"Katrina for Kaitlyn"-Grandmother Faces Ophelia; Guest Writer-On Acting; Pic of the Week

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Hurricane Heading Toward Grandmother

On the very day yon readers may be reading this missive, readers from across the fruited plain, indeed readers from around the world, Grandmother herself will be experiencing the effects of a hurricane.

If not being smack dab in the eyeball of Hurricane Ophelia.

As this is written the news reports continue reporting on this hurricane. The weather gurus seem not to know where the hell this thing is going but every time I look at the colorful weather maps the thing gets closer and closer to Delaware.

The tip of North Carolina often protects Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware from hurricanes. Which means that North Carolina gets hit more than the above states, heh.

In fact, as of this writing, the Governor of North Carolina has declared mandatory evacuation of some of the barrier islands off the coast of that state. AND has declared a state of emergency although some would argue this is an over-reaction.

Ophelia is now a category 1 hurricane but let us not forget that Katrina was a category 1 when it hit Florida and still seven people were killed in that state.

This brings the issue of Grandmother’s hurricane evacuation plan.

Everyone living on the Atlantic coast should have a hurricane evacuation plan, Kaitlyn Mae. Make sure you have one.

Your mother, she might not have one as she’s not as organized as Grandmother. For such words she will probably not talk to me for a month and send me nasty email but hey, let’s not go there.

Husband and I discussed our hurricane evacuation plan in light of Hurricane Katrina. We have, since moving to Delaware, had one hurricane scare by the name of Isabella.

We were new here to Delaware and, oddly, we also owned a home in Baltimore. As the hurricane honed in, we discussed the possibility of leaving.

Isabella, like Ophelia, was headed towards North Carolina. We discussed what we would do if a mandatory evacuation order went into effect. Husband declared he was going nowhere no matter what the state says. This when we had another house to evacuate to which we have no more.

In no way would either of us leave our pets.

This past week, stubborn husband now acquiesces that should the government issue a mandatory evacuation order we would, in fact, evacuate.

So we came up with a plan.

It’s not beyond the pale that Grandmother’s own home could be flooded by a storm surge, sweet Granddaughter, as we live only eight miles from the mighty Atlantic Ocean. Not likely, I’d argue, but could be, could be. The storm surge from Hurricane Katrina went inland ten miles.

Our plan is to be prepared for a hurricane and ready to go. Indeed there are evacuation routes right outside Grandmother’s door almost. Ways OUT and far from the ocean.

We will pack the Jeep and husband’s little car with as much as we can take. We will also pack up all of our pets.

We will then head to western Pennsylvania, somewhere around York, PA. Lots of hotels take pets but if not, we’ll find a kennel for them. We will NOT leave them behind.

We will hole up in the hotel and if our home is not flooded out, will head back home.

If the worst happens and Grandmother’s home is devastated like those in Mississippi and New Orleans, husband and I will both head to Massachusetts.

Why Massachusetts?

Not that I’m crazy about it what with all those liberals up there. But husband’s family all live in Massachusetts and when all is said and done, Kaitlyn, we have to fall back on our family.

I can’t depend on my family as they are all located near me and would likely be making their own plans. Don’t worry, Kaitlyn, I will take you, even your mother and father, with me if need be.

Hurricanes do hit Massachusetts, Kaitlyn, but I’m banking on the fact that if a hurricane hit us in Delaware it would likely not have the same impact on Massachusetts, if any at all.

Then, Kaitlyn Mae, well I guess we’d have to start all over again.

Don’t worry though. We WON’T be starting all over again in Massachusetts.

Likely we’d have to kennel our pets up north but we’d do that.

Anyway, just so yon Granddaughter and yon readers know with all this wit and wisdom about Hurricane Katrina, Grandmother has been there and done that.

Now, we have a plan.

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First Katrina/Kaitlyn post-the Beginning-9/6/05

9/7/05-Hurricane Folklore/Wisdom and Nastiness

9/12/05-Hillary's "Katrina Kommission" and the Debacle of the Debit cards

9/14/05-FEMA Email; Dumb, blond Louisiana Senators

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At first I said no.

Sometimes I open my mouth and the most idiotic things come out. That was one. Then I said yes.

And that was another.

Now that it's done, I can't imagine how it would have felt to sit on the sidelines, but I am most fervently glad that I didn't have to.

"Amahl & The Night Visitors" ran on Wednesday night to an almost full house of 775. And I -- I was in it. And so was Conner, my sun conure. The play called for a parrot and I have one tailored to suit it.

I'd like to say I have behind-the-scenes tricks to relate, or hush-hush bloopers, but I don't. We didn't have to glue the bird down to control him, no one fell off the stage, no understudies took over at the last minute. All I have are my memories and the feelings that took over my senses in a rush throughout rehearsal and the performance. Most likely, anyone who has been on stage,
however briefly, can relate...

Rehearsals were in the parish hall at the church. The actual stage, we were informed, would be ten feet wider and thirty feet longer than what we had to work with, but of course we weren't to be allowed on it until the night before the play.

"Don't turn your back on the audience," the director said, pointing at the fireplace. And the following week, "Don't turn your back on the audience," the director said, pointing at the door. Maybe I could remember to face them better if they'd quit moving around. "Don't worry about how you sound singing in the aisle," said the director."You're not actors." Then, a week or so later, "Act! You're not a portrait," said the director.

Hard work, acting. Step here, stand here, no not that way!, sing this, put this here, move just so, emote!, do this. And of course remember it'll be different on stage. You'll have to move faster, move slower, sing louder, sing softer, emote!

I don't think it's a profession I want to be in, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. It was grueling practice and some days we felt like we spent our lives in the church. Ah, but performance night it was all worthwhile.

I invited everyone I could think of to come. I sold tickets and hung the playbill in my cubicle at work. Surprisingly, most of the people I invited came. My father and his wife, three co-workers and their companions, another co-worker who retired last year, my husband, and a very good family friend. Although I didn't see any of them at the theatre, several attended the reception afterward. My first cast party, I guess you'd call it.

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On Tuesday, we had the actual stage to work on. The theatre is an eerie place when the audience is empty. It echoes. We spent four hours in that dress rehearsal, rehearsing an hour-long show. And still, when they kicked us out at 10pm, we didn't feel like we were done. (One man, who was supposed to be singing "...Bringing gifts to the kings" followed me down the aisle singing "...Bringing gifts to the sheep.") As shepherds, we didn't have a very big part and we were
allowed to sit in the audience seats and watch the rest of the play. Of course, being dress rehearsal, I didn't have my glasses on (no glasses, watches, or rings allowed -- we're poor shepherds!) and so I still haven't actually seen the play. Heard it, though, and could see
vague blurry shapes moving around. And Conner did wonderfully. He squawked once, during the dance. (Shame we couldn't get him to do that on cue.)

The night of the performance I wasn't nervous. It wasn't real, you see. I'd been to the theatre the night before and it was empty. Utterly deserted. Of course tonight would be the same, so what's to be nervous about? Of course I did have a couple of instances where I felt like I was six, being in my first play, with a parent in the audience... but that quickly passed.

Costuming and quick rehearsal before the play kept us all busy and rushing to and fro. Two more shepherds showed up half an hour before showtime -- they were known to the powers- that-be and so didn't need to attend rehearsals. However, their attire was completely inappropriate (think striped bathtowels while we had muted earth shades of ragged cloaks and shirts) and there was a flurry of work to find spare items from others' to get them presentable.

I became aware of a noise around 7:30. (Showtime at 8.) A sort of buzz, a low rumble, a background white noise sort of sound. It hadn't been there the night before. I tracked the noise down... it was coming from the vents in the room where we were waiting. The 'green room' it's called, even though nothing in it is green.

And as I stood under one of those vents, listening, I realized what I was hearing.

A very large crowd of people. People reading programs, chatting with neighbors, sneezing or coughing. People gathered to watch the play. Horror flooded me all the way to my toes as it sank in that there would be an audience this time. People I didn't know (and some I did) would be watching me, no, hearing me sing. Suddenly I was extremely grateful that I didn't have a solo.

The play began a little late, and the noise from the vents quieted down as the house lights dimmed. The first two principles were on stage and to my delight I found that I could hear them through the magic vents, too. Fifteen shepherds went silent and listened as Amahl and his mother sang about the star 'big as a window' with it's tail on fire. Fifteen shepherds silently cheered when the audience applauded at just the right time. And fifteen shepherds gave each other hugs and
high fives when the audience laughed on cue.

After that first release, we went back to our various tasks; some silently mouthed the words to the play that was still coming through the vent, some quietly rehearsed their parts, some mimicked the movements we knew were happening on stage.

All too soon it was time to stage for our parts and we were herded to a side door. It wasn't long before the door was opened and we filed quietly in to the dim theatre. Where there had been empty seats the night before there were now people sitting. Blurry, dark people. Their attention was focused on the stage, but it quickly shifted to the far side of the theatre as that group of shepherds began our song. They sang their two lines, then our side sang ours. I saw, even though I was trying not to see, the audience shift in their seats to look at us. Somehow we'd managed to come in without them knowing it.

Both groups of shepherds sang together as they walked down the aisles toward the stage. I had blinders on. Couldn't see anything to either side, even if I could've focused. My world was the shepherd in front of me, the ones on the other side, and the stage. Nothing else existed.

Our first part was short and soon over, then toward the end we were packed backstage next to the piano. There we had to sing softer than out on stage, and once that was done, it was curtain call. Come out, bow, clap for the principles, and introduce the pianist. The house lights go down and we rush off stage. So ended my first play.

My only regret is that, as a player, I didn't get to see it performed. Word is, though, that it was taped, and if so, I intend to get a copy.

So I can see my bird's performance, of course.

The Desk Drawer, writer's exercise email list

More Guest Writer HERE

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How to Improve Your Memory

It's really a simple thing, snort.

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More pics of week HERE

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