A New Look at Book Covers

Cover OutsideA Grandma Sewing Tutorial

I never had to have my books covered in high school. At least I don’t remember having to cover them, but that was a long time ago. I barely remember what classes I took in high school. I do remember, however, cutting class as much as possible during my junior year. I didn’t love high school.

My sweet DGS is now three days into his high school experience. He texted me the other night and said he had a sewing project to complete before Friday, asking when I’d be available to assist his design efforts. When I asked what he needed, he said he had to sew a book cover for his algebra book. I tried to ask the correct probing questions to see if the teacher actually used the word “sew.” I suggested all the brown-paper-bag covers I had seen through the years, but he was adamant that he was going to sew it.

I quickly cleared my calendar and drove over to his house to retrieve him. After doing some mega-school-supply shopping and grabbing take-out dinner, we headed to the sewing room. I had some remnants on one table and pointed him there. They included fabric that I used to make a bedspread in the Tucson home where his parents lived when he was born. It was a nice solid buttery yellow upholstery fabric, sort of a ducky-lineny weave. Not interested. But a little further down in the stash was a piece I have had for years and can’t even remember where or when it joined my life. It is a floral tapestry print fabric like one would use for heavy draperies or to upholster a wing chair. The color palette is shades of green, teal, pink, rose, and a touch of pale aqua. I dug into a box of hand-dyed cotton and found a nice deep green/teal with touches of a lighter yellow/green.

First we measured the book. From front edge to back edge around the spine, it was 20″. From bottom edge to top edge, it was 10¼”. I wanted ½” seam allowances, and I wanted to topstitch close to the edge all the way around, so I added 1½” (¾” x 2) to the book measurements, giving me a rectangle of 21½” x 11¾”. I cut one rectangle out of the tapestry and one out of the hand-dyed cotton. Because of the width of the covers (probably about 9″ wide), I decided to make 4″ pockets—where you slip the edges to hold the cover onto the book.

Cover InsideDGS felt the cover would be heavy enough without interfacing or fusible fleece, but I did interface the pocket to make it sturdier for keeping the cover on the book. I cut two rectangles 11¾” x 9″ ((4″ pocket + ½” seam allowance) x 2). I cut two 4″ x 10¼” rectangles of Pellon SF101, pressed the pockets in half to measure 11¾” x 4½”, then opened them up and centered the edge of the interfacing along one pressed edge, leaving the seam allowances uninterfaced. Then I positioned the two pressed pockets along either edge of the lining and DGS basted them in place with a ¼” seam allowance. Now we had a rectangle of tapestry and a rectangle of cotton (with pockets attached), which we pinned right sides together.

These were seamed leaving about 4″ open on one side—either the top or the bottom. I pressed the open edges back, matching the start and stop points of the seam so that they would be easy to sew together. Then he trimmed the seam allowances, holding the scissors at an angle to grade the seam allowances (not have too many layers stacked on top of each other) and clipped the corners. Because the tapestry was loosely woven, next he zigzagged along the edges except for the opening.

Time to turn it rightside-out and admire our handiwork. And his next question was the usual for our projects, “Grandma, where are the chopsticks?” It’s our favorite corner-turning tool. Before sewing the opening, we tried the cover on the textbook, and it was a bit snug. And the clock was striking 9:00, so I told him I’d finish it up on Thursday before his Friday deadline, and ran him home for a good night’s sleep before High School Day #2.

I fretted all night about the fact that I didn’t allow for any ease. It’s not a body. It doesn’t need an ease allowance, right? Wrong! After finished my work on Thursday, I turned it wrong side out again and moved the end seams out as much as I could, which was ⅛ to ¼” on either end. Then I redid the zigzag stitch in a couple of places.

To finish, turned it rightside out, pressed the heck out of it, pinned the prepressed opening and topstitched close to the edge of the opening from the edge of the left pocket to the edge of the right pocket. Then I topstitched the rest of the way around from where I had stopped on the opening to where I had started on the opening.

He had left his book in his locker on Thursday, so I couldn’t see the final fit, but I’m pretty sure it was fabulous.

My tasks: Design concept, math consultation, fabric cutting, final fixing.
His tasks: Fabric selection, all sewing except final fixing.
Shared tasks: Smiling.

Back in the (Sewing) Saddle Again

Leslie Rayon Jersey TopWhile I was at camp, there was barely a minute to spare. I thought I was going to be able to volunteer in the costume shop and help them out with stitching. I brought my current knitting project and a couple of sewing projects, along with my beloved Bernina, and didn’t have nearly as much handcraft fun as I thought I would.

So you can imagine that I’m happy to be home and back in my sewing room. The Lovely Lady Leslie spent a few days in Youngstown after camp, and I was able to sit her down in my sewing room—instead of long distance—and show her patterns and fabrics and determine what would work for her and what wouldn’t.

Leslie Rayon Jersey Top

Ever the dancer!

Before she left this morning to drive back to Amarillo, I was able to quickly make a top for her out of a rayon jersey (sort of a steel blue, although Gorgeous Fabrics called it “Blue rain”) that we both loved. (Long sold-out at Gorgeous Fabrics. Pretty sure it’s been hanging out in my stash since November of 2013. 😮 )

I used McCall’s 7020, which I used twice for camp tops. And what a difference a fiber can make! I never loved it in the cotton I got from Mood for my top. It felt wimply. I liked the look of the top itself on me, but could have chosen a better fabric if I lived in a town where I could pet fabric! Made up for Leslie in this is drapey rayon jersey, I think the result was much better. That gorgeous cowl collar will drape much more nicely, and I think she’ll get a lot of wear out of this.

<Sidenote On>
One morning at breakfast in the dining hall, I sat down next to Emily, who is the host in the Minnesota Building, down on the lakefront. She complimented me on the top, and I replied, “Thank you. I made it.” She observed that it looked very “Eileen Fisher.” That made my day!!!
<Sidenote Off>

I goofed a couple of times on this top and could kick myself. I topstitch the center front and center back seams with a double needle with wooly nylon in the bobbin. But when I trimmed the excess seam allowance away, I—ohmygodnononono!—cut the fabric. TWICE. Okay, so one was just a little nick. But the other was a four-inch gash!!!!! Fortunately both oopsies were close to the hem, so I pressed fusible interfacing to the wrong side and stitched a few more of the double needle topstitching lines over the problems. (I hand-stitched the gash closed first, then fused over it.) If Leslie doesn’t read this, she’ll never know. Even if she reads this, she may never be able to find my fix. I hope. It certainly won’t affect her wearing of the garment.

Otherwise, nothing unusual about this project. I did spray the wrong side of the CF and CB seams with starch and press them before topstitching, to give them more body while stitching. That left a starch residue on the garment, so last night I washed it in the machine with a couple of bath towels to try to remove the residue. Success! I normally wouldn’t dry a rayon jersey, but the collar and collar seams are bulky on this garment, so I put it in the dryer for about 15 minutes before finishing the hem.

Did my normal interfaced hem trick: Both hems (bottom and sleeves) were 1¼” deep, so I cut several strips of fusible tricot interfacing, which I fuse to the wrong side of the edge of the hem allowances. When I fold it to the inside and press, I have a clean fold on the hem, and sufficient body to support the double-needle topstitching for the hem finish. I think Marcy Tilton taught me that, and I am forever grateful.


And I’m baaaack!

Jas’s Summer Vacation

kitchen-doorwayIt’s amazing what one brain can forget in six weeks’ time. As I left the house yesterday morning to go grocery shopping, I had to stop and think what the process involved. Turn off the alarm system; wait, what’s the code. Unlock the door to go to the car; wait, there’s a garage door to open, where’s the remote. As I reached down to turn the door knob to go outside, the plate behind the knob looked different, looked shiny, looked new. I looked at it for a few moments, then just figured I wasn’t remembering what it looked like. After all, I’ve only owned this house for six-and-a-half years and used that door every day I was in residence. And I let it go.

Jas got off work early and did yardwork. Leslie arrived at 4:00 to use the printer and then take her dogs to the kennel. We had dinner scheduled for 6:30. At 5:00 I started preparing dinner. Jas walked into the kitchen, looked at me, walked over to me, put his hands on my shoulders, and said, “I have to tell you something.” This phrase, spoken by any significant person in my life, whether personal or work-related, always strikes fear in my heart. The worst is always just ahead.

He turned me around so my back was to the sink and I was facing the refrigerator and the door to the rest of the house. “Notice anything?” he said. I started scanning the walls, and suddenly I realized the chipped paint that had been in the corner for two years was no longer chipped. I said, my voice showing incredulity, “You painted!”

New Paint JobThis guy works twelve hours a day, five days a week on the railroad. He works outside where it’s hot, nasty hot in the sun. He spends time in a big shed where GM contractors are loading Cruze vehicles onto railcars. He walks back and forth on rock ballast, so that his knees hurt with every step and there’s nothing he can do about it. He leaves home at 6:00 a.m. and arrives home after work at 7:00 p.m., then showers to remove the diesel smell and puts on clean clothes and eats dinner (when I’m gone, fixes his own dinner), then takes care of the books for his union local and finally sits down on the couch to watch some news programs, where he falls asleep within three minutes. Five days a week this is his routine. And while I was gone, he spent his weekends plus an hour or so every weeknight prepping and cleaning and painting our kitchen!

Our house was built in 1927. (Okay, I own it, but this guy has put a ton of sweat equity into it since our second date!) The kitchen and upstairs bath were renovated in the early 1950s, according to circumstantial evidence such as paint color and sink styles. In the kitchen, the sheet vinyl rolls at the seams and we place rugs over the seams to keep from tripping. The stove sits six inches away from the adjacent counter/cabinet, and the floor between was gunky and gross and hard to get at to clean. The wood cabinet doors were darkened around the handles from decades of greasy hands opening them. The hardware on the door hadn’t been deep-cleaned in probably 60 years. The walls were an institutional blueish-greenish-nondescript paint color. The ceiling was peeling. (You liked that little rhyme, didn’t you?) The only thing I had done to this room since moving in was to replace the windows from old metal jalousie windows that radiated frigid air during the long NE Ohio winters to winter-friendly double-paned windows. And we put in a new-to-us stove to replace the old stove that dated from, probably, the 50s or 60s. Every time we looked around the room when we were house-talking, we said, “Someday. Someday.”

Jas had worked for three different painting contractors during earlier years, and the guy knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t paint over anything. He removed hardware, washed walls, scraped the ceiling, scraped the wall where the three or four layers of old paint were chipped, sanded and mudded and feathered the wall, cleaned the floor, scraping off old.old.old grease and grime, glued the loose formica-wannabe on the counter, cleaned all the hardware until it gleamed, steel-wooled the cabinet doors and drawers, and on and on. Preparation to the max, professional-level painting, all hardware looking like new, then perfect cleanup. Nothing was left undone. Amazing. Amazing!!!

ShinyThis formerly dull, drab kitchen glows. It gleams. The buttery ivory walls reflect every wave of light. The white ceiling adds to the reflection. And the whitewhite glossy trim completes the equation. It’s inspiring. I don’t like to cook; it takes a lot to inspire me. This kitchen is truly inspirational.

How could I not have noticed this? When I looked at the walls while he was holding my shoulders and talking [proudly] about what he had done, I couldn’t even remember what color the walls were before. He had to open the pantry door to show me the old color.

And after spending twenty minutes showing me everything he had done, we walked into the adjacent powder room and he showed me the paint chips he had collected for that room. He’s going to paint my ratty 1927 powder room, too!!!!!!

I am awed at the sacrifice demonstrated in this act of kindness. I know how tired he is at night. I know how hard he works during the days. I know how he loves his weekends, playing golf with his buds, relaxing on the couch, going out to dinner with our friends.

The amount of time and effort and love that went into this project—I am humbled that that was all done for me.

(And I didn’t even notice. I had to be told. Bad on me!!!!!)
(When he got to work yesterday morning, his coworkers all asked what I thought of his surprise for me. He had to tell them I didn’t even notice. #hangingmyhead!)

Am I a lucky girl or what?!

Camp Postmortem

tshirtor What I took away from my summer at camp

What did I love?

First and foremost: Being able to spend time with the Lovely Lady Leslie. I believe she was 15 when I first met her, and seeing the wonderful adult and mother and teacher she’s grown into fills me with delight. When I’m having a hard day, she cheerfully says just the right thing to help me through the hard to the fun on the other side. I loved popping into her studio/going out for dinner/going shopping/enjoying family time with her this summer. What a magnificent woman she is, and everyone who knows her agrees.

I loved getting to spend time with Tyler’s BFF since they met at camp in 1989. Chip was also a collaborative pianist, assigned to the dance studios. He calls me mom; I refer to him as my third son. And we got to see each other repeatedly for three weeks. A wonderful benefit to this summer!

I loved sitting by the water at any time of the day, watching the people around me socializing or just spending time with their own thoughts.

wk6-lakepennI loved meeting incredibly talented and just plain nice people, learning about their lives, seeing how they’ve found success in life. I loved finding so many mutual connections in this world of the arts—people who knew friends of mine in Tucson and Washington and Cleveland. We live in a small, lovely world.

I loved the flora and fauna that is northern Michigan. The endless forests. The wild turkeys by the side of the road. The morning and evening call of the loon. Peaceful.

What lessons did I learn?

Collaborative pianists should speak only when spoken to. Beyond that, keep your lips zipped. Only ask a question if you absolutely can’t figure out it.

oliverThe score I was working on this summer—typeset in an older font, and being read from a distance of about 18 inches—was hard to read. I would be six or eight pages into the song and the director would say to the music director, “Let’s go back to ‘Pease pudding and saveloys.'” I would lean in to be closer to the print and try to quickly scan the pages and the words to find that phrase. Nightmarish! If I couldn’t find it, or couldn’t find it quickly enough, the music director would feel annoyed (she later told me), as she expected me to always be one step ahead of her and find the starting point without having to ask.

I learned I’m used to being visible, and I’m used to learning and perfecting all the notes and then playing them in performance with very few dropped notes. We first knew we would have a clarinetist in the pit. And my music director started telling me what notes not to play to allow for the clarinet. Then we found out we’d have a cello, and I was instructed to drop more notes. Then a violin was added. Then we started programming the Clavinova to be able to add some string sounds, and hurdy-gurdy sounds, and chimes, and harp. The instructions to me from my M.D. would come quickly while I was playing in rehearsal, and I’d try to remember them until we got to a stopping point so I could mark my music. When she would call something to me, there were children singing and feet stomping. I couldn’t hear or understand what she was saying. She’d give me “notes” after the rehearsal, and I’d mark them into my music. She’d tell me not to play a phrase and I’d mark my music, then the next day she would tell me to play it and I’d remark the music, then the following day she’d say to play it softly, under the clarinet, and I’d remark it again. My brain developed a constant state of confusion. If I played something wrong, I’d get a look. You know what I mean. And I’d start being afraid to strike the keys if I wasn’t absolutely certain of the notes I was to play. By the final performance she was giving that signal of [pointing index and middle fingers at your own eyes, then at the eyes of the person you’re giving the “I’m watching you” message to]. I just wanted to say … oh, never mind. If you know me well, you know what I wanted to say. And I wanted to throw my music on the ground and walk out. But I didn’t. I’m not that kind of person. I’m not a fool.

Back to the first sentence of that paragraph—I’m used to walking among the crowd after a performance and having audience members tell me how much they enjoyed my playing, my music. At these performances, the audience saw only the back of my head. The fact that I had known and worked with their kids the entire summer was nonexistent; no one knew who I was. I met one family at Maddy’s the day Jas and I had lunch there, and the mom asked if I had a family member in the show. No, I’m your sweet son’s accompanist.

So how to turn those two paragraphs into the learning experience? I learned I’m probably much better suited for a show that doesn’t have a pit orchestra. I had several discussions with one of the other intermediate division collaborative pianists. We joked about switching shows next summer—he’d take my production job and I’d take his workshop job. But that’s only if I go back, and right now “if” is a very big word.

And one more thing I learned, courtesy of my younger son: When you greet a performer after a show, don’t say, “You did a good job.” Of course they did a good job. Months of work went into that performance! Tell them you enjoyed their work or enjoyed the show. That’s what they did all the work to accomplish: your enjoyment.

What did I wish had happened differently?

wk4-lakeThe extra work that was given to me the first day I was there caused me much angst. I was assigned to a production, not a workshop, not individual lessons. The production was a lot of work. My score was around 150 pages long. I had a good grasp of the songs before arriving at camp, but had all the incidental music to learn—scene change music, chase scenes, murder scenes. A whole lot of dots on the page. I was contracted for a 25-hour work week (meaning actually classroom time, not practice time on my own—that counted for much more time), and then suddenly given, on the first day of camp, an extra hour a day to accompany voice lessons. For the first three weeks of camp, I felt like I was rushing constantly. When my morning rehearsal go out at 11:50, I walked as quickly as I could from the north end of campus to the south end, stopping along the way in my dorm room to drop off my backpack and use the restroom before continuing to a basement studio under the dining hall to accompany two voice lessons. Then at 1:00 I would race upstairs, grab something to eat, wolf it down in 15 minutes, and then swing back through my dorm and lie down for ten minutes before grabbing my backpack again and racing back to the other end of campus to my 2:00 rehearsal. I felt I was racing all the time. Then the last day of week three, I woke up with a sore throat. I had caught the cold that all the kids were passing around. (I still have not recovered from it.) On Tuesday night of week four, I basically broke down. I called Leslie and dumped my problems into her ear, and she encouraged me to contact our collaborative piano scheduler and ask for help. After hanging up the phone, I did just that. The next morning, I sent a note to the voice teacher whose students I was accompanying, and told my music director how I was feeling. She wrote a note to the piano scheduler also, and within a couple of hours, I received a return email saying the problem would be solved by the end of day. Then a few hours later, the email came that they had found two pianists to replace me and I was off the hook. From the first day of camp until that day, twenty-two days, I had suffered seven migraine attacks. Can you say “stress?” (And from that day to today, I have suffered zero migraine attacks. Just sayin’.)

What else? My housing situation. I was placed in an adjoining room with a young man. When I got there, the door was unlocked and ajar. I was able to pull it shut with difficulty (the door had only a deadbolt, not a handle). The second day of camp the door was ajar and it was at that point that I realized my “suitemate” was a man. I went to the Stone Center and asked them to send someone to lock the door, which happened within an hour. But things degraded from there. He had an electric guitar and amp and would play his rather strange compositions, or spend an hour trying to pick out the tune to the Star-Spangled Banner. Then he started bringing an “unauthorized guest” into his room late at night. About four days into my cold when I most desparately needed a good night’s sleep, he brought her in at 1:30 a.m. and their amorous noises woke me from a sound sleep. I felt trapped in my own room. I’m thankful for a thoughtful and kind “dorm mom” who took care of things for me, as much as they could be taken care of when you’re dealing with a young person who cares only about his own wants and needs rather than the rules and guidelines.

What did I miss?

LakeviewWaking up with Jas by my side very morning. Having my cats around. Making the usual summer memories with our friends: watching the sun set across Lake Erie, post-golf dinners, Saturday nights out together at our favorite restaurants. Life. I know it was only six weeks, but at our age, one never knows how many more great memories remain to be made.

The parallel stories

As my work experience degraded and I felt more and more incompetent, I was whisked back to the summer of 1971, when I was studying harmony with Nadia Boulanger in Fontainebleau, France. Before that, I had always been a big fish in a small pond. I went to small parochial schools through my first (hated) year of college. I was the best pianist I knew. I had never met another person with perfect pitch. I was always the star of any music theory class. Then I got to Fontainebleau. We took a solfège exam to see where we would be placed. There were five solfège classes; I placed in the top class, number one. There was a number zero class, the people who knew solfège so well they didn’t have to take the class any more. Everyone in class one had perfect pitch.

Mlle. Boulanger was a daunting presence. I was in tears one day before and two days after my weekly lesson with her. Like my law school experience twenty-five years later, studying with Mlle. Boulanger was one of the hardest things and one of the best things I ever did. To this day I use the harmony principles I learned in my studies with Boulanger. I’ll play a chord progression in accompanying a vocalist, then realize the tenor voice should have gone down a third rather than up a step. And I’m 21 again and not as dumb as I thought I was.

This summer gave me the same feelings, forty-four years later. The more I was corrected, the more I was given the stinkeye when dropping a note or not making the transition to a different voice quickly enough, the more incompetent I felt. I had days when I fought to hold back my tears until I could get out of the classroom.

When I got home from Fontainebleau in September of 1971, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t want to go back to college for fear of reinforcing my incompetence. I was engaged to a man I didn’t really like, but my mother had told me I’d never get a man because I was too obstinate, and this man had proposed, so surely he would be the only man ever to do so. (And in the South, we knew the only goal we had was to marry and have kids.) I had been working as a staff accompanist at Walt Disney World, but they had decided to import entertainers from California rather than hire locally, so I had no full-time job waiting for me there. So I just decided to get married. Two weeks later. And two weeks after that I knew I had made the biggest mistake of my life, and stuck with it for ten long, miserable years. Because that’s what we do.

As I sat on the piano bench in rehearsals, falling deeper and deeper into the mire of my inadequacies, all I could think was when I got home, I was going to retire from everything except my editing job. Just chuck it all. And never go back to Interlochen. Because I wasn’t good enough.

A storm rolling in - how beautiful!I felt the irony of the situation. Along with many other people, I have always said Interlochen was a place where kids who didn’t fit in at home came and could fit in together in their differentness. And here I was, feeling like I didn’t fit in. In the place where all misfits were normal. I couldn’t make it all compute in my brain.

The first half of this year was very difficult for me because of a lot of family stuff that was going on, and I thought I was escaping to Interlochen to do what I love to do—play for musical theatre productions. And yet the difficulties continued, and I started wondering if all of 2015 was going to be in the toilet.

I’m home now. I’m sitting in my comfortable bed as I type this. My fat cat is lying on the foot of my bed, snoring. My scaredy cat is getting used to my presence and starting to let me pet him again. When Jas’s alarm went off at 5:00, I didn’t know where I was or what day it was. In a few minutes I’ll get up, shower, dress, run errands, do laundry, finish unpacking. Life will start again. I’ll try to refind my center and go on.

That summer sure didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. It had hours of being the best summer of my life, and days of being the worst summer of my life.

Would I do it again? In my optimism, probably.

But for right now, I’m glad it’s over and I’m glad to be home.

Interlochen Arts Camp 2015, Week Six

wk6-lakepennTuesday, August 4, 2015

And it’s week six. The slippery slide down to final performances and emotional goodbyes has begun.

And I start the week at 5:00 a.m. with a horrible headache, clearly brought on by some barometric pressure changes, as evidenced by a sick stomach. Blech. I’ve got a dress rehearsal this afternoon, so I don’t appreciate this start to the day or week.

Quiet morning, as it was photo call. The director and photographer finished at 12:10, we took cast and crew pictures, then I raced back to my dorm room for inspection. One signs an inventory sheet at the beginning of the summer, and then the dorm supervisor inspects the room to make sure you haven’t knocked holes in walls or painted the walls fuschia. Then I went to health services; I’m sick of this cold. I can’t stop coughing and now I hear myself breath in the night. The nurse or PA or whatever he was listened to my chest and said it sounded fine. He suggested cough syrup and a nasal decongestant. I had hoped to get to Walgreen’s to pick up some OTC stuff, but couldn’t make it happen, so it must wait until tomorrow.

Grabbed a piece of pizza from the Melody Freeze to try to settle my stomach (don’t laugh at me—this is what works when I have this kind of headache), I headed back to the theatre for Dress Rehearsal #2. We were trying to use synthesized drum sounds to make up for our inability to find a drummer for the show, but trying to keep playing and start the drum machine in sync with Dr. Anne’s downbeat proved catastrophic for me. There’s only so much this girl can do with ten fingers and an overloaded brain. And two hours later the show was over. Tomorrow we will try to clean up problems that surfaced in today’s rehearsal.

I went to Hofbrau for a glass of wine and some comfort food, then decided I’d close my eyes for 20 minutes before Leslie’s dress rehearsal. Alas, at that precise moment, my nextdoor neighbor cranked up his electric guitar, and his ditzoid girlfriend started giggling at everything he said and did. Listen, we know exactly what he sees in her, and I’m not going to elucidate it on a family-friendly blog if you can’t figure it out for yourself!

wk6-leslieAnd then it was time for “Yo, Vikings!” Dan Ryan and Leslie Williams did a fabulous job co-directing this show, Mike Clark did a great job accompanying, and the stage manager and wardrobe mistress and other crew worked wonders in six weeks with these 4th-6th grade actors and singers. Great voices, great staying-on-pitch, great voice projection, great focus. “Yo, Vikings” is a sweet show with themes so pertinent to kids’ lives today. Congrats to the full cast and crew – Job Well Done!!

Then I headed back to the theatre to practice and try to master some of these settings on the Clavinova. All I wanted to do was go to bed, but that darned machine is not going to get the best of me!!

And now to bed. Four more sleeps at Interlochen.

wk6-lakesupperWednesday, August 5, 2015

Took strong medicine for my headache before going to bed, and didn’t wake up to cough all night. Yea!!

Morning rehearsal consisted of music director, director, and choreographer reviewing notes from Tuesday’s Dress #2. Then we spent the rest of the morning fixing problems. I went to Maddy’s for lunch so I could sit quietly in a corner and review my music. Then back to Harvey Theatre and half an hour of practicing before afternoon rehearsal, which was intensive review and tightening of several musical numbers.

For dinner I made a sandwich and went to sit on the deck overlooking the lake. I’ll miss that vista when I head back home in three days.

After dinner and half an hour of practicing, I met the rest of the “Oliver!” family at Corson Auditorium to watch the High School Musical Theatre Production, “Crazy for You,” by George and Ira Gershwin with book by Ken Ludwig. Wowzers! What a fantastic, high-energy production. Ever since I learned this would be this summer’s high school musical theatre production, I’ve thought the show dated from the 1930s. It actually dates from 1992, and is based largely on 1930’s “Girl Crazy,” by George and Ira Gershwin, with a few more old songs thrown in. I think in tonight’s production I was most impressed by the three young men who sang close harmonies in several numbers. Great ears on those guys.

Honestly, to see what the faculty and staff production team did in less than six weeks with these high school kids is sobering. If you had blindfolded me, sat me down in the theatre, and told me I was in a professional production in a Broadway theatre, I would have believed you. Corson Auditorium’s 950 seats appeared to all be filled with Theatre Division students, faculty and staff. And to hear those kids, from 3rd grade through 12th grade, applaud and cheer and yell for their theatre colleagues absolutely warmed my heart. The calibre of performances these kids are exposed to is inspirational.

And here’s what Wikipedia has to say, when I checked it again tonight: “In August of 2015, High School Musical Theatre majors performed “Crazy For You” at the Interlochen Arts Camp.”

How honored I am to have been involved in the joy everywhere around me this summer.

Home to bed, as our open dress rehearsal and opening are both tomorrow.

And “Taps” tonight was a duo of clarinetists.

The Phoenix Theatre

The Phoenix Theatre, ready for opening.
[Photo credit: Danny Fender, Stage Manager Extraordinaire. Love him. Can’t wait to see where his career takes him.]

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Oh, Thursday. (Written on Friday morning. Searching my brain to find good things to say about yesterday.)

Our group went to see “The Wendy: A Tale of Peter Pan.” This was the world premiere of an original work by Intermediate Repertory Theatre Director Scott Harman. Loved it. Loved how hard the kids worked, how perfectly they knew their lines, how they engaged and stayed in the moment. I loved seeing the “Proud Papa” look on Scott’s face when the show was over, and the smile on his face when I told him how much I enjoyed the show.

After about half an hour of last minute touch-ups and reminders to our cast, we broke for lunch and came back to get ready for our 2:00 Open Dress Rehearsal. I love each and every one of these kids. I don’t think any of them thinks, I’m just going to do a halfway job today. To me, to my perspective from my limited knowledge of theatre, they each did a great job. After notes from the director and music director, we broke for dinner. I ran back to my room and changed into concert blacks, and came back to review my music before our 7:00 start for opening night.

The thing that is the strangest in this performance is my invisibility. The audience sees Dr. Anne, but all they see of me is the back of my head. How strange to walk through the crowd afterwards and have no one unknown to me say, “Great job.”

There was an after-party, but I chose instead to commune with my pillow and my bed.

Maddy Building

Another beautiful sky on my morning walk to breakfast.

Friday, August 7, 2015

And now it’s Friday morning and, after waking before 5:00 with a headache and mastering that after two hours, I’ve got to quickly review my notes from yesterday, get dressed, and head to the theatre. The best part of my morning is the knowledge that the Jazzman is on his way here. When I get out of my 10:00 a.m. performance, he’ll be waiting for me, will throw his arms around me and remind me that lots of people think I’m a good friend and a good pianist and much more competent that my life circumstances have led me to believe.

As I was preparing to shut down my phone before the show was to begin, I got a text from Jas that he had landed. Then at intermission, got messages that he had been to my room to drop his bag and was out walking the streets and alleys of Interlochen Center for the Arts. Joy filled my heart.

My contribution to the music for the show went better today than yesterday. Here’s hoping that tomorrow afternoon I’ll pick up the rest of the notes I dropped today.

Lake Michigan

Sleeping Bear Bay in Lake Michigan

And then I found my honey, changed to street clothes, and started my return to our real life. We went to Maddy’s for lunch, where my director and two of my kids were all sitting around tables with their respective friends and families. Then we headed to Empire to visit Sleeping Bear Dunes. As I told you on Sunday, a very strong storm blew through the area. The Dunes National Park area was hit hard. The scenic drive and the dune climb were both closed. We drove out to Glen Haven so I could dip my toes into Lake Michigan, then started the circle route. When we got to Glen Arbor, we noticed that most stores and restaurants were without electricity. The area reportedly suffered winds in excess of 100 mph, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many trees either down or dangerously leaning. Glen Haven is a cute little town, and I’d love to visit there again, when they have power.

We made a decision to try to get together with Leslie tonight, so I left the circle tour and headed back to Interlochen, while Jas slept in the passenger seat.

Got back to the dorm and Jas immediately laid down on the bed to nap. Within ten minutes, Thoughtless Nextdoor Neighbor came into his room and cranked up his electric guitar. I was sure it would wake Jas up, and I was looking forward to his saying, “Now I understand what you’ve been going through this summer.” Alas, he slept through the entire repertoire. And then Giggling Girlfriend came in. Ten or so minutes later, Jas woke. After listening to her giggling, he said he could never live with that next door. Vindicated!!!

And off we went to Höfbrau for dinner at the bar. Leslie dropped in after the High School Musical Theatre Workshop. And she brought me Leland Blue earrings from her afternoon explorations!!!

Started packing on Monday or so. Packed more items this afternoon as Jas napped, and started carrying things to the car as we left for dinner. By about 4:30 tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be on our way.

Our stage manager, the talented, skilled, and kind Danny Fender, making sure props are set before our final show.

Our stage manager, the talented, skilled, and kind Danny Fender, making sure props are set before our final show.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Got up at 7:00. Showered and dressed and packed more things as Jas showered and dressed. Went to breakfast and ate with several of my friends. Quickly finished packing, then walked up to my parking lot and brought the car back to the dorm, and we loaded everything.

Went up to Upton-Morley Theatre and watching the Intermediate Musical Theatre Workshop performance. Loved it as much as I had three weeks ago. How do they make this happen in three weeks?!

Then to catch up with Jas, who had gone on a tour of the campus while I was watching the show, to lunch, where he met more of my regular lunch buddies, to the dorm to change into concert blacks, to Stone Center to turn in my room key, to the piano building to pick up my pay stubs, then to performance.

Costume Designer, Stage Manager, Director, Collaborative Pianist, Music Director, and Choreographer. Great team!

Costume Designer, Stage Manager, Director, Collaborative Pianist, Music Director, and Choreographer. Great team!

The kids did a great job. I did a great job. It’s done. I’m relieved. Enough said.

Said goodbye to my crew, posed for a couple of pictures, changed into traveling clothes, and drove off the campus at 4:04. Stopped in Flint at about 7:30 and drove down the street for a nice Italian dinner including a glass of wine.

Happy to be home!

Happy to be home!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Up, breakfasted, and on the road at 8:18. Stop for lunch at the rest stop, and arrive home at 1:15.

So greatful to be home!


If you aren’t on Facebook or don’t follow what I say there (ahem, a certain man who shares my life …), here are some of my posts for the same period as this blog post.

I’m doing a lot less schlepping ever since I realized I could use my car as a locker for my music backpack. (August 4, 6:31 p.m.)

In the interest of saying something positive, I’m loving hearing WYSO rehearse “Les Preludes” within hearing range of my dorm room. (August 4, 6:51 p.m.)

Sam Wilmott’s “Yo, Vikings,” in the hands of Dan Ryan and Leslie Williams, with Mike Clark on the piano great costumes and sets and stage management – what a show! Wish I could see it again – or see it for the first time without coughing and needing to leave the theatre! (August 4, 10:14 p.m.)

Hey, hey! A whole night’s sleep without waking up to cough!!! (August 5, 9:24 a.m.)

I have really enjoyed all my visits to Maddy’s this summer. There are times I just want to sit quietly, studying my music while I eat and not talking to anyone. Many thanks to the friendly staff who made the effort to remember my name and my favorite drink. — feeling sated at Maddy’s Tavern. (August 5, 12:53 p.m.)

And how about the bird that kept flying through the theatre tonight during “Crazy for You?” Was that three separate birds, or one making multiple trips? So lifelike! (AUgust 5, 10:42 p.m.)

My sweetheart got up at 3:00 a.m. to fly to Traverse City. Can you guess what he’s doing now after lunch at Maddy’s and a drive up the Leelanau Peninsula? Napping, of course. (August 7, 5:12 p.m.)

So glad nextdoor neighbor decided to crank up his electric guitar while Jas was trying to sleep. Not he can truly understand what my summer in Hemingway has been like. (August 7, 5:41 p.m.)

Almost halfway home. Checked into hotel. Will be asleep by 9:00 p.m. (August 8, 7:30 p.m.)

So I’m working on some new coping techniques: If you’re standing five feet away from me, in the middle of a room (or theatre) filled with much noise and/or music, and speaking sotto voce to me, I simply cannot hear you and I cannot read your lips. That’s just a fact. So instead of the criticism or correction you’re issuing, I’m just going to imagine you’re saying one of the following to me. “That was lovely.”, “You play so beautifully.”, “Keep up the good work.”, “That was a good choice of how to finger that run.”, or “We make a great team.” (August 8, 8:50 p.m.)

How did we deal with insomnia before we had smartphones? (August 9, 3:50 a.m.)

Dang! Wish I had discovered that mistake 10 rows ago! ‪#‎Unknitting‬ (Auguust 9, 10:41 a.m.)