also good. Alice says I fell asleep sitting up at my computer again. Which is getting less disturbing the more I do it.
The trouble with a Really Big Day is that it is also Just Another Day and that tightrope of anticipation and delight and significange has to be negotiated and people are constantly CONSTANTLY asking you(me) HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS and the answer is generally - can I get back to you on that? So I think today was dedicated to feeling things. Tomorrow I will take my dad to lunch and then attempt to find some kind of rhythm for the summer.
Saturday evening Great Kate came out, and Sunday she and Red Kate and I went up to see sheep and sheep dogs and yarn and fabric and roving and shearing and all things sheepy and wooly. It was kind of overwhelming for me, and cements my personal feeling that I should never ever ever ever go to Rhinebeck because it is all lovely and all different and all the same. I mean, all charming and lovely too - so many lovely things to look at, and think about, so many friendly sheep, looking like muppets, bellowling or blapping, more or less ready to be patted or scratched behind the ears. So so SO many charming human beings offering helpful advice and conversation about sheep and wool and yarn and all the things that make them happy and presumably us as well.
I found a skein of sock yarn in a colorway called "you are going to be just fine" which made me kind of moist around the eyes so I bought it as a talisman against the future. I wound it into a center pull ball today with only a single tangle at the very end which feels like a good omen.
Great Kate and I left Red Kate happily spinning while protesting that she couldn't spin, and went along to a pique nique in celebration of the end of school for all concerned, organized by Aerin's boyfriend's mother who is charming. Aerin and her young man brought the yellow boat up and had a sail around the pond, someone I didn't know (to my chagrign) showed up with something with a heartbreakingly lovely shearline and two places for rowers and rowed across the pond and back. It looked like what we used to call the Famiy Yacht - a 14' Whitehall fiberglass replica that could hold three or four plus a well stocked picnic basket, and one or two could row. We took that all over Woods Hole and surrounding islands, in some moderate weather even - it was solid and glorious fun.
Great Kate ambled home that afternoon, and today has been spent by us having headaches and naps, in relays, all day long. Not necessarily at the same time. either the headaches, or the naps, or at the same time as any one else is having them.
that went far better than I hoped.
The celebration of Uncle Tom's life was Friday evening at the yacht club, an institution of spit and polish, varnish and excessive drinking since 1871. A solid percentage of the men had had pink pants that were later explained to be Nantucket Red which is a yachting color, and there was a Great Deal of soutache braid in elaborate patterns on all the men (no women, they were relegated to social secretaries) who were currently or had ever been Commodore (that would be president, for us landlubbers). We were late because my brother and family got caught in Maine traffic, and Anne was getting tightly wound and exasperated by the time we arrived. Many people said wonderful things about Uncle Tom, organized and hustled along by my cousin, his son Nat. As cousin Abby pointed out, she knew less than half the people there from her childhood, because her parents, particularly her father, had gone on doing other things; adopting new hobbies, new causes and new friends as he went along.
My kids were grand, my husband kind and presentable, everyone stayed as long as they could before they melted. Al and the girls headed home, I went back to Anne's house and hung out with cousins and my brother for a while and then to my mother's and slept.
This morning we were sternly told to be present at the yacht club well in advance of the 11 o'clock departure of the boat. We presented ourselves, as required, and waited.... to discover that our boat was on the wrong side of the railroad bridge, which would't go up, and the boat couldn't go under until the tide went down a little. So we waited. It was a nice place to wait. It was a dock. There were pretty boats in the harbor. The sun was shining. The wind was blowing. Eventually the boat showed up, and we all chose a flower or two and went aboard. We powered out to Newcomb Ledge, and said some kind things and scattered Tom's mortal remains over the side along with the flowers. The giant pink and white peonies floated and looked lovely on the sea.
I think everyone relaxed some after that and talked a little more freely as we headed back. When we landed we all went back to Anne's again, and had more food, and then started saying goodbye to everyone, over and over and over, walking around and around and promising to meet up again. We probably won't, but it might be worth saying we might.
Warren Zevon never looked hard enough at his mother to write my song,
he stuck with Excitable Boy,
he who commited murder and was horrific,
and completely missed
the one where the old witch woman sits in the back yard
cackling over a fire pit of bones and sticks
roasting marshmallows and pretending they are birds
toasting bread, letting butter melt down her elbows
greasy and mad
rolling her eyes
shaved her head
watching the young roll by
a witch by definition is still
an old woman
a hut with chicken legs is starting to look pretty good
a couple of cats
a nice dog
plenty of room to make stuff and a little alimony or allowance
after feeding everyone
all the time
Although maybe I only want no schedule
or my own schedule
or no other bodies to think of or herd about or manage somehow
there is a certain freedom to getting the younger child to eighteen
the temporary majority in which they can vote and marry
but not drink or smoke
which has to chap someone
but made sense at the time
I've been off balance, teetering on the brink of distressed and weepy for no good reason. If I think about it, I know I would feel better if I could make it to the gym, accomplish some exercise, stick my nose in a horse, ride my bike, but the threshold for doing any of those things seems unsupportably HIGH and I am unable to clear it without stubbing my toes.
I also know that making stuff generally makes me happier, and I have been working on that. But the whole studio scene has been feeling oddly pointless if I can't find an outlet for it - gallery girl wants landscapes, but what it pulling on me is these larger more abstract sinuous river works, and she hasn't got the space for them or the people who want them. Shich means finding an audience for them, or figuring out how to craft them for her audience, or something, and thinking about it is just making me tired.
Aerin is home from college, she's slept most of a week. She said today at supper that she thinks she might have mostly caught up because the book she was reading suddenly got stupid. And she was half-way through book two. Of a trilogy. So that made us both laugh.
I had the distraction of my dad today, so I took him over the to the Amherst College Natural History Museum (the museum formerly known as the Pratt) and he was gobsmacked. It was charming and delightful. Out of a smallish museum of three levels, we saw half of the middle level and roughly half of the top level, and then we had to go fortify ourselves with lunch and settle our whirling brains. We will probably do that agin a couple of times, since there are still things to explore. He had a nice time opening all the drawers that visitors are allowed to open, and admiring the fossils within. It is a super little museum, and a family favorite. Next time we'll take some subset of the girls as well. Today was much easier mentally than two weeks ago. We were in the present, and talking about geology, and current things, and he was pretty solid. I think it is trying to remember things, particularly people, where he gets lost, and then goes in circles.
Al and I are negotiating how to get Aerin wheels so she can transport herself to and from job interviews, actual work, and her young man near Boston. My mother has very kindly offered half, but Al has some issues around giving her a thing she can't maintain, and is quibbling over exact phrasing of ownership, which is tense.