ACT Theatre’s New Core Company

Seven great actors will form the Core Company at ACT in 2016, an innovation by new artistic director John Langs–that’s him on the right.  The others, from the left:  G Valmont Thomas, seated; Kirsten Potter; R Hamilton Wright; Connor Toms; Jasmine Jean Sim; Keiko Green; Lorenzo Roberts; John Langs.

I am a long-time fan of Val Thomas and Bob Wright, both very talented actors who have brought many different and difficult roles to life on Seattle stages. I am especially following Val Thomas, whom we have seen at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and though we never saw him there, he’s spent a few seasons teaching at our alma mater, the University of Nebraska, in the Drama Department. Looking forward to meeting and seeing the other five, who will have roles in at least three productions during ACT’s 2016 season. (You did know that I am now on the board of ACT Theatre, didn’t you?)

ACT Theatre's photo.
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SHOW ME YOUR FACE, One Year Later

People ask me why I chose to publish my novel, SHOW ME YOUR FACE, as an independent project rather than try to find a conventional publisher. Lots of reasons. My experience with publishers was not always happy.

When HOLD THE FAT, SUGAR & SALT was first accepted by Perigee Books, a division of The Putnam Publishing Group, my co-author and I were ecstatic. Then Perigee released Hold the Fat without an index (corrected in the second printing). We pointed out to our editor that the contract required an index and the proof did not have one, but she said it was too late and we had such a great table of contents we didn’t need an index, and we were stuck with that. HOLD THE FAT was my favorite of our four cookbooks; it’s out of print now.

Our contract with Perigee included an option for our next book, We were ecstatic about that, too,  but when we were ready to write the next book, we learned that Perigee expected us to first produce a complete manuscript and then wait 45 days while they decided whether or not to accept it. That next book was a collection of recipes that were “fast and fantastic!” (Says so on the cover.) We wanted to call it “THE CLOCK WATCHERS LOW-FAT,LOW-SALT COOKBOOK,” emphasizing the speed of  prepping these recipes, but the editors thought “clock watchers” was pejorative. Instead they came up with THE QUICK AND DELICIOUS LOW-FAT, LOW-SALT COOKBOOK. Really snazzy!

Moving on, I wrote BACKPACKING WITH BABIES AND SMALL CHILDREN. I was really happy at first with Wilderness Press in Berkeley. Backpacking with Babies had first been published by Signpost Books, and then when they allowed it to go out of print, Wilderness picked it up for second and third editions. I chose a wonderful photo for the cover of the second edition, but the third edition came out with no cover consultation at all! I made sure that my contract for CAMPING WITH KIDS, my next book with Wilderness,  included cover approval. (For more information about my books, go to Goldie’s Books in the heading of this blog.)

So we come to SHOW ME YOUR FACE. I spent many years thinking about this book and wrote it with many interruptions. Over the years I had submitted queries and chapters to various agents and publishers, and always they took weeks and weeks to finally respond. And then the response was, “show us a complete manuscript.” I finished the manuscript in late 2014. I knew I would turn 82 on my 2015 birthday. I knew from my experiences with publishers that it could take months and months, sometimes a year and a half, to publication, and I wasn’t sure that I would have that much time. So I turned to CreateSpace, the publishing division of Amazon. Now I am not only author and publisher, but also chief of marketing. I am a bookseller, in addition to everything else. Marketing is a pain! Should I have waited, and found a publisher? I don’t know. What do you think?

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Protected: Walkie-Talkies URBAN (Urbane) Hikes

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My Mother’s Strudel

Just  a few bites left--strudel disappears very quickly

Just a few bites left–strudel disappears very quickly

My mother was not a great cook, but she was famous for two things: her tayglech and her strudel. Both of these delicacies are two bite snacks, good with tea or coffee or milk, if you’re young enough. Her tayglech, which translates roughly from Yiddish as “little bites of dough,” were unique, not just a blob of dough cooked in honey, which is what some people think of when they think of tayglech, but a morsel of dough with neshomah, soul, snail-shaped dough with a filling of cherry preserves and nuts and then cooked in honey. That’s for another time. About strudel…

When I say strudel lots of people ask if I mean apple or cherry strudel, as made in Vienna, a big serving of fruit wrapped in flaky dough that requires a fork and is more like a pie than a cookie. My mother’s strudel is finger-food, flaky-tender dough wrapping a mixture of fruity fillings that was never the same twice. Basically it was raisins with crushed pineapple plus orange marmalade plus any opened jam or fruit preserves in the fridge that needed to be used up. So sometimes there was cherry preserves, or apricot or strawberry or other good things, but always good tasting.

My mother always said she would “make up a batch of strudel.” A few weeks ago, when we were invited to a friend’s Sabbath dinner, I decided that I would make up a batch of strudel, and I did. It was so easy, and so much fun. I decided that I could do that easily, strudel would be my signature dish. I would make strudel once a month. Easy. That was in October. I haven’t made strudel since. Now it is December. What happened to November? What happened to the strudel?

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My Thoughts About Anne Washburn’s “Mr. Burns, a post electric play,” now at ACT Theatre

Some of my best thoughts come to me while I am doing something relatively automatic, like walking or showering or exercising. All during my Jazzercise session this morning, I was thinking about this play, which opens in the present with a group of people who have survived the collapse of all the energy systems in the world. I came home ready to begin writing, and discovered the power was out, probably due to the high winds this morning. I couldn’t use my computer for anything, I couldn’t make phone calls on my wireless land line (except in the laundry room which has a hard wired connection), I couldn’t do laundry, I couldn’t charge my cell phone, I had no heat or light. I was post electric…

So back to the first act of Mr. Burns. There they are, this small group of survivors, huddled around a campfire, keeping themselves focused, sane and alive, by telling stories. Stories–that’s what the play is about, and the story this group has chosen to recall is an episode of The Simpsons, the Cape Feare episode.

I used to be a fan of the Simpsons, until I switched to Masterpiece Theatre on Sunday nights, but I have never seen the Cape Feare episode. My favorite is the Streetcar Named Desire episode, where Marge plays Blanche. Cape Feare was originally seen by many as a movie, actually two movies, the first created in 1962, the second a re-make in 1991. Don tried to order either from Netflix, moving them to first and second places on our list, but received for the first time ever a note that the movie was in high demand and we would have a long wait. Neither one can be streamed, but he found this short description: it’s about a pederast and rapist.

However, we were able to watch The Simpsons Cape Feare episode just by typing Simpsons Cape Feare on our browser. Briefly, it opens with Bart receiving threatening letters from Sideshow Bob who is in prison. Bart was involved in putting him away. Sideshow Bob is paroled, and the Simpsons are sent to live on a houseboat on Terror Lake in the Witness Protection Program. Bob follows them, ties up the family, and cuts the boat loose. Bart has a last request: he asks Sideshow Bob to sing the whole of the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire, which he does.

Returning to the play…

The first act, as I said, set in the present, with survivors huddled around a campfire telling the story of the Cape Feare episode of the Simpsons. The second act, seven years later, has the survivors in some kind of building, maybe a dwelling. They are still telling the story, and as they recall certain lines the line has value, and the person who remembers that line has ownership of it. So it’s a kind of economic system with the mediums of exchange being lines from the episode. Still no electric power, but the survivors are creating “programs” with commercials and music for television, using candles and mirrors in an empty television set. You have to see it to get it.

Intermission followed, and while people my age were saying, what’s it all about? younger audience members were trading lines that they remembered. (There were sections of the audience who laughed and laughed all through the first two acts–not my section.) The third act takes place seventy-five years later. The set is amazing, elaborate and colorful. The story has become a kind of ritual, with the actors donning Simpson masks. They act out scenes from the episode. “Cape Feare” is on a lake and the stage morphs into a boat, with the villain after Bart.

That’s my take on the play. Now that I’ve thought about it a little, I want to see it again. The reviews have been ecstatic and the audiences love it. Single ticket sales are soaring. Now you’re on your own!

 

 

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ANOTHER AMAZON FRAUDULENT CHARGE, or was it?

Just back from three great weeks on an Overseas Adventure Travel trip to Chile and Brazil, Don was checking our credit cards charges, and found a ringer! Amazon had charged us $23 on VISA for a sale in September, when we were far away in the jungle in Brazil. (We are very sensitive about these fraudulent charges; while we were in Cuba in 2012, someone racked up $1700 in charges on our Amex card for Play Station cards from Amazon.) Call the credit card company right away, I said on this Saturday afternoon. Don’t wait! There might be more! So he did. And this is what he found…

The very helpful clerk was able to find the record right away. He said, it’s from a boat. Were you on a boat? And we remembered, the last week in August we were on a boat, the Otter, sailing up the Amazon River, and as we left the boat, in early September, we had a laundry bill and a bar bill that we paid with our VISA because the Amex card didn’t work. And that’s the moral of this story: there is more than one Amazon. Not all vacation Amazon charges are frauds.

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Cruising Up the Mississippi

012Cruising up the Mississippi River in a steam driven stern-wheeler at seven miles per hour, I was reading the River Times for the next day trying to decide whether to go ashore tomorrow morning or stay on board for a tour of the wheel house, and it suddenly occurred to me that this was the most restful and relaxed vacation of my entire life. From the moment we boarded the American Queen in New Orleans until we left her in Memphis seven days later, we were totally taken care of. Coming on board we were greeted by a reception line of the boat’s officers. Then Bobby stepped forward, introduced himself as our steward, led us to our cabin (our bags were already there, picked up from our hotel room) and asked what time we wanted our coffee the next morning.

Our days went something like this: a soft knock at the door, and Bobby appeared with a coffee tray. The two-hour breakfast and then lunch, both in the dining room set with starched white linen, was a chioce between buffet and menu. In the morning we could be picked up by a Hop-On, Hop-off bus to tour one of the quaint river towns, all with ante-bellum houses and local museums, or we could check out a bicycle and tour on our own. During lunch the gangway would be pulled up and we would set off up the river to our next town. We could amuse ourselves by exploring the boat, from engine room to wheel house to the gym and pool on the top deck, or we could be entertained by the musicians playing in the various gathering spaces throughout the boat or attend a lecture by the “Riverlorian,” a title invented by the steamship company for the very knowledgable employee whose job it was to inform us about everything on board and on the shores of the big river.

Dinner was a more formal affair. There were two seatings, at 5 and at 8, at assigned tables. At 7 o’clock, while the dining room staff was busy re-setting the room for the late dinner, all the guests were invited to the theatre for a lively musical performance, different each night, with a cast of four talented singers (two men, two women) and a seven piece band. We had the late seating. After dinner we coulld adjourn to the engine room bar, where there was live music and dancing, or to the captain’s bar for quiet conversation and soft piano music. Or back in our cabin we could read or watch not-to-be-missed television favorites.

On our last day, it was up early for a tour of Memphis–Beale Street, Gibson guitars, and St. Jude’s Hospital–followed by a visit to Graceland. Our luggage came with us, and the last stop was the Memphis airport for the trip home.

This article originally appeared int Laurelhurst &Windermere Living August 2015

Click photo to enlarge.

 

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My Amaryllis, continued from February 2014

Yesterday my walking group visited the botany greenhouses at the University of Washington. We saw a very stinky plant, big and ugly, and full of flying insects that were attracted to the smell that we found repellant. To each his own, I guess. We saw other carnivorous plants, watched one of them devoured a little green worm, and proceeded  through wonder after wonder. Then, in the hallway between greenhouses, I saw–a gorgeous, tall, healthy flowering amaryllis, and I thought OMG (because there were lots of students about, and that’s how they speak), I have forgotten my amaryllis. Usually I bring them up out of the dark in early February. This year, because our fall and winter were so mild, I left them outside over long, until November 16. Then we had a spectacular accident. I was removing the tired bulbs to their basement resting place. I carried them, one by one, from the front porch to the dumb waiter in the living room. We live in a tall house. What my granddaughter calls our “mini elevator” allows us to carry big loads, like three or four armfuls of laundry at one time, through the five levels of our home. Granddaughter doesn’t think much of it. She said, “You’re the only people I ever heard of who have to have a mini-elevator to carry their laundry up and down. Most people carry it in their arms.”

Back to the accident. I had all six amaryllis plants in the dumb waiter car. They were at the living room level; I was in the basement, four floors below, the lowest level of the house. I was pulling on the ropes to bring the car down when the car stopped. I tugged on the ropes, and I heard a terrible noise. Fortunately I didn’t look up into the shaft to see what was happening, because the whole car came tumbling down. The bottom of the shaft was full of broken wood and amaryllis plants. Amazingly, only one pot, the smallest one, was broken. We were able to rescue five pots with bulbs and green leaves intact, carry them off to a dark corner of the basement, and forget about them. Until that visit to the greenhouses…

One big fat blossom coming up, and a new baby bulb on the side

One big fat blossom coming up, and a new baby bulb on the side

Healthy bulbs starting to turn green

Healthy bulbs starting to turn green

When I got home, I went to the basement to check on my amaryllis, the first time since the accident. They looked awful.  No one had come by for several months to trim away the green leaves as they faded. Now they lay limply over the edges of the pots. I cleared away the dead leaves from the bulbs and brought the pots up to the laundry room. I could see the tips of new growth coming up from the bulbs, but it was white, not green. Still, it’s easy to tell by the tips whether we will have leaves or flowers. Two of the bulbs showed fat tips, that will become flowers. I watered the bulbs and left them to enjoy the indirect light coming from a high window. Now they are beginning to turn green, and they have big, fat blossoms forming. They look very healthy. Stay tuned.

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My New Book

All writers of non-fiction have a fantasy that some day they will write a novel. I am no different, so I am very pleased to announce that I have just published my novel, Show Me Your Face (CreateSpace 2015). You can read all about it by clicking here, or go up to Goldie’s Books in the menu at the top of this page.

Posted in domestic violence, Flowers, Food, On Writing, Paraplegia, Reviews of Goldie's Books, Seattle | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A Great Site to Visit on Kaua’i—Makauwahi Cave Reserve

Entrance to the cave

Entrance to the cave–Photo by Erik Cords

We have visited the island of Kaua’i many times, without ever hearing that there was a prehistoric cave that attracted visitors and researchers from all over the world. According to the visitor’s handout, this cave “is itself a huge fossil, formed in the heart of an ancient sand dune that turned to stone over the ensuing 400,000 years. Groundwater etched away the limestone and dripping water mantled the walls with flowstone formations. About 7000 years ago the ceiling in the cave’s central room collapsed, leaving behind a freshwater lake in the midst of Hawaii’s largest limestone cave.”

The lake is gone now, but the walls of the cave still stand. If you have ever seen a sinkhole like the cenote in the Yucatan, or the Gouffre du Padirac in the Dordogne region of France, you can imagine this scene: you stand at the bottom of a great round abyss, rock walls going straight up, the sky high above. You can walk a trail that circles the top of the walls and look down into the cave, or you can find a narrow entrance, drop down on your hands and knees (mind your head), and crawl into the cave.

Last March we were on Kaua’i (that’s how it should be spelled) when we heard about the cave and that it was open on Sundays. We decided to visit the amazing site. It wasn’t easy. We left the pavement at the east end of Poipu Road and drove a long way over a deeply rutted dirt track, even longer because we missed an important turn and approached the grounds from a beach. The directions we had were vague. We left our car near a lot of other cars(!), followed a path through some greenery to reach a beach where lots of people were swimming and sunning. We walked along the sand to a stream, turned in-land to follow the stream to a bridge, crossed the bridge, and MADE A WRONG TURN! We should have turned right, which would have taken us to the entrance to the cave. Instead we went left, circled the high rim of the cave and crawled through the tunnel entrance just as the guide was closing up. We had time for just a short visit, to peek into the depths of the cave, and to buy a copy of Back to the Future in the Caves of Kaua’i by David A. Burney.

If you go, you will be better prepared than we were, because you have read my post, and now you know that you can go to: www.cavereserve.org, for more information, or you can email to makauwahi@gmail.com to get on a mailing list for info about the cave.

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