Sunday, December 28, 2014

And a greener Christmas still

No trip home to Maine is complete without a stop in Freeport, an outlet mecca and home to LL Bean. Jeff's parents used to frequent the place long before it became a global enterprise.

Back then, it was mostly a hunting and fishing supply store and no one had thought to build a trout pond or bring in big-ass, stuffed game into the store.

Alison has made the trip with us every year. This was the first time she christened the streets of Freeport with vomit. She'd warned us starting out that her stomach was grumbly. We thought she'd be fine. Sure there wasn't snow, but it was a clear day with brisk, healing air.

Not so much.

But this is Maine. So as I held her hair and looked madly about for a place to take her to puke in private, a passing motorist stopped and rolled down her window. "I have tissues and wipes," she said. "Good luck!"

Generally, once you've hoarked you feel better, right? We were sure our last meal of the trip with family was going to be the reinvigoration Ali needed. She started with soup and nibbled on bread.  Upon  departure, she leaned over the edge of the porch and lost her lunch.

The wait staff, just like the lady in the car, reacted with no drama and much sympathy.

Last night was no better. I snuggled with her. Jeff got to clean the bedspread. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get that smell out of my nose until I realized my pajamas hadn't fully escaped the onslaught. Blech.

She managed to get down some toast this morning but air travel wasn't the best treatment for whatever virus has taken up residence in her belly. She was so pitiful that even after the sit down and stay there warning sounded, the flight attendants made sure she could get into the lavatory, clutching her barf bag the whole time.

Her demeanor and grip on the bag didn't endear us much to our fellow passengers. But  hey, she wasn't a screamer like the kid farther up the aisle.

We may have left the little bug on the plane; she's been queasy but hasn't barfed on Hoosier soil. Sorry to any United flyers who followed us, but at least you'll be in kind hands...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Green Christmas

Jeff Reed may never have been prouder of himself.  A Reed family tradition has been to re-use wrapping paper and boxes.

Tomorrow morning - or afternoon depending on when Uncle David gets to stirring -- this is what you'll hear at 14 Hamlin Road once the colored paper starts flying:

"Oooooh. That's from Ledgewood Drive.
"Oh! I love that paper." 
"Ugh. Someone taped to the box."
"It's the box wrapped like on TV!"
"Did I really get a box of cigars?"

There's a stash of Christmas paper in the basement that reaches back to the last millenium, and I'm certain some of the ribbon may be pre-World War one. There are boxes from department stores only the oldest of us remember being open, along with boxes that once held baby clothes and toys.

And now the entry that may win the award for best use of old paper:

That's five different remnants, at least one from days before I joined Team Reed. The ribbons are what was left over on the gift-wrapping table.  Don't know what the box originally held. It could be anything from Amazonian treasure to duck calls. Only the tape is new.

I almost don't want to open it.

As Gary says, "The former Mrs. Reed would be proud."

In other Postcards from Maine, which is uncharacteristically raining and less-than-frigid, Alison added a twist to our annual cookie factory at Auntie Jen's. Can't spill the beans, but Jen is in on it. I won't tell anyone that she demanded a full share even after sampling the goods...

We've visited the breakfast place where I have banana walnut pancakes every year and Gary has his small omelette and Ali plays Jenga with the jelly. We're a few hours away from visiting with the Chinese buffet folks. Traditions are being checked off right and left.

Here's another:  Merry Christmas everyone. Happy New Year, too!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Stockings are hung

It's four days before Christmas,

And all through my house,

There's packers a stirring,

It's no place for a mouse.

The stockings are hung, by the chimney,

But who cares?

No hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

Tonight we'll be nestled all snug in our beds,

With visions of Maine dancing in our heads.

No 'kerchief for mama, but a nightcap for Dad.

It'll be hard to settle down for any kind of nap.

Cause out on the lawn there's such a glimmer, a beacon so bright.

That wrapped up magnolia keeps us up all night!

OK. Enough of the bastardization of Clement C. Moore. I'm sure he wouldn't approve. Plus, we've learned to shield ourselves from the tree. Hope the neighbors did, too.

I'm sure you have as much to do as I do, so I'll keep this short -- the better to keep on the good list.

1. The Young Actors Theatre board of directors overlooked my recent stage faux pas to let me join the group! Karin glided in easily as I expected. So look for all kinds of missives from me in the future about how great this organization is. And mark your calendars in January -- January 9, 10 and 16 -- for Ali's next play: "Judgement: Beauty and the Beast." Others in the January line up are "Conscience: A Pinocchio Story;" "Trust: A Pied Piper Story;" "Pride: The Emperor's New Clothes;" and "Fear: A Red Riding Hood Story."

Ali is in only the one, but you can't go wrong with a night out at the Athenaeum to see one of the shows. And yes, they're all there. I checked this time...

2. If I was ever going to be a cat burglar, now's my time. I burned off most of my finger pads trying to help with costuming for the various plays. If you go and marvel at how great a random costume is, you can just assume I made that one. Actually, it'll be the work of Beck. He's 15 and amazing. He'll be winning Oscars for costuming in the next few years.

That's about it from here. All is well. Home fires were burning until today when I decided to make a fire. Unlike the last time I tried on my own, I actually tried to open the flue, but something fell down and clunked and the damn thing wouldn't open. Jeff took a quick look and quickly took on a bunch of soot, which was kind of funny but didn't solve our flue issue. We did, however, have a fireplace full of Santa Claus there for a while.

We'll get around to addressing the problem in the new year, I suspect. The flue is likely unchanged from when it was installed back in the 1950s or so, so it's due an upgrade, I suppose. I'm just glad no critters fell down on me.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza and Happy New Year to you all! Here's a little angel to send you off to the new year.

I've been trying to get her to re-sit for me, but she's resistant...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I'm not a stage crasher...I mean, I didn't mean to stage crash

I like to think I'm a pretty well organized person. I make lists. I have plans. I'm a "place-for-everything-everything-in-it's-place" kind of person. 

Not because I'm that way by nature -- I just hate to be that person who can't get to work time because I've lost my keys or had to go back to get my phone or work ID or lunch. Or, say, forgets it's early dismissal at school and leaves her kid on the bench outside Miss Becky's office. ("Oh, there's always one of you," said Becky that terrible day during Ali's first-grade year. "This year it's you." 

For the record, Ali's in 8th grade and I didn't make that same mistake again.) Miss Becky, apparently, thinks everyone is allowed a Lucy-and-Ethel moment or two. She's a keeper that Becky. I trust you all can view the following through her nonjudgmental, forgiving eyes... 

Yesterday started out great. I'd been fretting a bit about a meeting with the president of the Young Actors Theatre Board. Alison is developing her own life and doesn't need me as much as she used to. (Or so she seems to think.) I've been looking for ways to get back to contributing to the world a bit. 

YAT is an amazing organization. I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't rave about how much it's helped their kid develop confidence, inner strength and just an ability to find their own, individual awesome. Oh, and their performance skills too, of course. 

One day at a Canterbury Park spruce up day, I was talking to a neighbor about needing to leave to get Ali to YAT and a random jogger going by called out that her daughter had been a YAT kid and how they loved it. That's how great it is. 

Our Saturday YAT afternoons have become a highlight of the week for me. Alison jets off to the west end of the Athenaeum for YAT while I head into the downtown Indy YMCA gym at the east end. It's a great time to talk about this or that. Almost like the days when I delivered her to daycare where she'd cavort with Alex and Jenna all day and which would lead me to meet Karin Ogden, who'd lead me to YAT (and the downtown Y, for that matter.) 

On really great days, Karin meets up with me at the A. It was one of those days, actually, when she and I were talking about my need for to get back into volunteering when the idea of YAT board openings came up. She was thinking about it, too. Next step is us trying to pass muster with the whole board.  

Karin's a shoo-in. She's fabulous. As for me, well, up until last night, I might have had more confidence in my chances. 

Anyway, after my meeting with Mandy, I worked out, as per my usual. Just about the time I was sniffing the air and wondering if I should have showered after the workout, I see Justin, YAT's executive artistic director. Hoping I don't stink, I talk a bit more about how excited I am at the prospect of joining the board. It occurs to me to wonder if he's ever seen me when I don't look like a hobo. 

Ali emerges and asks if we could attend the YAT production of "Little Women, the Classic Retold." Hannah Ogden was in it and it was at 7:30. "Sure!" I said. We always like to see Hannah perform. 

And this is where I started channeling Lucy Ricardo. We rushed home because that morning when Ali was at volleyball evaluations, I'd gone to the grocery. Running close on time, I'd dumped most of the bounty on the kitchen floor and stuffed (I hoped all of) the food that needed chilling in the fridge or freezer. I check in with Jeff to tell him our plans. He'd trekked to Bloomington that morning on a bourbon quest. 

I texted Karin to see if she was going to the play. Hurrah! Yes she was. She'd get the tickets and we'd just meet her there. I remember congratulating myself for having just renewed by stash of tokens for the Athenaeum parking lot. That would make parking downtown a breeze and I didn't have to worry about getting online to order my tickets. I had loads of time.

So, I dragged out the crock pot, tracked down a recipe and did all the things that should create a pot roast sometime in the next 7 days. Oh, here's a side-note. I thought crock pot cooking was supposed to be this easy, peasy thing. Don't be fooled by all the hype. 

It takes hours and hours to actually cook the stuff and there's tons of work involved! I had to flour-coat, season and sear this slab of beef before it went in. Wash and cut vegetables. Track down spices and balsamic vinegar and wine and olive oil. It was a two-pot endeavor, my friends. That, by definition is "real" cooking. 

Anyway, it took a while. I was still stinky from the gym. (I had washed my hands.) It was nearing time to get to the play. But we were still in fine shape. In fact, I offered to Ali that we might have time for a Starbucks hot chocolate if she wanted one. She opted for getting to our seats well in advance of the curtain. 

 Turns out, the Athenaeum parking lot was full. I try not to do too much illegal stuff with Ali around so we circled a while looking for a proper spot and losing two to other lot patrollers. 

Ali started to really fret both about my parking and our timely arrival. I let her out to go in ahead and drove the streets looking for a spot. I was was nearly parallel parked when I noticed the bus stop sign glaring at me from the sidewalk. For a few seconds, I wondered if the buses really ran this late.

I ended up shelling out $10 to park near the building. I fast-walk to the door only to see Ali outside looking at the directional signage. "It's at Fringe, not here," she said. I do quick math in my head, calculating the difference between driving or trotting the several blocks. I opt to trot. My knee, already angry at me from the afternoon work out, decides midway that it had had enough. 

"Mom, come on! I can run in heels, and you can too." We get there. The ticket-taker say, "Oh you have plenty of time. We're getting a slow start." 

This cheers me up until we ask where the stairs are -- Karin had given us good directions about where to go past the stairs. There are no stairs at Fringe. 

Calmly, I inquire as to where the "Little Women" are. 

"We're not doing Little Women. We're doing a lip synching competition. It should be really fun. You should stay!" 

Alison is starting to panic. I'm still panting. My knee is still creaking and the sweat that started to pool despite the December temps and my warm scarf, starts to swim down my back. 

Enter Pauline Moffat, executive director of Indy Fringe. She introduces herself. I mumble something about my friend Lori Kaplan, who's on her board. She may still think I'm crazy but at least we have a friend in common. 

As I'm texting Karin to determine her whereabouts, half a dozen of the Fringe lip synchers whip out their smart phones. 

"Why aren't they at the Athenaeum?" Pauline asks. 

She's morethan familiar with YAT because Indianapolis, while big compared to my hometown, is really a small town. And the arts people, I'm finding, are both wonderful and wonderfully connected. And super helpful to idiots off the street. 

"I know!" I exclaim, feeling vindicated. "I'd just assumed that's where they'd be." 

We start rattling off possible venues. Half her cast is giving Google a work out. "I'll call Justin," she says. 

"Oh you can't!" I say. "He's directing." 

"Oh I think he'll pick up when he sees my number," she says. 

Karin pings first. "They're at Herron," I whisper. 

Pauline looks at me, unconcerned. "It's not that far. What time does it start?" 

Her Australian accent somehow de-accelerates my heartbeat. But I know where Herron is. More importantly, I know where we are and where my car is. I start thinking we can get to the play by intermission. 

To her credit, Alison has been a trooper. Sure she reminded me that she'd asked me to check for tickets, but for a 13-year-old, she'd been remarkably good about the whole running-madly-down-city-streets thing. 

Pauline learns of my parking spot, assesses Alison's face and says to her: "Why don't I drive you over?" To me, she says: "You go get your car and you can meet back up at Herron." 

Seriously. This woman who I don't know at all, who's running a production herself, is offering to drive my daughter to a show. "I'm superfluous here," she said, insisting. 

Had I not already fallen in love with her for her helpfulness, she got me with her vocabulary. 

So off they went and back out I trotted the half-mile or so to my car. It's possible that I drove the wrong way on a street or parking lot in my zeal to get to the paly. But Ali wasn't with me, so it was OK. I text Karin. Should I wait for intermission or should I sneak in? 

She advises me to sneak in, and I quote, "next time they scatter." Now, I remember bits of Little Women from my childhood. I don't know what "scatter" means in this context, nor do I know the layout of the venue. 

I get to the door, manned by Herron High Schoolers. I tell them my plan. They look at each other and gulp. "Good luck with that," they say, urging me to go on in. 

I should have waited for intermission. 

You see, the only doors to this particular production of "Little Women" open onto the actual stage. 

Yeah. That's why you go early. I realize my position only after I'm actually ON THE STAGE and the production is on full bore. Thankfully, the action is a bit away and I'm wearing a black coat. So I tip-toe like the Grinch behind a screen. I trip over it, of course, but it doesn't fall. 

Just as I get past the thing, I realize the actors are coming my way. Like, they're COMING MY WAY. I hunch down even more and scurry to another corner, practically crawling to escape detection. I dive behind a piano only to find it's part of the set, too! I squeeze into a corner, laying as low as I can when the lights turn my way and a conversation is had at the keyboard. 

What I don't know yet is that Justin has seen me. The cast and crew has seen me. He's contemplating whether to toss in a line to explain my presence. 

Hannah tells me later the cast is asking who I am and thinking the same thing. "She's here for ME!" she tells them. Thank you Hannah. Thank you God for Hannah. 

Finally intermission actually does come and I peel myself off the floor. I find Karin, who's with Dale, Alex and her sister Lynn. I tell them part of the story. 

"This is why you fit so well with us," says Lynn. I love Lynn. 

The play I heard as I scuttled about and the play I saw from my seat, was awesome. My friend Amy Magan's daughter was in it, and hilarious. Hannah, of course, was awesome. The girl who played dying Beth made me cry. 

And we got to bring Alex home with us. So all in all, it was a good night. I have another Aussie friend, my car didn't get towed and we were treated to yet another great YAT production. I'm totally going back to see the Fringe lip synchers, too. 

If my stage crawling doesn't get me banned from the YAT board before I even get a chance to begin, it'll be a small miracle. I'll be lighting candles about that for the next 13 days. Join me if you want -- or help me find a way to explain that despite my inattention to detail on this one occasion, I can actually contribute well to the group. 

And hey, we're having pot roast for dinner tonight. It was finally done around 11 last night. There's half-a-bottle of red wine left over from the recipe, and Ali is itching to bake. Come over and plot my recovery with me.