Tag Archive | the Rep

Another day

Maybe it’s a misnomer to call this post “Another day,” since it’s been a week since the last one – the days have flown so quickly and so busily. But I love that song (and Paul, of course), and today is just another day in the life of a random little grandmother in Little Rock, Arkansas.

I’ve been 58 for a week. Feels like 57, which felt like – well, not 47, but the differences in years are minuscule the older you get. The cumulative effect is definitely felt, but there’s nothing you can really point to and say, “Well, boy, that’s changed since last year!”

Mother says it’s still that way for her. Hope it holds for me.

OK, so where did this blur of a week go, and why have I been such a bad blogger (bad girl! bad!)? In addition to work, we had the first garden club potluck of the year Tuesday – we didn’t join for years because we thought it was really a “garden” club. Nope. The Quapaw Home and Garden Club is a social club for eating, drinking, visiting with neighbors and seeing people’s historic homes.

We dig it, even if we don’t dig in the yard much.

Wednesday was the first night of 2013-2014 volunteer usher gig as Friends of the Rep, our fabulous local repertory theatre. This season is our 11th year, if I’ve counted backward right. I started in mid-season 2001-2002, I think, then John and  I met in July and he joined me as a regular that fall. We’ve been privileged to see so many plays.

Peace, love and ecology, baby, just like in my high school art classes. Somethings never change.

Peace, love and ecology, baby, just like in my high school art classes. Somethings never change.

Thursday was the fifth Sculpture Party and Fall Fest at The Bernice Garden, and though I work for Anita Davis, the lovely owner, I played hooky from working that night and just attended and enjoyed. You can see photos at thebernicegarden.org or on the  garden’s Facebook page. Here’s one little picture, of my lock on the Wish Locks Arkansas piece that was introduced Thursday night.

Speaking of art, I signed up to take a weekend class at the Arkansas Arts Center from my friend Catherine Rodgers, “Paint like Rothko – Color: Complement, Shade, Tone and Tint.” I haven’t painted since high school. We’ll see how well I do, but I’m looking forward to it. The small class sold out quickly and will be great, even if I’m not.

And speaking of art, let me just show off my husband’s handiwork again, now that the floors have cured.

John's design at the top of the stairs. He did it to surprise me a few years back, but with the finish, it really pops.

John’s design at the top of the stairs. He did it to surprise me a few years back, but with the finish, it really pops.

And here are the baseboards he's building. The walls look gray in the light, but they're periwinkle.

And here are the baseboards he’s building. The walls look gray in the light, but they’re periwinkle.

And just because this is a cool photo (to me anyway), I’ll add it. I pick the colors, but my painting days are few and far between with these damn shoulders.

Periwinkle to turquoise to teal.

Periwinkle to turquoise to teal.

Yesterday we upgraded phones, which always creates  a learning curve, but that’s good for our brains, though John is a little stressed over the leap from an old-school flip phone to my old iPhone, which he promptly upgraded to the new operating system. He’s dealing with my pink phone case and accessories for now,

Real men can carry pink.

I upgraded to the new iPhone, which prompted me to finally update my iPod Touch and get my iCloud and iTunes settings straightened out. Now I just need to upgrade this computer so I can fully live in the cloud. One thing leads to another.

Just like in life.

Haven’t got time for the pain

By the number of hits this humble blog has gotten on the post about my stepfather’s death from a bowel obstruction, I need to come back to the topic. I will, and I’ll also write about my own lifelong battle with, ultimate major surgery for and continuing problems with my own gastrointestinal system.

It’s laid me low again since Sunday night, which annoys the hell out of me and scares the people who love me.

And regular readers know that Daddy died from colon cancer – it’s rampant in our family and it’s still killing way too many people each year.

But right now, I haven’t got time for the pain. Things were scary for a while but are considerably better now (except for my damned right shoulder, which flared up again a minute ago because I forgot and cleaned a spot on the rug). So I don’t want to go there tonight. Positive vibes and all.

But I’ll come back to it. I don’t mind sharing ugly/embarrassing details if it can help anyone else.

Maybe you’ve figured that out.

Today, though, I’d rather talk about happier things. Like getting my new bicycle last Friday evening.

Annabelle stands next to Lolly's new bike, an Electra Wren from Spokes. Zuzu is not impressed.

Lolly’s new bike, an Electra Wren from Spokes. Zuzu is not impressed.

Like seeing the fabulous actors/director panel discussion on the Rep’s presentation of “Death of a Salesman” with Mother at the Clinton School of Public Service yesterday then taking her shopping for a new mattress.

Like seeing Nancy Pelosi today (again, courtesy of the Clinton School) in a packed and polite house under Robinson Auditorium with my friend-since-we-were-teens Anita.

Like the fact that my semi-tame, huge hummingbird is already back, even though he’s way too early and had to fuss at my window because I didn’t have his food out Saturday. Poor little guy. He’s going to be cold tomorrow night. John and I discussed trying to lure him into the house but  haven’t figured out how.

He’s out there right now feeding away as I type. I love that little guy.

Oh, and like spending $84 at Dillard’s for the following: one dress, originally $108; one pair of super-skinny red jeans, originally $88; a leopard print top, originally $29; two sleeveless tunic-length tops (one with a scarf!), one originally $48 and one $34.

There and back in about an hour. Nothing like finding uber-bargains (that actually fit) to cheer up a woman who hates shopping.

And now my aching shoulder decrees that I stop. It doesn’t understand that I don’t have time for the pain. Getting old is for the birds. Except I get five grandchildren for my aches and efforts!

Time After Time

Slowly things are gaining some semblance of normal. This week I finally got in to get my hair done and decided to go for a slightly new ’do (which is really a flashback to my senior year shag, but much shorter than what I’ve had for years). new do

I cut out two maternity tops for Liz, which I’ll try to get made before little Silas arrives, and two aprons so VernaJewel can get back in swing. Even managed to do some work for one of my freelance writing gigs – and enjoyed it mightily.

We did our volunteer gig at the Rep and enjoyed Gee’s Bend.

But time after time things will remind us all that this is the new normal and that things will never be the same. For example, yesterday I looked for my purple and green felted sari (from The Red Sari) to wear to the SoMA Mardi Gras parade and festivities (had a great time). It’s nowhere to be found. I know I wore it several times in the last days of Bill’s hospitalization, and trying to retrace my steps to where I might have lost it brought up lots of memories.

That will keep happening. For instance, today is Bill’s birthday. He’d have been 79. I told Mother several days ago that we’d do something distracting, so Julia, Mother and I went to see Anna Karenina at Market Street Cinema. Mother chose it, we enjoyed it, and the theater was pretty crowded for Market Street on a beautiful day. Kept us distracted for quite a while, even though we knew we were being distracted.

Time as flown since Dec. 29 erupted.

Speaking of time, John and I love time-travel movies, so last night after the neighborhood festivities we rented Looper. I didn’t love it – it was no 12 Monkeys or Somewhere in Time, two of my time-travel favorites – but it was OK. John liked it better than I did, so maybe it was more of a guy movie.

But it did remind me (cliché-fest ahead) that time waits for no one and time marches on. And sometimes things happen time after time. Like losing two dads to similar problems – and learning to live and thrive again afterward, a little smarter, a little sadder and a little more appreciative of how little time we have in the game of life and love.

And how we need to make every minute count and leave nothing important unsaid.

That’s worth being reminded of time after time.


When Petula Clark was belting out “Downtown” on KAAY (1090 on your dial) or on the Ed Sullivan Show – or on my little stereo, because, yes, I owned the album in elementary school – the lyrics weren’t far-fetched at all.

Even in Little Rock, Arkansas, before the late 1970s, downtown was exciting, vibrant, a place to be. Few things were more thrilling in junior high in the late ‘60s than getting up on a Saturday morning, getting dolled up in our mod clothes (and, once we were allowed to wear it, our mod Yardley of London makeup) and catching the bus from Indian Hills to downtown Little Rock for the day.

Oh, the stories I could tell, the memories I could share – and I will, but not right now. Because downtown is alive again, or at least waking up, and that’s what this is about.

Exciting times are here for downtown dwellers, thanks to people with vision – like our friend and Southside Main Street Patron Saint Anita Davis, she of Bernice Garden, the mural next to The Root Cafe, the Cornbread Festival, and a host of other SOMA projects.

Tonight was the fourth Bernice Garden Sculpture Party and Fall Fest. It was hopping and happening, and if you missed it, you missed out.

Bernice Garden has brought so much to the Southside Main Street area. Anita Davis, SOMA patron saint, is the owner – and the striking lady in black and white in the center of the photo, which I shot with my iPhone. Should have brought the big Nikon because the Sculpture party was a beautiful sight. And site.

We were a little south of the old downtown retail area of the bus trips of old, but I still managed to run into two high school friends, just like in the old days.

My friend Kerry owns Dreamland Ballroom, another downtown-revival dream-coming-true. We’re so proud of what she’s doing to restore a noble building with an important history.

Visiting with my friend Toni made me feel like a kid again, even as we discussed our impending 40-year high school reunion. (What? Us??)

This has been a good week for downtowners, and Tuesday was a huge day for the future of downtown. I was moved to tears by the presentation at City Hall of plans (and hopes and dreams) for the creative corridor that is in the works thanks to an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, matching city funds, private investments and more people with vision.

The photos of downtown in the glory days had to have made more eyes than mine misty, but the incredible vision of Stephen Luoni and Marlon Blackwell for the future that could await us is what moves me so – and fills me with hope.

The fences are up around the buildings between Capitol and Sixth. The Rep (where compadre and fellow downtowner Julia and I saw a great Henry V Wednesday night) is going to have artsy neighbors. It’s happening, baby.

Believe it or nay-say (as many continue to do), but exciting times are returning to downtown. You wait and see. The baby steps toward revitalization are getting a longer. Before you know it, we’ll be making great strides.

And someday my grandkids will be talking about the fun they have downtown.

Ease on down

I don’t miss teaching, really I don’t. It was definitely time to ease on down the road. But I do miss students, sometimes, and they’ve been on my mind since Wednesday night when John and I did our volunteer ushering gig for the Rep’s version of “The Wiz.” 

(The production has been extended, by the way, so you can still get in to see it – definitely recommended if you’ve never seen it or if you’re a fan. The dance troupe is phenomenal. We LOVED the Lion. And the Wiz is like Little Richards+Jimmy Swaggart, but in a good way.)

Neither the plot nor the songs – nor the students in attendance – got me to thinking about kids I’ve known and loved.  It was visiting with a former student and her parents and getting an update on her older brother, one of my first newspaper students at Central High School.

Hubby and I were busily handing out programs and helping people find their seats when a very tall and strikingly beautiful young woman beamed down at me and engulfed me in a big hug. There she was, tomboy, soccer-star Sarah, all grown up and lovely in her heels and bright coral blazer.

She’s finishing her junior year in college and doing just great.

That was never in doubt. She was always a sharp and responsible student.

Her brother, though, had a different reputation, evidently, before I knew him. To me, he was always an all-star and was quickly promoted to co-editor of “The Tiger” newspaper.

His mother tells a different story. She told me Wednesday night that I was the first adult, beside her and her husband, to have faith in and high expectations of her son (I’ll call him BT). She said she sees me as responsible for his success, which is considerable.

I think she’s giving me way too much credit. Another teacher also noticed BT’s considerable IT skills, for example; we talked about him. But what a compliment and how I appreciated hearing it!

BT, who according to his mother was “a slacker” before he fell in love with the school newspaper, got his degree in International Business with an emphasis in informational technology and a minor in Spanish, in which he is fluent. She says he has become outgoing (unlike the shy boy he was in high school) and has a cool and exciting job for a high-powered, worldwide technology company in Austin, Texas.

So very cool. But I never doubted he’d do such things – I could always see him at Google or Apple or some such place and encouraged him to pursue such a career. He’s not there yet, but he’ll only continue to rise. Super-smart guy.

Toward the end of his senior year, BT shyly invited me to his Eagle Scout ceremony, which John and I happily attended. l broke a rule and kissed him on the cheek afterward, in front of his parents and my husband.

I do believe the statute of limitations has expired, if you feel compelled to turn me in, in these days of hands-off teaching. (And I’m married to my attorney.) It was the right thing to do. He needed the love. And I loved him. Still do.

I loved so many of my students, even the ones I didn’t love, if you can understand that. I was never nominated for an award as a teacher, but my kiddos won plenty, and that’s good enough for me.

The only award I ever needed was to get through to some of them occasionally. Maybe make a difference in somebody’s life.

Wednesday night made my 16 years of teaching worth it all over again.

Daddy sang bass

The older I get, the odder the things that can make me verklempt. I never know when I’ll get choked up over something, though I can usually figure out what triggered it if I give it enough thought.

Tonight, momentarily, I fell into a burning ring of fire at the Rep (superb, BTW), over, of all things the line “Daddy sang bass.” It’s not like we really gathered around the piano and sang – at least not often, and usually only because Mother made us, but, OK, it did happen.

And we used to go to Shakey’s Pizza mainly to follow the bouncing ball, as far as my parents were concerned.

At Shakey's in the ’60s, you could sing with your pizza and your parents' beer.

My dad was a heck of musician (piano and trombone, a la Glenn Miller band style) and could definitely sing, though it was his father, whom the southern girls of the family called “Daddy Lou,” who was really a basso profundo.

As I’ve mentioned before, church was never my bag, but standing next to my grandfather when he sang the bass line gave me shivers. He also sang in a barbershop quartet at times.

Anyway, I decided to back-track the day to figure out the teary reaction. Didn’t take long.  Here’s how it went.

First thing this morning, I went to hear my friend John Brummett speak at LifeQuest – extremely fun part of an assignment for a class. On the way in, I noticed a way-back-when neighbor from Blackhawk who used to work long days with my dad – and for whom I spent many a night babysitting.

We visited afterward and it was nice. But he’s still here, and still relatively young. Daddy’s been gone since 1982. So there was that on the back burner.

Then I visited with my friend (and John’s wife) Shalah Brummett, who admired my shoes (they are cute, as you can see), which got us to talking about seersucker, which led me to tell her about when my friends Kelly and Gay and I had matching gray-and-white striped dresses our mothers made for us. We were about 8.

Hang on – there’s a point.

They were sleeveless with set-in waists and patch pockets on the front. Two of us had strawberry appliques on our pockets, I believe, and one had cherries. Don’t ask me which was which.

Anyway, we liked to wear them at the same time, and one day we were for some reason horsing around with firecrackers. OK, I was. Daddy was like a kid with fireworks, and he taught me lots of tricks, one of which was to hold a firecracker until the fuse burned down a bit, then toss it.

Somehow one landed in one of Gay’s pockets and blew it off her dress. Oops. No damage to my friend, but try explaining that one to three mothers.

Talking about that made me think about firecrackers, which is of course a Daddy memory.

(There was also the time in college when I was in no condition to be near firecrackers and one blew up in my hand next to my ear before I could toss it. Hurt like hell and I said, “Huh?” a lot for the rest of the night, but no permanent damage. And I’ll still toss a firecracker given the opportunity. So watch out.)

Factor in that the family used to watch “The Johnny Cash Show*” when I was a young, and there you have it. Verklemptness-mystery solved.

*Be sure to watch this clip – it’ll blow you away. Johnny Cash had some chops (not just sideburns) to land these guests.