Archive for April, 2008

The Power of Purple….
April 30, 2008

coverWent to see The Color Purple, Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel first made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey, and then into a Tony-winning play, which is now on national tour and here in Baltimore at the Hippodrome Theatre !! Let me just say this….I’m not a big musical fan. It’s sad, I know, I wish I was a better person, but there it is. Far too many musicals have me peeking discreetly at my watch, and when another song begins…have me sighing internally, “There they go singing again.” So it is with joy and pleasure..and yes gratitude…that I can say without any reservations at all…The Color Purple is fabulous. Simply fabulous. While the show is 3 hours, it never feels like 3 hours, not for a moment. You laugh out loud, and cry some(and I’m not a crier)…it is the only show I’ve ever attended where the cast standing onstage for their bows, brought me to tears.

And the music is rafter raising…with many of the Broadway performers reprising their roles, you are in no doubt that you’re seeing one of the finest ensembles ever assembled. It is just.. that… good. Purple is about family, love, overcoming terrible hardships…and it’s about joy….and you feel a great deal of it leaving the theatre. ‘Nuff said.

starsAnd two of the stars of Purple got up early (for them) this morning to do interviews….I really enjoyed meeting Angela Robinson who plays the very sexy Shug Avery, the woman every man cannot resist, and Rufus Bonds, who plays the role of Mister…who makes an incredible emotional journey in the play. They had some very interesting insights into their characters…and about life on the stage, part of which you’ll see tonight on 11 News at Five, but we will post the interviews in their entirety online, in case you’d like to see them.

But try to get to see this show…it’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss. I wish I could see it again….

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Parent/child angst…..better call Mom!!
April 29, 2008

I’ve had some really interesting responses to my previous blog about “taciturn emails” from my son who lives in New York. And I can see that the issue isn’t just on the parental side, but also from kids…grown kids, of course….who feel at least some degree of angst and guilt that they HAVEN’T CALLED MOM/DAD IN WAY TOO LONG!

Oh, I’ll definitely call tomorrow, then tomorrow goes by and the next day until it’s been weeks. Or longer. And it is true, that when you don’t speak with people for some time, you have less to talk about when you do. Oh you may say “How can that be? If a lot of time has gone by you have tons to tell!” Yeah, but where do you start…you just can’t begin a litany of everything that has happened in your life, ’cause how boring is that, and now that I think about it, not all that much has happened, certainly nothing big or all that exciting, so maybe I just say, “Oh, not much same old, same old. Everyone is fine….” Blah, blah, blah.

But when you speak to someone on a daily, or weekly basis, you are so much more in tune with the minutia of someone’s life. Yes, I know, sometimes too much minutia. But really, isn’t that what life really is? Truly big things don’t happen all that much in life, and I might like to know something interesting you cooked for dinner, or how your garden is coming along, or about an interesting dream you had last night. Life is made up of little moments…lots and lot and lots of little moments. And if we keep them all to ourselves, then people don’t really know what our lives are about, because we don’t tell them.

I call my Mom every weekday morning on my way to work. She’s on my cellphone speed dial. And before you give me a gold star, let me say this has only started in the past few years. I used to call a couple of times a week, once a week when my Father was alive. But on that drive to work, it’s a time to connect a little, and just chat. Trust me, big things rarely happen from one day to the next, but I hear how she’s feeling, how she slept, how dinner was in the dining room last night, and sometimes we even venture into politics and other topics. But I know she really looks forward to my call, so I feel really bad if I forget one morning. And I know that one day, perhaps not too far away, she will not be receiving my calls anymore. So I redouble my efforts to stay in touch…about the little things.

Oh, and to Elaine….I have long ago learned the end run. If Jesse doesn’t answer me, Jen usually will.

Taciturn emails….
April 25, 2008

My son is a lamentably infrequent emailer (and caller)….I know, he’s really busy, got his own life, he’s a guy..I get all that. But for Pete’s sake how long does it take to answer an email? You type some info out, maybe a little extra, after all it is your Mother, and press send. Maybe she’d like to know something…anything…about your life.

I’ve been trying to get Jesse to tell me what his girlfriend, the lovely Jennifer, would like for her birthday as  it rapidly approacheth. (Sometimes I break into Biblical-speak when anxious.) I asked would a gift certificate to her favorite yoga studio be good? And what else might she like. After several days of silence(obviously giving it great thought), I get “Yeah, yoga is always a good go-to.”) That’s it.

SOOOOO, I email back , “It’s the Kula Yoga Project?  Right?”

He replies again a day or two later, “Kula project“. That’s it. A two word sentence. Actually a phrase. No more. No less. Wow.

So I sent him a return email saying “You my friend are taciturn. That’s  a great crossword word for you (he & Jen love NY Times crossword puzzles), and in the rare case you don’t know what it means…oh, go look it up.”

Take that.( Another great two word sentence.) Oh, and for the the few, oh so few of you who don’t know what  taciturn means….it decribes someone of few words. The opposite of verbose. Hey, there’s another good crossword word.

Some years ago I was interviewing Mel Gibson about his latest movie, and had not too long before that interviewed Crocodile Dundee star Paul Hogan…they both had little to say to almost any question, and hey, I can usually get people to talk, ok? So to Gibson I finally said, “Are all Australian men so taciturn?” To which he looked at me for a couple of seconds and then yelled a single word over his shoulder…”Dictionary!”

Return from the Redneck Riviera
April 22, 2008

palmOK, the Redneck Riviera was great… again. Oh, we got off to a rough start…at least a little. I had talked my sister  Jan into leaving as soon as I flew in Friday afternoon and got Mom ready …and as soon as she got off work. That way, we’d have all day Saturday and Sunday. It’s a bit of a drive from B’ham. to Gulf Shores…about 5 hours. And we can’t really just get in and drive. My 87 year old Momma HAS to have a bathroom/food break and if you get too far down the road without one, she thinks you’re not gonna stop/ “When are we stopping?”. “Haven’t we passed Montgomery?”

And we actually rate places on the way down on their bathrooms. Places you don’t want to stop with a little old lady in a wheelchair…Dairy Queen in Bay Minette, Alabama. On the other hand, the Arby’s there is quite nice. Bates House of Turkey….could use some work, though Mom loves the turkey.

Anyway we finally arrive around 10 PM…everyone is tired, my other sis Audrey is already at the condo, having enjoyed a quiet relaxing afternoon there…nice, yeah.  The first thing we discover is that Mom’s chair won’t fit through the doorway of one of the bathrooms, and in the other one the “potty bars” she uses cannot be installed. Hmmmm. This is a serious issue. The alternative will be that TWO of us will always have to be present for every trip to the bathroom. Not what we or she had in mind. Baby sister looking frantic, Mom on the verge of tears, Audie and me looking at each other like “What now….”

 Sooooooooo, necessity being the brilliant mommy of invention, a system was rigged using the regular wheelchair(Audrey had rented an electric one there to be delivered and picked up…which gives Mom much freedom-did you know they did stuff like that?) …anyway,  a system was fixed that was usable. Crisis averted. We all fall into bed exhausted, around 1 AM.

viewBut the next morning, here is the view that greeted us off the balcony. The Moorings is on the bay…can you can see all the highrise condos on the beach in the distance?  The apartment is big for two bedrooms two baths…1600 sq. feet…. West Indian decorated, big nice kitchen (except  they need more serving dishes)…all for about 100 bucks a night. And seriously the biggest, coziest sofa any of us had ever seen. Four people could nap on it, no problem. Me likee.

We cooked breakfast every morning..Audrey makes the best bread ever, that makes the best toast you’ll ever eat. I’ll try to get the recipe for the starter she uses…she’s been making it we guessed, for about 20 years. It’s fabulous with flaxseed and all kinds of good stuff…a loaf even made it home in my luggage.

Lunch at the pool usually, in perfect 80 degree weather…my first “zero entry pool”….where walking into the pool is like walking into the ocean….it just  gradually gets deeper. And loads of fountains adding lovely burbling water sounds. Sigh…so nice.

Yes we did cook shrimp and grits, with wild caught shrimp from Bon Secour, a fishing town that was originally settled by the French…means safe harbor…and the quality of the shrimp does make all the difference in the dish. And of course we talked…and talked…and talked. About our kids, our husbands, our childhoods, our lives, our worries, our problems and our joys. It was just….so good.  My Mom loved all of us being together, and she shared a dream she had about two weeks ago, that I hope she wouldn’t mind my sharing with you. But she felt it was a kind of gift or a vision, and she wanted us to know about it. In the dream, she was at a resort on the beach, with people all around. She walked into the water, and started to sing a famous old hymn, “My Faith Looks Up to Thee”. But in the dream, she had a beautiful, beautiful voice…and she knew all the words  to all four verses, though she hasn’t sung it in years. As she sang, the fish in the water swam up gathered around her and listened, and someone from behind her started singing  harmony. She turned and looked too see who it was… a choir director from her church who died some years ago. They finished the song, not missing a beat, or a word. She woke up, feeling something very spritual had been shown to her.

And she still remembered the words…and sang them right there on the balcony as we all listened….with tears in our eyes. I’ll never forget it.

I’m home now..Baby Girl looking up at me appreciatively….(“Where have you been?” ) and watching Dancing with the Stars…hey, I thought Jason Taylor danced a lot betterthan those scores.  But it was a wonderful, wonderful weekend in so many ways, and I loved hearing from some of you about the traditions you have with friends and family. It is really what life is all about, oui?

P.S. This morning I thought it’s Earth Day!! I will drive to work today in my hybrid, and shop using my reusable bag, and try not to take too long of a shower, and this evening I will dig up dandelions rather than spray them with weed killer. What are you doing for Momma Earth?

The Redneck Riviera
April 18, 2008

Yep, that’s where I’m headed today….leaving the fam and the cats behind(ok, cats are part of the fam)….getting on a  plane and flying to B’ham. There my little sis and I will throw our elderly Mother in a car(I mean with great effort and care,  get her and her wheelchair and all the stuff she needs), and head south to Gulf Shores…..L.A.(lower Alabama), the Redneck Riviera, baby!

This is our yearly jaunt that we started 5 or 6 years ago, that has now become a tradition. And some people wonder how a tradition gets started. Easy. You do it one year, and then just keep on keepin’ on… I look forward to this trip….my Mom loves it of course, and I love being with my sisters. Whenever I meet people who don’t get along with their sisters, or indeed barely speak and haven”t seen them in ages, I feel sad for what they’ve lost, and so fortunate for what I have. A close friendship that even when I haven’t seen them in six months, when we get together, it’s like I saw them yesterday. That’s very nice.

I think I wrote about this trip last April, about the chaos that ensues when it’s time to clean out the condo frig….who’s taking the butter? What about the leftover shrimp and grits? Who am I kidding…there won’t be leftover shrimp and grits.

And if you’ve never considered the Redneck Riviera for a holiday…think about it. Gorgeous beaches, good shopping, good eats, and great golf.  We’re staying in a different place this time…not overlooking the beach but a condo on the bay overlooking a marina. Since I found it, I hope everyone likes it…rented this time through homeaway.com. I’ll let you know how it is. In the meantime, I won’t be around a computer, but know I’m having a great time, and I hope all of you enjoy your weekend and some long overdue spring weather as well.

Who knows, maybe the sisters will get in a fight this time! Naw……R.R. here I come!!

How do you walk in them shoes??
April 16, 2008

shoesThat’s what a nice man at the SuperFresh asked me today, as I was leaving with my daily salad…..”How do you walk in them shoes?” My reply…”Barely.”

And it’s true. It’s the first day I’ve worn these suckers…knew I wouldn’t have to walk around tons today…these are no walking shoes….as Oprah would call them, they’re sitting on the set shoes. However, I did have to walk from the car to Superfresh and back to the car, …ok, actually I wasn’t walking so much as limping. I felt like someone whose feet had been bound…only able to to take tiny mincing steps…and I found it was easiest to step with my knees always slightly bent. If you think it looked odd, I’m sure you are correct. 

shoesThey’re sitting on my desk right now, innocently thinking I will soon pop them on again. Not so fast, my little masochistic friends. Honestly I’m not sure I can. Anyone wear size 8?

Living large on my residuals…..
April 10, 2008

checkYep, got a couple of checks in just the other day….residual checks. You see, when you have a speaking role in a movie, no matter how small or insignificant, you are considered a principal. As in, not an extra, which isn’t nearly as nice. In fact as an extra, the feeling is much like that of cattle being herded from one place to another, and told what to do and when to do it. As a principal, someone asks if you’re hungry and if you’d like water, and if so, what kind of water, sparkling or still. And you have your own trailerette, and you get to go to hair and makeup.

I get checks in from Philadelphia (yes with Tom Hanks and Denzell Washington, and yes my scene was with them), Line of Fire(yes with Clint Eastwood, and yes my scene was with him), and Head of State (no my scene was not with Chris Rock…or anyone for that matter).  But even after all these years, when a film is sold, to tv, cable, dvd, whatever new it is released toyou get paid, for no work! Isn’t that delightful?

checkBut just before you hate me…..keep in mind, living off your residuals isn’t all you might think it is. At least not for a bit player like me. As you can see….my total gross here was a whopping $14.39. And that’s before  Uncle Sam got through with me. I think the most I’ve ever received was maybe $120? Maybe….So, I save them up to go to the bank, otherwise I’m afraid the teller might try to lend me some money.

Still, I have my movie-making memories…Clint and me….Denzell and me….I wonder what their residual checks look like?

Baby Girl devastated by economy…
April 8, 2008

babyA downhill ride in the 1st quarter….Baby Girl did not like what she was seeing in the news today. And honestly, I think she’s taking it a little personally that she doesn’t have a free ride on the kitchen counters anymore…except when I’m not around, of course.  Last evening I caught her up there a few times…clapped my hands and said “No Baby Girl, no!” She of course, skitters off like she’s been scalded, though she seems to secretly relish the excitement of it all. 

paperSo this morning she picks up a new trick ….eating the newspaper.  Just simply…tearing holes in the business section of the Sun.  And all that is well and fine, except for the tiny scraps of paper to be cleaned up, and reading the papter of course. Ah well….not so bad.

And I had a tip from a reader to the previous post about counter jumping…she advised me to stack up empty soda cans just beyond where Baby can see them…so when she jumps up they fall loudly and scare her, so she won’t do it again(after a few tries I suppose). It’s worth a shot. I was aftaid she was mad at me last night after I fussed at her several times for counter jumping, but she did come for a cuddle later on, so I think all was forgiven. Which she evidentally took as carte blanche to jump again, because she was back up there this morning. Give me strength….

Baby Girl’s new tricks….
April 7, 2008

babyI suppose it was only a matter of time really…that day when Baby Girl realized she could indeed jump from the kitchen floor to the counter. It’s always been too far for her, so things were safe up there…including Muffy’s food. Muffy is a dainty eater…just picks at it and finishes it later, but Baby eats anything and everything….fast. So the only way to keep her from Muf’s food was to put it in a place where Muffy could access it, but Baby could not. The counter under the phone…it’s not a food prep area…(so germaphobes don’t need to be concerned).

Actually, yes you do, now that I think about it. Here’s why. Baby came up to me a few days ago with paws darker than usual…and smelly. Aghhhh, what’s that? Took a closer sniff…not poopy, thank goodness, but what is that smell? Washed her paws with soap and water(umm, she really loves that), and didn’t think much more about it.

When I leave for work in the morning, I usually put down a little extra food for Baby, that I have saved from the morning feed….she likes that. But the can was nowhere to be seen..not in the spot where I usually put it. Oh, there it is, on the floor…now how on earth…wait just a minute. That’s what Baby’s paws smelled like. Cat food. She had dug out with her paws what she couldn’t get with her mouth. And the reality of it hit me. The kitchen counter is no longer safe territory, and Baby has no manners at all. My fault, I know. So now I have to find an even higher place for hiding food…..and I don’t know what to do about Muffy’s food…and I really don’t want her walking all around my kitchen counters. But I’m not sure what to do about it. Besides disinfect every night, or try to catch her up there and yell. A fat lot of good that will do. Baby Girl grows up…..

Being a Charleston homeowner….
April 4, 2008

houseOh for Pete’s sake, NO I’m not one, but I got to play one for a week. Here’s what I do on vacation when the fam comes along…I go to V.R.B.O….vacation rentals by owner…and find a home! The two story house on the right is where we stayed in the gated Wild Dunes community on Isle of Palms. bridgeIt’s about 20 minutes to Charleston over the most beautiful bridge in the world. I love driving over it, but I forget who it’s name for. Someone important, no doubt.The reason  I like a house is everyone has their own space, we have a gathering space for watching tv, meals, and when all is said and done, it would be a lot more expensive to stay in a hotel and eat all the meals out, and neatly as nice. Check it out sometime when you’re traveling.

Anyway, the house was 3 pretty bedrooms, 3 baths so no fighting over showers…right on a golf course with pretty view, nice walking around ponds with alligators in them(!), a big great room with beautiful kitchen and dining room…in truth, much nicer than my kitchen at home. And that way I can take food I want , and wine, and music, and candles…yes I take candles with me…my sisters think I’m crazy too. But really, it’s nice to have the things you like around you on your vacation. They are very important to me. And we cook a lot on vacation.

sublimeOK….places I found that you might not stumble across…Sandy Unitas, yes that Unitas, turned me on to SubLime.I met Sandy when we did a story about her heart troubles a couple of years ago, and she was about to embark on a long visit to Charleston. While she was there last spring, my family and I also went down for a week(another house) and I called her cell and invited her over for dinner. She was staying not too far from us….we did have a delightful dinner, shrimp and grits, natch, and she brought over the most delicious key lime pie I’ve ever seen. Presented in a pretty pink box with a big lime green grosgrain ribbon. It was from SubLime. So this year, I found them, thanks to Sandy, and got a pie. Really, the best ever. AND, they also sell “Dirty Pie”…this is the seductive concoction of putting a slice of frozen pie on a popsicle stick, and dipping it in dark chocolate. Yeah…I know.

stellaShopping on King Street is insane….some of the best shops and boutiques you have ever seen. LaTiDa, Nula, Berlins, and Stella Nova. If there is a better makeup and and skin care store, with a better selection, I’d like to know about it. Product lines I’ve never heard of before…seriously I could have spent hours in there.

A reader responded that I should have gone to Jestine’s Kitchen for dinner in Charleston…and I have heard good things about it, but a week goes by fast. Maybe I’ll put it on my list for next year….