Monday, June 26, 2006

White Hart Renaissance Faire

We live in the middle of a field. Literally. When our landlord runs cattle here, we have to open and shut a heavy metal gate where our lane meets the highway to leave or enter the field, as well as opening and shutting the single-wire electrified gate at the entrance to our yard. If we forget to shut the gate at the highway, the cattle can wander out and cause problems with traffic. If we forget to fasten the electric strand at the yard, we can end up with cattle walking through the lawn and eating the flowers. Like the 150 heifers that came visiting up close and personal a couple of years ago. The 150 heifers whose hoofprints still make it hard to push a mower over the grass.

Because we live in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere, we hardly expected to find ourselves right next door to a Renaissance festival. Yes. White Hart Renaissance Faire occupies the field just catty-cornered across the highway from us. Yesterday morning I went out to check the live trap for groundhogs (cute, but destructive little critters) and was regaled with bagpipe music floating over the fescue. We could hear great rounds of cheers sporadically throughout the weekend, and from our front lawn, we could see, albeit at some distance, jousting. Yes. I said jousting. With real horses. In fancy horse dresses. We can even hear resounding WHACKs from lances and swords.

I have a weakness for Ren fests. For years I dated a fellow who worked the one near Kansas City, and I used to spend weekends there wandering around in the ankle length green wool cloak and black suede, fringed boots that I wore for everyday back home. If I got tired, I just found a quiet corner backstage somewhere and settled in for a nap or to eat an apple and read the ever-present book. The boyfriend was busy treading the boards and chasing Ren wenches, and I loved every moment of those dusty, sunlight dappled, autumn days wandering alone amid the shops and street actors, bright ribbons and jingling bells and coins all around me. (Great Scott, reading the draft of this post, requests that I make certain to mention that HE was not the Ren fest boyfriend, and I shall add, "Indeed, not!")

The girls are dying to go, of course. Great Scott is making Noises of Interest in acquiring a kilt for future years of attendance, should the White Hart Ren Faire succeed, as we hope it does. If we go this year, I'll try to post some pictures. If anyone reading this decides to go, let us know, and we'll meet you on the porch with a glass of cold peppermint tea, should you care to drop by.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Today There Is Much Rejoicing: New Poet Laureate

Last night I received a note from an acquaintance on a message board I sometimes visit, a note that made me want to be so undignified as to get up and dance around the room. I couldn't wait until Great Scott got home to share the news with him.

"Guess what?!" I chirped as he came trudging down the walk at 9:30 after a long day.

"Donald Hall is our next poet laureate," he replied with a grin. (He knows me so well.)

You can read more about Don Hall on NPR's website. I've a great deal of respect for Hall for a number of reasons, perhaps the chief of which is that the man seems to know how to live a life and has done his best to live a good one. In a world of academic posing and posturing, that means a lot.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Promised Post—for Dale

I do not often post prayer requests here, but I’m about to make what I feel is a worthwhile exception.

Last Sunday my dad picked up and brought to church a young man named Dale who was traveling on foot (and by accepting any offers of rides he could get) from Canada to Florida to see his mother who is dying of lung cancer. He asked for prayers that she would still be alive when he got there and that she would be open to hearing what he was traveling so far to tell her.

This is all I know about Dale, but I know I have readers from Canada all the way to Florida, most or all of whom are praying people. Would you do this for Dale and for his mom?

Limited Internet Access Coming Up

My sister was told today that her baby (The Nephew), who is due July 6th, is unlikely to wait until then to make his debut. The doctor’s request to her was to do as little as possible to see if she might make it into next week, as a matter of fact.

Since I am the official Niece-Sitter for the event, I need to be off the phone and available. Which, since we’re on dial-up connection, means staying off the internet as well. So email-checking and blogging may be at a premium for the next week or so, although for the very best of reasons.

Monday, June 12, 2006

"Laura's Memories"--Show Times

For those of you who have asked or are curious, here are the showtimes for the Ozark Mountain Players 2006 production of "Laura's Memories", a musical based on the life and Little House books of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Fridays and Saturdays
July 21 & 22
July 28 & 29
August 4 & 5
August 11 & 12
September 15 & 16

That last weekend coincides with Mansfield's yearly Wilder Day festivities--parade, craft booths, beard and baking contests, games on the town square, all that fun stuff and more.

Location is Mansfield, Missouri. The show begins at 8:00 p.m. at the outdoor theater in the park by the schoolhouse. Usually there is some kind of local musical entertainment before the show and during intermission. A few years someone has even played Pa's fiddle (yes, the Fiddle), although I don't know if they're doing that this year. If you come, be sure to stop by the stage and say hello.

All summer during the daytime, Laura and Almanzo's farm, Rocky Ridge, is open and well worth visiting. The museum there is full of the Ingalls and Wilder families' belongings, and guided tours are available for both the house Almanzo built for Laura and the home Rose Wilder Lane (their daughter) built for them. You can learn lots of fascinating little tidbits about Laura and Almanzo's life together that were never recorded in her books on these tours, and admission for both of them are included in the price of the museum tickets. This year a new walking path through the woods between the houses is open, as well.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Friday Quote: On Artists

"When artists discover as children that they have inappropriate responses to events around them, they also find, as they learn to trust those responses, that these oddities are what constitute their value to others."

--Kathleen Norris
The Cloister Walk

(Speaking here of the objective observer part of the artistic self that often sits back and cooly watches, evaluating the artistic potential in even the most horrible moments despite the artist's intent or desire.)

Procrastination Aids: Death Predictions

Yes, this is hokey, and yes, it's morbid, and yes, I stole it (from Teri). But it's also entertaining, as I'll explain in a minute. Here's mine:

"Lucinda: At age 93, a tiger will maul you. Don't ask why, but you will be in a Burmese jungle."

Now, it's highly intriguing, wouldn't you say, the thought of being mauled by a ninety-three year-old tiger?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Play's the Thing

Last year about this time I wrote about the girls and their involvement in the Laura Ingalls Wilder play. Lo, the time has come again.

This year our older daughter is playing Mary in three scenes instead of one, and the younger daughter is Carrie in one of these with her sister. The girls were tired after staying up past midnight playing with their cousin last night, and I was braced for an emotional overload at rehearsal if they didn't catch on as quickly as they sometimes expect themselves to, but all went smoothly. Neither seemed phased at all by the new scenes, and both were cheerful on the way home. A rare and wondrous occasion to be sure.

I've mentioned before that my mother has done the costuming for Ozark Mountain Players for the last thirteen years. She is a veritable creative genius with fabrics, laces, patterns and thread, and she can match colors and costume cut with actors' bodily ecccentricities in such a way as to hide or bring out just about any physical characteristic you'd care to name. I do not exaggerate. However organizational skills aren't her forte. For thirteen years I've given an ear to her complaints and anxieties about keeping track of OMP's costumes, and last year was probably the worst year yet, resulting in the OMP officers requesting a complete cataloging of the entire costume inventory. That would be, yes, thirteen years worth. From a young age I have been, by her own admission, my mother's organizer. Now I have become OMP's as well and am currently photographing and recording costumes and putting the information on sign in/sign out sheets that require signatures and phone numbers. Mom is relieved. OMP is happy, and, honestly, I'm having quite a bit of fun.

The costume work was the only work I'd anticipated this year for OMP, besides sound effects and taking notes for Pat (the musical director) in the pit during dress rehearsals and performances. It's gotten a lot more complicated than that, however, and I found myself tonight being introduced to the cast as the new assistant director. This is what happens if you don't put on a costume and hit the boards volontarily. Pat, who plays all the music for the show herself, will be out of state on opening night, and she's asked me to run it via a pre-recorded CD. I'm also supposed to keep track of who will need understudies for which nights and let our good co-directors know ahead of time. And, of course, I get my favorite job from last year back as well: beckoning misbehaving underage cast members to join me in the pit. The eschatological implications are entirely too good to overlook.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Friday Quote: On Serving the Work

"Your goal is to make the book as good a book as you can possibly write at this stage in your life. And you don't stop until you have done that, and when you have done that, it's a mistake to play around with it because then you'll just succeed in ruining it.

"You begin to sense the point at which you have done as much revising as you can do. It's not exactly right, you haven't served it as well as it should be served, but that's as far as you can go."

--Madeleine L'Engle
from {Herself}

It's hard to let go, to turn your back on something--a poem, a painting, a performance, a position, a relationship--when you know you've not served it as well as it should have been served, when you know that you could (an abstract and non-specific could) have done better. Unfortunately we operate in a very concrete and specific world in which our efforts are wildly variant in their effectiveness. Time of day, the effects of our social contacts, our physical health, broken shoestrings, lost keys and an endless plethora of other physical and emotional factors all put our coulds in a state of wild flux. Our best today was not our best yesterday and will likely not be our best tomorrow. Accepting that is hard. It requires admitting one is human and fallable, and for some of us this is much harder an admission to make to ourselves than to anyone else. Vulnerability usually is.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


May and June are happenin’ months for our family. Lots of birthdays and anniversaries and celebrations. Sometimes they sneak up on me so fast that I find myself empty-handed on gift-giving occasions. This month Great Scott’s birthday falls on the day before Father’s Day, so loot is imperative. Good loot. Lots of loot. He’s worth it, I’ve found it, and what’s more, I actually got it ordered early enough that it’s already arriving! I’ll even have time to wrap it!

While this may not sound exciting enough to you to warrant the use of exclamation points, trust me; in this household it is. If the gift gets given within two weeks of the occasion, it’s on time.

Great Scott and I have a long history of gift giving...experiences. From our first Christmas when he gave me lingerie and upon seeing me in it immediately said, “Oh, Hon, I’m so sorry. I won’t do that again,” to the Valentine’s Day when I gave him a cross-stitched sampler instead of massive amounts of chocolate (Oh, Hon, I’m so sorry. I won’t do that again), our gifting has never been boring. Nor has it been particular about appearance. For a few years Great Scott’s chosen method of wrapping a gift consisted of a Stuff-Mart bag. When I noted that this was not the most inspiring way to give a gift, he wrapped the next one completely in duct tape, and was terribly proud of it. For my own part, I’ve been guilty of making him close his eyes and simply laying his present on his lap, Philistine that I am.

We’ve progressed to gift bags, now, like civilized people, and for the most part find this satisfactory. (At least I find it satisfactory--much more so than duct tape--although Great Scott may feel creatively hampered.) As for gift selection, we’re getting better. No more bustier nightwear or cutesy cross-stitch. We’ve learned to go for the eclectic, the slightly off-kilter, the quirky, even the downright bizarre, from the Jane Austin action figure to The Pop-Up Book of Phobias.

Marriage is work, some of it excruciatingly painful, some of it as bland and flavorless as a chalk shake. We’ve been through too much to come anywhere near denying this. But here is one of the small, intense pleasures resulting from years of stubborn commitment: knowing each other--knowing each other well enough to navigate even the treacherous passage of Choosing a Gift. No small gift in itself.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go make a lemon meringue pie for Great Scott in appreciation for the belated Mother’s Day gift that arrived in the mail yesterday: