This is for friends and family outside of Texas who may be worrying after hearing of the fertilizer plant explosion nearby. The explosion happened in the town of West, about 15 miles north of Waco. I’m well out of the danger zone here in Waco.
I went back to the UK for the first time in nine years this past October. My cousin Andy’s twin baby daughters turned a year old during my visit. I made each of them a stuffed animal for their birthday.
I think they went over well.
It was also my dad’s birthday during my visit. Dad has Alzheimer’s, and it’s been several years since I last saw him, so I wasn’t sure how the visit would go. But, he recognized me when I first arrived (though later he thought I was his older sister), and went as well as could be expected.
Lesson learned during this visit: visit more often, so you’re not moving the entire time, trying to fit in everyone in a short trip.
My b-mum sent me a note before Christmas to let me know she’d sent me a small package by snail mail, but when I got back from CA, it wasn’t there. I was bummed because I thought the neighbourhood vandals had struck again and nicked it off the porch. But! It turns out the post was just really, really slow. Got the package today and had a lot of fun trying to get into her mad packaging (re-using bits of an old amazon box and lots and lots of packing tape!). I’ve been giggling and grinning for the past half hour at one of the items in the package… a Discworld wall calendar. Hee!
Bleh, I’ve let the whole blog thing slide again.
OK, let’s see… highlights since the last post. Finished A Christmas Carol; as usual, it was fun getting to play with friends from previous shows and meeting new ones.
I’ve discovered that Lucy only gets along with humans that she meets with their dogs (at least, that’s my theory). Mum and Nathalie drove in from California to spend Christmas. I had suggested to Mum that she bring Lassie to play with Lucy, but in the end she decided not to. They were here for ten days, and Lucy never really warmed up to either of them. But people like Crista and Eileen she goes crazy over. Mum was a bit miffed (especially when Crista came home halfway through their visit and Lucy went crazy greeting her). I don’t think she’d ever before met a dog that she couldn’t win over quickly. Maybe next time she’ll listen to me and bring Lassie.
I made a sweater and a little hat for Tredessa’s Jaxon. I finally finished the sweater over Christmas holiday. I found a pattern for a sweater with a train on it, and changed the colours so that it would look a bit like the Hogwarts Express. It was my first attempt at intarsia colour work. I don’t think I’ll be trying it again very soon. The knitting itself wasn’t a problem, but weaving in all the fifty thousand ends I ended up with was a pain in the patootie. Still, it turned out quite nice.
I was contacted by a lady from a small publishing company called I Publish. A lot of what they do seems to be out of print classics, along with some new authors. She had heard some of my LibriVox recordings and wanted to know if I’d be interested in reading for them (for pay!). Naturally, I said yes, and she sent me a couple of chapters of Clara Vaughan by Richard D. Blackmore (better known for Lorna Doone) to record as an audition piece. She wanted them by the end of this month, and I sent them in last week. She emailed me that she’d received my files and would be listening to them over the weekend, so fingers crossed!
I have my dad here for a while. With the help of some of his friends in the DR and Andy and Auntie Ruth, we got him out of the DR (we sort of hijacked him, since he couldn’t make up his own mind). He’s been here a little over a week, and will be here till Andy gets a permanent situation settled for him over in the UK (much as I love him, hopefully soon).
Well, I survived the week in CA, but I was glad I was only there for a week. The place was hectic. Ten people and two dogs, and then the last couple of days, one additional person. Two people had colds when I arrived, and by the time I left, they’d traded them with two others – myself and my mother. So, I was glad I’d asked for the rest of last week off. It gave me time to get better before having to come back to work. With so many of us sick, it was interesting to see how each of us reacted to the same virus – one had really bad chest congestion; another had horrible post-nasal drip and cough; mine was all in the sinuses; mum’s had just started when I left, so I don’t know what hers was like.
I got a great new lap quilt from mum for Christmas. I’d told her how cold it gets in my office, so she made me one that folds up into a pillow to keep at work. I’d been a bit worried about the gift I got for Andy – a physics kit (like a chemistry set but with gears and wires and things), but apparently his parents found him playing with it when they went to bed Christmas Eve (an hour or so after he’d said he was going to sleep).
MB and Sherry and I got to have a couple of SKVE meetings while Sherry was here for her holiday. We went to see P.S. I Love You one day and met for coffee another day. I’m not a great fan of Hillary Swank, but I enjoyed the movie ok. Sherry hadn’t heard anything about it before going, so she was disappointed that Gerard Butler dies; but then relieved that he comes back in flash-backs and hallucinations. She just likes to look at him. I made them each a short scarf with a slit in one end that you can tuck the other end into. MB opened hers while Sherry and I were waiting for our coffees, and we watched her trying to figure it out. She kept looking at the length of it, then opening the slit, then folding it back up. When she heard us giggling at her she asked me what it was, “It’s too short to be a scarf, and it has this opening thing only on one end…” Once she figured it out, she liked it. Sherry, having spent some time in a colder climate now, knew exactly what it was and how to use it.
I’m off to my first programming conference this week. It’s a three day conference on XSLT. It’s the first conference I’ve gone to for Baylor. I need to do a bit of research on Austin (which is where it’s going to be), so I can visit stuff after hours.
I’ve started a new project on LibriVox to work on in conjunction with The Elusive Pimpernel. I started Anne of Avonlea last night. I had a sudden craving for some more Anne. I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to get done on these two projects this coming month (while Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is in rehearsals), but I’ll always have weekends.
The Man Who Came to Dinner has finished. I got lots of compliments on my character, and lots of “it took me a second to realize that was you when you came on stage” type comments. During the course of MWCtD my friend Tredessa applied for and got the directorship of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which is the next show coming up. I hadn’t been particularly interested in auditioning for that show (I find Tennessee Williams terribly depressing), but I enjoy working with T, so I checked to see if they had a stage manager for it yet. They didn’t, so I signed up for the job. We’ve had auditions, but rehearsals don’t really get started until the New Year, so there’ll be a bit of a break. As much as I enjoy doing stuff at the Civic, it’s nice to know that, for this gig, I actually do get paid a small stipend (yay, crew!).
I’m heading off to CA on Friday to spend Christmas with mum and Paul’s family. I just learned that Alondra’s sister and her two sons will also be there during that time. That is going to be one crowded house. I think I may be asking to go to work with mum more often than I would otherwise have done. I know she wants me to play Santa to all her friends one day at least.
I’ve been knitting frantically for the past few of weeks to finish Christmas presents. I’ve made a purse for my sister-in-law. I finished the actual knitting a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn’t until this past weekend that I got around to sewing up the seams and putting in the lining (which I think I made a little too big, but by the time I figured it out, I was so far into it that I couldn’t bear the thought of starting over (again – the first try was too small)). My other project was a scarf for mum’s friend Natalie, which I also finished last weekend. I took both patterns from my “knitting pattern a day ” calendar. I’ve been pulling out the patterns I like and storing them in one of my notebooks. I was pleased to be able to use a couple of them. I’d post pictures of them, only I haven’t been able to find my camera for several weeks now.
I’ve finished both the projects I was working on for LibriVox. I finished Pride and Prejudice over Thanksgiving weekend, and Novelas Cortas the following week. Now I’m working on another of the Scarlet Pimpernel books, The Elusive Pimpernel. At this rate, I may end up doing all of them (that are on gutenberg, anyway). I got the new MCC continuing ed schedule in the mail last week, and I saw that one of the seminars they’re offering is about doing voice over work. I’m seriously considering signing up for it.
I went to see August Rush and Enchanted around Thanksgiving. I really liked them both. I’ve gotten to the point where I usually just wait for a movie to come out on dvd before watching it, but there are a few that intrigue me enough that I’m willing to shell out five bucks for a matinee.
Life’s been pretty busy since my last post (hence no posts since then).
So, first off, I started the new job. It’s been fairly quiet for these first few weeks. The whole first week and part of the second all I did was read, because they’d ordered me a new computer (a nice, shiny new macbook!) and we were waiting for it to arrive. The rest of the second week I spent trying to install Windows and Linux on it (some of the things I’m going to be working with run on Mac, some on Windows and some on Linux, so I have to have all three OS’s). Then I went on vacation for a week, but I did finally get the various operating systems running when I got back. Since then, they’ve slowly been getting me started on some of the things I’m going to be dealing with. Oh, and kind of cool coincidence, one of the first things I worked on was a problem a professor was having with his website, which he was running with wordpress… so this blog? Not just for fun! Actual work related learning experience gained from it!
Now back to the vacation. I went out to Mum’s for ten days. This is the first time I’d been out there since she moved to Palmdale and Paul brought the family up, so I got to see the new house, and of course, all the family. The times at home were fairly quiet. The boys are sort of between activities right now, so they spend most of their time online or playing video games (sometimes both). Mum and Natalie and I had fun though. Mum and I usually try to get out to the Hollywood Bowl whenever I visit during the summer, and this year Natalie came with us. We got to see South Pacific, with Reba McEntire and Brian Stokes Mitchell. It was awesome! Then a few days later, we went to see Wicked. I’d been wanting to see this since I first found out that the book was being turned into a musical, so I did a quick search to see if the touring company might happen to be in the Los Angeles area during that week, and found that there’s a permanent (well, probably semi-permanent) production at the Pantages! I treated Mum to both shows for her birthday present. Natalie came with us to this one too. They didn’t know anything about Wicked, but they were excited to be getting out of the house for something other than work. On the Friday before I came back Natalie’s daughter Debbie was playing in the orchestra for a community college production of Once Upon This Island, so we went to that too. Needless to say, after South Pacific and Wicked, this was a bit of a letdown. Maybe if we’d seen that one first. I mean, it wasn’t terrible, but it was definitely an amateur performance (I like to think that we’re a little pickier about our lead roles at the WCT… but I’m terribly afraid we aren’t always).
I haven’t been doing much outside of work since I got back. Though yesterday was my birthday and I did get taken out for lunch. Apparently, the Preservation people adopt whoever works in the office across the hall from them, regardless of what department they’re in, so Eric and I get included in all they do. It’s fun, and I’m enjoying getting to know that group better. I used to see them some when they were on the first floor, but we’re in much closer proximity here and it’s easier.
Annie opens next weekend at the Civic. I got cast in it, but then I found out that Linda had cast about 60 kids! I told them that I’d just started a new job and we were starting a big project and that I wasn’t sure how much spare time I was going to have in the evenings (all of which is true), so thank you but I was going to have to turn down the part. I will be ushering, though. Beth is playing Miss Hannigan and I’ve heard that she’s hilarious, so I’m looking forward to watching her.
I’m still working on El Dorado for Librivox. It’s an interesting story, but I keep putting off recording because Armand, from whose perspective most of this story is told, is driving me spare. He’s being such an absolute infant that I keep wanting to smack him upside the head. This one’s longer than the other Orczy book I did too, much longer. I originally picked it because it’s the other book they generally use when they’re making a film adaptation, so I know parts of the plot.
I ache. All over. Owie.
We had two three hour choreography rehearsals this weekend for Mattress and covered the Prologue, Song of Love, and part of Opening for a Princess. It’s Song of Love that’s got me in this state. Nichelle assigned Regan and me to be cheerleaders and told us to “be creative” so, of course, being us, we went nuts! And now I’m one big owie.
On the plus side, I’ll probably be in better shape by the time the show’s over.
So, as promised, some pics of the little Border Collie I knitted for mum; Toby, as she calls him.
I also took some pics of mum’s real Border Collie, Lassie (yes, I know, not the most original name… I expected better from her, but still )
Sweet, isn’t she? But, just when you thought you were safe, she turns into…
I’ve started a new blog on Xanga to keep track of the books I read this year. Head over there if you’re interested at all.
I did finally finish the Border Collie I was making my mother, though not in time for Christmas (more like New Year). Sewing it up took way longer than I’d expected. I have some pics, but they’re on my laptop and I’m currently at work, so I’ll post them later. I’m not terribly thrilled with the way it turned out. For one thing, I wasn’t able to find eyes in the right size. The pattern called for 12mm, and the smallest I could find was 15mm, so he looks a bit bug-eyed. Also, in retrospect (meaning after I’d sewn him up), I realized I should have put way more stuffing in him, especially in his front legs, because they were getting a bit floppy and he couldn’t sit up straight. Still, it was my first attempt at a stuffed animal, so it wasn’t too bad, and mum was quite pleased with him. She’s named him Toby and she sits him on her bed every morning with his front paws on the window sill “so he can see out and amuse himself while she’s at work”.
Now, in reaction to two fairly complicated projects (the dog and the shawl), I’m working on something nice and simple, where I don’t have to think at all, just let me fingers do their thing while I watch tv. I’m making a Gryffindor scarf. I’m actually nearly done with it. I mean it to be about six feet long and it’s already nearly as long as I am tall (meaning 5’2″). I’ll take some pics of it once I’m done (possibly wearing both it and my masters’ gown, for better effect )
I’ve also been working on my first pair of socks. I found a toe-up pattern that looked pretty and I started them about two or three months ago, but the needle size they recommended was way too small, and it made the knitting too tight and hard to work (plus I didn’t like the way the pattern said to do the increases – it made the fabric untidy). So, I frogged what I’d done so far and started over with some larger needles. I’ve done about half the length of my foot on the first one and I think, maybe I should have done one needle size smaller (the original was US 0, and I went up to US 3) because it’s a little loose, but I think I can fix it. Anyway, I’ll post pics of them too, when I’m done.