Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I'm trying out a new blogging app. Is this thing on?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

To Everything, There Is A Season,

and the season is winding down on Cookies for a Cure. This was conceived as a fundraising blog, a motivation and tracking tool for me, and it has been a blast. But as I retire (again) from fundraising, it feels like Cookies for a Cure has run its course.

However! I discovered something surprising over the last few months. I found that I like blogs, I like a lot of bloggers, and I like blogging. So, as Cookies for a Cure winds down, Lemonade & Kidneys will take its place. All I know about the new blog at this point is that it will be more personal and less single-minded than CFAC. I hope it will be at times funny, at times touching. I will continue to chronicle my baking adventures and will try to take better picures of my results. But really, anything could happen in this new playground! I hope you'll come and visit me over there.

And to put a final coda on the fundraising, here's how it breaks down:

Cookie Sales (July & August): $794
First Yard Sale (July): $692
Second Yard Sale (September): $250
Cabaret (September): $2,180
Direct Donations (July-September): $4,837

Total Raised: $8,753

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who encouraged, cheered, consoled, and donated along the way.

Global Warming, Part Deux

I'm sorely tempted to hand out cherry tomatoes to the trick-or-treaters.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

...Come Hear the Music Play; or, Wherein Garrick Learns the Value of a Good Running Gag

By rights the mayhem of actually getting ready for the Cabaret should have put me into a coma, but adrenaline's a funny thing. We had about one hour at home to shove food into the kids, shower, and dress before returning to the Players Club, and we made it with time to spare.

(This is where I brag about how smart I was to have dragged Michael over the bridge from New Jersey very early in our marriage. At that time we were at the Club 3-4 nights per week on average and spending a fortune on then-cheap gas and tolls. It's much nicer to be just 5 blocks away, lemme tell you.)

The Cabaret was structured in two acts with three main performers and several guests, including the pianist, Paul, joining in with some songs. Teddie and Donna could not be more different as performers -- Teddie tends toward the lyrical and heartfelt, and Donna is more comedic and raunchy. Friends of many years, they are great foils for each other on stage. Michael tends toward the vaudevillian with a penchant for the unexpected, and the whole evening sort of rollicks along like a bumpity freight train.

Teddie started out with a few lovely, lyrical songs ("You Ought To Be Here With Me" and "Gainesville") and then Michael swung in to "The Saga of Jenny" with audience participation on the chorus. (By the third song in, most of the audience have downed at least one glass of wine and are starting to feel loose.) That set the stage for two bawdy, comedic numbers from Donna -- "A Trip to the Library" and "The Alto's Lament." By now, the audience is completely won over and feeling no pain. Michael and Donna followed with a duet -- "As Long as You're Happy". The mood softens as our wonderful friend Paul takes over with "Grateful" and "When Sunny Gets Blue."

And then comes my favorite part. Two years ago at his last cabaret, Michael put in a number that Quin and Garrick could participate in, complete with a bit of "business" beforehand. A repeat performance was clearly in order. This time, Michael wrote a bit for the kids where they rushed the stage, demanding to be allowed to perform. Michael "grudgingly" acquiesced, and the kids launched into warm-up exercises including Garrick's recitation of Richard III's big speech ("Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer......."). The audience was howling by the fourth word, and Michael quickly reigned the kids in to perform the song he'd lined up for the three of them -- the Captain's Song from HMS Pinafore, with customized lyrics:

M: I am the father of the family
Kids: And a very good father too!
M: You're very very good,
and be it understood,
I am proud of both of you.
Kids: We're very very good,
and be it understood,
Quin: he is proud of me --
Garr: me, too!

And so forth -- you get the idea. It was just as heart-tugging-ly, disgustingly adorable as it sounds. They continued for two verses and two choruses, by the end of which the audience were collectively headed into sucrose overload. Thank god for Michael's sister, who went on next with a very dry and sardonic stand-up routine -- the perfect chaser to all of cuteness that had preceded it. Act One came to a rapid conclusion with Michael singing "Jackie" and Donna and Teddie teaming up to sing "For Good" from Wicked.

Intermission was a confusion of raffle tickets, hugs, quick hellos to friends and family, and no potty break. Bad planning on my part! As intermission was winding down, I saw Michael whispering to Garrick off stage left. As the house lights began to dim, Garrick bounded back up on stage and sallied once again into "Now is the winter of our discontent........." Michael leapt up after him and chased him off the stage while the audience howled.

Michael, Teddie and Donna gave a bouncy, upbeat rendering of "It's Been a Long Day", after which it was time for the raffle drawings. Much hilarity as somewhat-inebriated audience members tried to read the numbers off their tickets. Then, while Michael and I distributed baskets and had our backs to the stage, Garrick, without ANY prompting at all, jumped back up on stage for another try: "NOW is the winter of our discontent..." Michael had a very hard time keeping a straight face while chasing him down, and the audience positively fell about. Garrick has therefore ALL BY HIMSELF learned the first rule of the Running Gag: it is much funnier in sets of three than in sets of two.

The next few songs brought the mood to a somewhat more serious place -- if you consider a love song sung by John Hinckley and Squeeky Fromme serious. Liz and Chris, guest performers on loan from the Mainstage production of Steven Sondheim's Assassins, sent chills down my (and everyone else's) spine singing "Unworthy of Your Love." Then Chris sang a piece composed by an upcoming young lyricist/composer duo who spent much of their youth at the Players Club. Brian Lowdermilk and Kait Kerrigan are phenomenally talented, and you can hear the song Chris sang here. (Go ahead, I'll wait -- it's worth it!) Last year Kait and Brian had a successful off-Broadway production based on the Henry & Mudge children's books -- they are a pair to watch, for sure.

That was followed by: a novelty number wherein our very game pianist Paul "acted" a scene against an old recording of Don Ameche (don't ask), Donna's lovely renditions of "I Get a Kick Out of You" and "Charmin's Lament," Michael's always tear-jerking version of "Unusual Way," and Teddie's graceful interpretation of a favorite of ours -- "I Can't Be New" by singer/songwriter extraordinaire Susan Werner. If you like standards a la Cole Porter, do yourself an enormous favor and go here to listen to some excerpts from the album I Can't Be New and then order yourself a copy. (If you like other kinds of music, check out some of her other albums -- she's a true musical chameleon.)

Heading into the final stretch, Teddie joined Paul on the piano bench for a rousing rendition of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," which was followed by a boisterous performance of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" by Michael and Paul. Michael spent some moments on the necessary thank-yous, and then invited all of the performers back on stage for an audience-participation round of "You've Got A Friend in Me" from Monsters, Inc. for the grand finale.

There you have it. The cabaret brought in $2180 and a wonderful time was had by all. Now, how do I talk Michael into making it an annual event?.........

Monday, October 29, 2007

Can I Have A Do-Over?

Pop quiz: what is the least welcome on a Monday morning?

a) Waking up to house temps of 62* due to a wonky furnace thermostat
b) Arriving at your office and promptly spilling your cup of tea all over your desk
c) Feeling the beginning of a urinary tract infection coming on
d) All of the above.

Happy Monday, all -- I hope you're off to a better start than me this morning!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Need A Hug

It's health care open enrollment time at Michael's Big Corporate Job, and they have ditched all of their no-deductible plans in favor of weird deductible/health savings plan/consumer driven hybrid nonsense. I've been reading the material for over an hour and I still don't know how much it's likely to cost us to insure Michael and the kids for 2008.

Hold me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What Good Is Sitting Alone In Your Room?....

Michael and his ladies. Teddie is on the right; Donna is on the left. Donna and Michael have played a married couple on stage many many times. I wish I had her legs.


It's been over a month since the cabaret. How on earth have I been spending my time?....
  • I went to a liver doctor
  • and had some blood work done
  • and it was all fine (so we don't know why I'm slightly jaundiced)
  • the kids went to the pediatrician with respiratory infections
  • and had to be on nebulizers night and day
  • but I still took my trip to Chicago
  • and baked my tushy off, which will be the subject of another post
  • then came back and did a fundraising walk
  • and went straight from there to the hospice to be with my Gram
  • where I caught a head cold
  • and gave it to my brother from Singapore
  • while we cleaned out my grandmother's apartment
  • Then I went to back-to-school night at the elementary school (but missed the middle school)
  • and took a kid to the pediatric nephrologist
  • and had a big yard sale
  • followed by an even bigger trip to Goodwill afterward
  • and tried to return the house to normal after that
  • but we had a plumbing crisis
  • so thank goodness my brother was still in town
  • 'cuz he can fix anything
  • but then he had to return to Singapore
  • and the rest of us tried to spend some time at da shore to decompress
  • and came back to IEP meetings at school
  • and taking a kid to the pediatrician AGAIN (that's THREE in one month but who's counting?)
  • 'cuz this kid seems to be sleepwalking from time to time
  • and was coughing so hard in his sleep he couldn't catch his breath
  • which is scary at 3am
  • but the Flonase at bedtime seems to be helping
  • (the coughing if not the sleepwalking)
  • and last week my glasses broke very suddenly
  • and I don't have back-ups
  • so I got fancy new glasses
  • and they pinch my nose.
Phew, I'm exhausted. Pass the tequila.


So, we had this, like, um, cabaret, ya know? To, like, raise money? Cuz my hubby is soooooo funny and like, entertaining and all, when he gets up on stage? And he has friends who are funny and talented as well? And you can, like, drink wine while they perform, so it's really, like cool?

When Michael hosts and organizes a cabaret, he likes to suggest material to the performers, in addition to them bringing their own ideas to the table. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the American musical theater -- the more obscure, the better. This tends to yield interesting results, such as current popular tunes from say, Wicked, nestled in next to something from The Magic Show (what?). It keeps the audience on their toes, and hence engaged.

I'd say we were in pretty decent shape heading into the cabaret weekend. No one was sick, we had about 65 RSVPs for a capacity of 90ish, which seemed like a good ratio. The performers -- Michael and our friends Teddie, Donna, Liz, Chris, and Paul -- were all seasoned pros, sure to put on a great show.

One of the realities of putting on a cabaret at The Players Club is that space is in high demand.* We have a wonderful facility, but with a seven-production Mainstage series and six Second Stage productions, rehearsal space is always at a premium. In addition, there is a long-standing relationship between the Club and a kids' training program run by the Young People's Theatre Workshop (of which I was a charter student lo these many centuries ago). The result is that the Second Stage space is under the YPTW's exclusive use on all Saturdays until 3pm, giving us a mere four hours to clean, set up, prep, and generally get ready for the 7pm start time.

*Just because I love the photos, you can see shots of my production of Man and Superman here, if you like.

I had promised Michael weeks earlier that I would handle all "front of house" duties, leaving him free to direct the real action. "Front of house duties" basically consist of setting up (very heavy) platforms in the audience space, arranging (90 or so) chairs around little cafe tables for the audience to sit on (at?), and putting out some light refreshments. One is then free to sit fetchingly at the doorway and collect people's money as they arrive.

No problem, right?

I had inveigled a few theatre friends into agreeing to help out on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately one of them became ill, and the entire task of setting up the space fell to me an our good neighbor, Candy. Thank the good lord for Candy, because there is no way in heaven or earth that we would have gotten it done without her. In addition to hauling chairs with me for 3+ hours, she came back for the show and hawked raffle tickets while I tended to the gate.

Tending the gate was like being the hostess at a really relentless open-house. Of the 95 people who piled in, I knew all but about 3 of them. Madness! I was holding up the line with my excessive hugging of audience members, but tant pis. It was wonderful to see so many friends (many of whom we no longer see regularly, due to our having stepped back from theatre projects these last years), and needless to say, incredibly touching to have them all come out in support of our fundraising. We had suggested to folks that they bring checks made out to the Foundation rather than pay in cash, and virtually everyone either rounded their check up from our suggest ticket price of $12 each, or used it as an excuse to make a nice hefty donation (Cousins Mark & Pat, I'm looking at you!).

During this time, Candy was working the room selling raffle tickets. Did I mention the raffle baskets? This was really a last minute inspiration and one that would not have happened without some truly remarkable friends. Michael is a regular at The Happy Rooster in Philadelphia, where he has befriended Rose, the owner. Mooooooooonths ago he was telling Rose about our fundraising cabaret idea, and she (unprovoked!) whipped out a $50 gift certificate. Well, we sat on that for a while, thinking we'd auction it off or some such. Then, a few weeks before the cabaret, I had a dinner date with my wonderful ladies Maureen, Cindy, and Barb. These ladies and I all met and became friends years ago through our work with non-profit arts agencies in Philadelphia. I was updating them on the cabaret and mentioned Rose's lovely gift certificate, and they each instantly came up with ideas of additional items that they could procure through their contacts. (I, being a corporate sell-out, no longer have contacts in the arts. But my car is paid off, so it's all good.)

The result of all of this spontaneous brainstorming was two wonderful raffle baskets, each with a restaurant gift card, each with multiple passes to the SouthStreet Seaport Museum, one with great seats to see the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center, and one with a year-long family membership to the Philadelphia Constitution Center. Do my ladies rock, or WHAT! They pulled this off in literally 10 days or so, which is perhaps the most remarkable thing of all.

And the raffle baskets brought in about $500 in revenue. Woo-hoo!


In the interest of delayed gratification (and in the interest of getting home in time for dinner), I will post separately about the show itself. To be continued!