My brother and uncle hold a charity golf tournament every year in August.  It is a really fantastic thing they do.  I was lucky enough to go last summer because it was during my time off between jobs, but this summer it fell between performances that are a week apart.  Stressful travel, but perfect timing.

My sister and parents also flew out to Michigan for the tournament, which they usually do.  And it was another successful year, but more importantly my family and I had a great time together.  We get on each other’s nerves constantly.  It’s sorta adorable, and we’ve learned to roll with it.  Ya know, we’re family. 

We all stayed in my brother’s house on Lake Pontiac, and when I flew in on Sunday (after a 6 am flight from Albany - ugh), we went right out on his brand new pontoon boat.  It’s freaking sweet.  And the whole time, all I wanted to do was scream, “I’m on a mother-f---ing boat!”  However, my mom and dad would not have appreciated my pop culture reference.  However, I did say it quietly to my brother who got a kick out of it.

The golf tournament on Monday went smoothly.  I actually played pretty well (It’s only a scramble, so there’s no pressure).  I birdied (2 strokes on a par 3) #18 by myself with a slamming shot off the tee within 10 feet of the hole, and then I sank the putt myself.  WHAT!

Tuesday, we went to a Tiger’s game for about 4 innings.  It was 90-something degrees out and on the baseball stands, it felt like 115.  Then, of course, we had to go to the casino.  My parents’ favorite pastime the last few years is gambling at casinos.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re usually playing penny slots or, at most, quarter machines.  They have a good time together, so we had to go when we’re that close to one in downtown Detroit.  It was fun for a little while.  I ended up just going to the bar, grabbing a long island, and texting Ryan (that is after I quickly blew the money my mom gave me to spend -- love feeling like a 10 year-old).  My aunt and uncle joined us at the casino as well, which was great because we used my uncle’s casino points to get dinner at the largest buffet known to man.  My guts were hurtin’ after that; it was awesome.

Now I’m waiting in the airport to fly back already.  It was such a quick trip, packed with fun stuff, but the best part was just hanging out with my family.  We only get to be together all five of us a few times a year, and we each cherish that time.  Sometimes I wish we lived closer together.  My sister and parents live in PA, my brother lives in MI, and I currently live in TX.  It’s not an easy commute, but we make it work.  I love them and missing them already.


Ithaca is Gorges 08/01/2010
I recently had a wonderful two-day trip to Ithaca with the fabulous Tulsa Savior.  It was such a great vacation to see my beloved city of higher education.  The lovely Pineapple Painter hosted us, which was especially gracious due to the last minute decision to embark on our adventure.  The Pineapple Painter’s boyfriend also hosted us (He even took Tulsa Savior out on a motorcycle ride).

We did quite a bit considering we were only in Ithaca for about 24 hours.  We arrived around lunch time and started off the trip with an exceptional meal at Moosewood.  Tulsa Savior, being a vegetarian now, really loved the menu and cookbooks.  The food and drinks were fantastic as usual.  After our delicious meal we headed to Taughannock Falls, where we walked the trail to the bottom of the waterfall.  Did I mention the weather was perfect?

Going to a few wineries was on my list of things to see and do.  So we then hit up three different wineries along Cayuga Lake.  Nothing like trying over 15 different Finger Lake wines.  After our little wine trail, we headed to the Commons for dinner.  We started off with a cocktail at Simeons, which brought back some hilarious memories from college (Anybody remember tech of Seussical?).  Dinner was at Taste of Thai with Pineapple Painter and her beau.  Since we’ve been in Cooperstown where the restaurant choices are slim, it was nice to be in Ithaca and have some great ethnic restaurants available.  Loved the pineapple fried rice!

After dinner, we went to Moonshadows, which was a favorite college bar for IC students.  I was floored when we walked in.  They tore down the wall opposite the bar and doubled the size of the room.  The added space was turned into a dance floor and area for a DJ, who kept us dancing all night long, although he mixed music about as well as a blender mixes golf balls.  Tulsa Savior and Pineapple Painter also made some friends on the dance floor, and that kept me entertained the rest of the evening.

After spending the night with our generous friends, we headed to College Town Bagels (of course the one in College Town), and then toured around Cornell for a second and took a look at The Maze, which was my house my senior year of college.  I wasn’t about to visit Ithaca and not at least take a look.  I then selfishly dragged my friends to Ithaca College to visit the Theatre Department.  My mouth just dropped when I saw all of the renovations.  Practically the entire building has been gutted and refurbished:  new classrooms, new offices, 2 new studios, etc.  Those kids are extremely lucky.  It was reminded me of how lucky I was to go to IC.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without that education.

After I spent way too much time inspecting every little detail that had changed in the Dillingham Center, we headed to Wegmans.  Typically a grocery store would not be on a list of hot spots, but let me tell you Wegmans is awesome.  I can’t do it justice.  If you’re near one, go.  After our little excursion to Weggies, we said goodbye to our lovely host and went to Aladdin’s for lunch, another great meal at another great Ithaca treasure.  It was the perfect way to end a lovely vacation.  We had a blast, and I am so happy that we found the time to visit.  Ithaca is Gorges.
Getting in Shape 07/27/2010
The two best parts of summer are eating and drinking.  And we are professionals in upstate New York.  If you’re looking for local beverages, we have breweries, wineries, and cider mills to quench our never ending thirst.  There are some restaurants, but grilling becomes a sports event during the summer.  Hot dogs and cheeseburgers are a staple, of course; however, we’ll grill just about anything:  vegetables, seafood, steak, potatoes, grain.  The list goes on and on.  Unfortunately, so does the tire around my waist.  And it’s time to get it under control.

I wanted to start doing Yoga.  I thought it would be good for me, especially since I am the least flexible human being alive.  However, I can’t sit-up straight with my legs extended.  I am incapable of this simple task to stretch, and now I’m a little scared that Yoga would just be an embarrassing event.  And it’s at 8 am 45 minutes away, so I might try it later this summer, although it’s not going to be my main source of exercise.

Luckily when I was at the store and looking for a Yoga matt, in hopes of starting to do some physical activity, I found Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred DVD.  I know exercise videos are sorta lame, at least I think so.  And I wasn’t sure that this was the right answer for me; however, at least 5 of my friends have sworn that this video is the real deal and really works them hard.  It was only 10 bucks, so I bought it.

When I bought it I was feeling a little sick, so I didn’t exercise with the video right away, but I did watch it.  And I thought, “Well I can do this.  It doesn’t look that intense.”  Please remember I haven’t exercised at all in months, and when I do it’s basically only cardio.  So yesterday I woke up at 9:00 am (much better than the 7:00 am wake-up I’d have to do for Yoga).  I put on my gym shorts and a T-shirt.  I filled two diet coke bottles with water to serve as my make-shift hand weights, and I turn on the DVD.

Holy crap was I in pain.  I was huffing and puffing after circuit number one.  The program is split into 3 circuits, and each circuit is comprised of strength training, cardio, and an ab workout.  It’s not easy, although it’s only 20 minutes long.  I knew my body was going to hurt the next day.  And I was right, but I didn’t expect it to hurt immediately and the rest of that day.  I felt like such a wuss.

Well, today is Day 2 and I woke up to do battle with Jillian again.  I wished it would be miraculously easier.  It wasn’t.  I’ll probably have to wait for day 10 before that happens.  Oh and the video has 3 levels, and I’m only on level one.  Ah well, at least I’m doing my best to get in shape, and I think I’ve found something that’s going to work for me.

Hopefully, I’ll still be able to walk after Day 3.
5 Years 07/24/2010
A few weeks ago, Ryan and I celebrated our five year anniversary with a DiGiorno garlic bread pepperoni pizza, crinkle cut french fries with mayonnaise and ketchup, and watching The Silence of the Lambs.  Romantic, right?

In the summer of 2005 at Glimmerglass Opera, we started dating.  We still argue about the exact date.  At one point we even picked a date just to be consistent, but it never truly stuck.  July 1st or 2nd is when we celebrate, which was around the opening of Lucie di Lammermoor that summer.  I think both of us expected a summer fling, actually I know we did because we joke about it, and that’s where The Silence of the Lambs comes into play.

I have never liked scary movies, and I always assumed this was one of the scariest.  It’s not that I’m actually scared.  I like to say that I startle easily.  Exemplified by the time I was seated in a movie theater with about 20 GO production people watching the preview for Snakes on a Plane and screamed at the top of my lungs when the snake jumped out at the audience at the end.  I wasn’t embarrassed at all.  I swear.  

Anyway, our first summer together Ryan wanted to watch The Silence of the Lambs.  I, of course, said no and explained that I never have seen nor want to see that movie.  So Ryan said, “Let’s make a deal:  on our five year anniversary we’ll watch the movie to celebrate.”  I agreed assuming that this fantastic summer fling wouldn’t quite last five years.  Ryan, I’m sure, made that statement with the same thing in mind.

However, here we are, five years later.  We celebrated with a showing of the movie.  Ryan passed out about 15 minutes into the movie.  I barely could keep my eyes open as well, but I finished it.  We were exhausted from work.  Can you believe we’ve lived in 3 states together (NY, MA, & TX), traveled across the US several times, have little Oscar to keep us warm, freelance in over 6 states combined, and have lasted 5 years?

It’s kinda amazing.  I love him.


Remember that time I started a blog, and then I never had time to keep up with it.  Well, the last three weeks have proved quite challenging, and blogging has not been my top priority.  Actually staying above water has been my main objective lately.  And it hasn’t been easy.  I’d sit here and complain about everything; unfortunately that’s boring.  So instead I’ll tell you about how much weight I’ve gained.

If I had a scale, it would be broken.  I can’t believe what life in upstate New York can do to you!  Too many lunch and dinner breaks with no where to eat except a pizza joint, fried food/burger places, Chinese, or McDonald’s.  It is slim pickings to say the least.  I also never make the time to pack a lunch.  I need to get back to that because after a day of eating out twice and then a couple beers (or G&Ts), my waist line is ever expanding.

Thinking I was going to be good and not eat out, on my most recent day off, I roasted a chicken from the farmer’s market with lemon, rosemary, and garlic, but that lasted for only two meals between Ryan and me.  It was delicious.  If only it wasn’t so short lived (the meal, not the chicken).  Finding the time to grocery shop AND cook is like finding a needle in a hay stack.  Don’t you love my over-use of clichés in this blog entry?  It makes me want to puke…or that might be the fried chicken wrap I had for lunch or the cheeseburger I had for dinner.  Ah well.

Check out this link my friend sent me on facebook.
The Literary Southern Belle has asked for more pictures of Oscar, but she’ll have to deal with just getting this link until I have more time.

I’m not the oldest or most experienced stage manager, nor am I the youngest.  And as my fabulous friend Little Ms Bossy would say, I’m “pushing” 30 and feeling it.  However, there is one thing I don’t think I’ll ever get over:  I get nervous on day one.  That first day of rehearsal just stresses me out.  And I don’t know why.  It’s usually one of the easiest days.  In the world of opera, we usually have a music rehearsal.  I sit and listen.  DONE!  And yet, there are always butterflies in my stomach.  The feeling I have forgotten something important, that I haven’t checked every minute detail of the rehearsal room is always there.  It’s ridiculous really.  Especially with my current show:  I have 5 singers.  Several of whom I already know, and the rest I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews (and by reviews I don’t mean the ones that are written in Opera News, but the ones from other SMs and directors).  To me, it’s great to work with an extremely talented singer; however, I just want him/her to be nice and friendly.  Singers can be needy; singers can be forgetful; singers can be self-centered; however, none of that matters if they are cordial.  I don’t care at all.  I love my job.  I love singers.  I already love my current cast.   And I had no reason to be stressed about today, but nevertheless, I was.  Now for a glass of wine or maybe scotch.

People are often afraid of driving where there is a lot of traffic and huge highways with six lanes.  However, the roads of upstate New York are just as treacherous.  I would even say they are more dangerous.  Specifically because you never know what you’re going to find on the road up here.  Today, I saved a tiny turtle on the GO drive way, which I thought was not only humanitarian of me, but a great way to start my new project:  Signs of Upstate New York!  The one sign this region is missing is a turtle crossing sign.

Let’s begin with all of the warning signs of what might be on the road.  And the roads around here are hilly and windy, so you can easily run smack into something you didn’t see coming. 

Deer are actually a major problem.  Someone every summer hits one, and they’ll demolish your car, and you, if you’re not careful.  It’s part of orientation to warn the newbies about the deer.  Yesterday I saw a family crossing the street right by the opera.  It was a mommy and two cute babies.  Their bodies were smaller than Oscar with cute speckles, and their legs were itty-bitty and wobbly.  Adorable.

During our busy season, this is the most important sign for all travelers.  It's probably the most famous sign to anyone who works at GO.

Cow Crossing:  this is actually one of my favorite warning signs.  Several dairy farms have them because they have grazing pastures on both sides of the road and have to take their cutie cows across the dangerous path.

Below are some other warning signs that are around the farms and quite typical.

The snowmobile warning is hilarious because I’m always around here in the summer.  I also enjoy the qualifier that the sign is only in effect from Dec. 1 to April 1.  Let’s hope so!

The Costumer Conqueror asked me to take the above picture; it’s a sign I haven’t seen in years.  It brings a smile to her face every time she passes it.  I don’t travel the road it’s on very often, so it was a treat for me today as well.

One of the main inspirations for this project was the Amish of New York State.  They provide us with cookies, jams, cakes and other goodies, but they also create the need for additional signs, which I find delightful.

One of our favorite events up here is the Fourth of July Parade in Springfield Center, NY.  It is filled with local food including Brooks BBQ, unique floats, high school bands, and so many other spectacles.  As the sign says, “The Place to be on the 4th of July!”  Unfortunately, the parade is July 5th this year, and I’ll be stuck in rehearsal.

There are several hand painted signs.  Ryan’s grandfather was a sign painter/builder by trade, and the skill is still alive in NY.  I particularly like the Cherry Valley Sign.  The rest of the photos are a collection of signs I find interesting for one reason or another.  I wish I was a better photographer, but that wasn’t really the point.  ENJOY!

I was really nervous about my housing this summer at GO because there was going to be another dog living with us.  I wasn’t sure Oscar the Amazing Wienie Pooch was going to be a good roommate or how our new doggie roommate was going to react to Oscar.  You just never know with animals.  And Oscar has never lived with another dog.  He visits the ladies often at the dog park and works his magic, and his cousin Saxer the Weimaraner and he are best friends, but regardless I was nervous.

Our doggie roommate Ellie turned out to be the best dog ever.  Yes, I’m saying it:  she is amazing.  Ellie is a shepherd dog mix that knows about one thousand commands and is super-duper friendly with other dogs, cats, and even children.  When Oscar and Ellie met it was love at first sniff.  They chase and play and fight over Squirrel.  It’s truly a beautiful relationship.  We couldn’t be more happy with how everything panned out.

And the whole GO campus has become dog friendly.  Several people in admin bring their dogs to work, and Ellie accompanies her daddy to work every day sleeping soundly in the production trailer (and by sleeping soundly, I mean being fed treats by dog lovers of every kind).  So basically Oscar has a dance card full of little and big dogs to meet and greet.  I’m thinking of having a dog party :-)

One of Ryan and I’s best friends also brought her little pooch to the fabulous upstate New York.  He’s a pistol of a Chihuahua named Icarus.  Icky doesn’t necessarily like other dogs; he’s very territorial and not afraid of a fight, but Icky’s Mom and I were determined for Oscar and Icarus to be best friends.  A Memorial Day Eve picnic was their first meeting, and it was not candy and roses.  There was a lot of barking, and basically Icky tried to eat Oscar’s face, but he eventually calmed down a little bit.  We weren’t completely confident that anything would change, but I wasn’t going to give up.  So the next day I brought Oscar back to Icarus’ pad and it was much more productive.  There was some butt sniffing and no biting.  Breakthrough!  Both parents were very proud.

Oscar is so excited to be making so many friends at GO this summer.  Last time he was here in August of 2008, he only met a few people, which was completely boring.  He’s psyched to have so many doggie friends.  He’s especially eager to meet Penelope the Greyhound and Stella the Shy One.  So many poochies, so little time.
It’s been two weeks since I posted last.  My time in PA was amazing.  Ryan and I think we gained about 10 lbs each from the delicious smorgasbord of meats and foods that my parents love to cook.  I also played some golf with my dad and sister, which was great.  I really want to start playing more, and upstate New York is the perfect place.

We made it to Cooperstown last week.  And as soon as we pulled into the GO parking lot, we were on the run.  The week has flown by seeing old friends, meeting new people, and of course, working.  I am thrilled to be spending the summer here again.  It’s like home.

However, it’s never exactly the same when you return home after being gone.  There are always little things that change:  some for the better, some for the worse, and some completely unnoticeable.

One of the delights of working at GO is the fact that we rehearse in different found venues all over the region.  We rehearse in school gyms, church-owned spaces, grange halls, and our newest rehearsal space is a Masonic Lodge.  That’s right.  The lovely ritualistic space of Dan Brown novels will be part of my every day for a few months.  I’d tell you all about the lodge, their members, and the artifacts in it, but then, they’d have to kill me.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
“What do you do for a living?” is one of my least favorite questions in the world.  Explaining to someone what a stage manager does is difficult enough; saying that I work for opera companies doesn’t make it any clearer and usually brings the conversation to a halt.  So it’s always awkward, and I kinda think my job is uninteresting to most.  However, I love being wrong.

Yesterday, I accompanied my parents to my dad’s hormone treatment (No, he’s not having a sex change).  It was my first time meeting his medical oncologist, whom my parents are very satisfied with.  Of course, after I introduced myself to the doctor, he asked the dreaded question.

I started off, “I work backstage for opera,” hoping that the conversation will end with, “That’s very interesting.”  However, he beamed with excitement saying he’s an avid opera-goer.  Completely ignoring my father, Dr. Opera began asking questions and talking up a storm.  He wanted to know if I worked with the lights or the scenery, and I then revealed that I’m a stage manager and facilitate all of the backstage operations.  It was comical, and even cute, the way he went on and on telling me about his favorite opera singer (who is from his native country) and that he regularly attends the opera in DC (Washington National Opera).  After a good 8 or 9 minutes, he finally turned back to my father, who although was being extremely proud was thinking, “Hey, I’m the patient here.”