Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Karaoke Caution

A Perfect Post – May 2007 For this month, I choose Pendullum's story about her husband's karaoke stardom at a wedding reception and the aftereffects, sixteen years later. Please go there are read, especially if you're in need of a laugh! The other Perfect Posts can be found at the sites of the splendid hosts, Suburban Turmoil and Petroville.

And it does seem fitting, with how crazy the month has been, that I accidentally chose an April post for the May awards. Let's just let that slide, shall we?

In other news, the show went very well tonight with quite a full house. It feels good to be under stage lights again. All the costume changes went smoothly and no one broke a wrist, which is definitely not to be taken for granted, given an unfortunate accident at tech rehearsal.

Only somewhat unrelated: The little dude got his dad's beautiful eyelashes. If I had those lashes, I definitely wouldn't bother with the fake ones and all that glue.

I'm glad y'all liked the Victorian gown details from yesterday. Lara says that I should post about my blue ombre ballgown with matching slippers sometime too. We were thinking through all the things that need to be blogged while sitting backstage, looking like Wild West saloon girls in bloomers, corsets, and far too much makeup.

Last night, I'd forgotten I was still wearing my makeup and jumped when I saw myself in the mirror. "There's a hooker in our bathroom! Oh wait, that's just me."

Using lots of makeup remover this week. One more night!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Abs of Steel – Really, I Mean It

I gain fifteen pounds every night this week, donning my 1840's Victorian ballgown for our dance concert. Would you like to see how it all works?

Undergarments first. This item is called a "combination" because it combines the top (chemise) and bottom (drawers) into one piece of clothing. It's not technically correct for the era, because they were two separate items of underwear until the 1870's. However, the combinations are much more convenient for backstage and quick changes, and the audience won't be seeing them anyway.

Next, the corset. My waist size is the same as before I put it on, but it changes the wearer's shape from the natural oval cross section at the waist to something more cylindrical. The corset is also a true foundation garment – a kind of architectural element that supports and distributes the weight of the gown across its spiral steel bones. So yes, I do literally have abs of steel while wearing this costume.

I'm almost five pounds lighter than I was before I got pregnant, but either three years of not wearing Victorian clothes has made me forget the restricted feeling, or the pregnancy expanded my ribcage. Breathing was noticeably more difficult the first rehearsal back in the gown. By tonight though, it's not such a big deal.

Then we add the petticoat. Mine is layers and layers of tulle under an eyelet cover.

I originally had the petticoat made to wear under my wedding gown, also an 1840's style ballgown. I added a ribbon for my "something blue," and I've left it there for the fond memories. The eyelet fabric has turned slightly pink from years of wearing it under my big red dress.

Speaking of big red dresses, here's the skirt. It's a red-blue shot silk dupioni with blue silk trim. Dupioni is a crisp silk, so that it holds shape instead of being floppy. A "shot" silk means that the threads are one color in one direction and another color in the perpendicular direction, giving it a spectacular sheen. My gown looks mostly red, but when the fabric moves, the blue threads add to the depth.

Now, the bodice of my Victorian ballgown. Well, one of my Victorian ballgowns. I'll write about the others sometime later. If you live in Northern California and you're interested in a custom vintage costume, let me know and I'll hook you up with my costume designer. She rocks.

A sleeve detail.

The ringlets and flowers that I pin in my hair.

No outfit is complete without matching slippers.

The end result:

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Not a Girly Girl, but Getting Close

While sorting through my dresser to find all the hairpins and flowers I needed for the show this week, I uncovered three partially used and mostly dried-up tubes of eyelash glue. For someone who is marginally competent with this kind of makeup thing, it was a bit of a stunner.

As I was tossing them out, I noticed that the packaging might be different from tube to tube, but there is apparently only one manufacturer of adhesive. False eyelashes must not be a particularly lucrative business. The fourth one is the one I bought so that I'd actually have a working tube.

The actual attaching-of-false-eyelashes went so-so tonight at tech rehearsal. I got one stuck fairly well, but the other only had a vague connection with where a biological eyelash would be located. Better luck tomorrow, when the photographers attend.

Also tomorrow: Ever wonder what goes underneath those big, poufy Victorian gowns to make them big and poufy? A photo essay awaits.

Monday, May 28, 2007

My Left Bicep

I had a totally unexpected workout this weekend. SwingDaddy rode some track cycling races, and Q and I dropped by the velodrome to watch.

We enjoyed the cyclists flying around the banked track, and Q cheered on his dad. "Go, Go, Go!"

That evening, my left bicep and right wrist were really sore. Hmmm, that translates to child on left hip, camera in right hand. It may not be how the professional photographers get their shots, but hey, whatever works.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

In Which We Actually Get to See Friends

We were so successful in seeing friends this weekend that I'm writing this with my fingers crossed, so that I don't jinx us. Friday night, we had dinner with a family with whom we'd cancelled plans previously because of child illnesses. Today, we went to a poolside picnic at the YF's, with whom we've cancelled plans twice due to various bouts of croup. And we also finally got to catch up with another couple with whom we've cancelled plans three times, because of yep, you guessed it, croup.

We had a great time, and it makes us excited to host something ourselves, once the show is over.

The toddlers are all amazingly beautiful. Another family brought their baby, and I couldn't believe how small and floppy he was. Do they really come in such miniature sizes? That was only two years ago.

And now they are practicing martial arts, complete with little bows and "sank yous" at the end of each exhibition.

P.S. Did you notice my newly shaped eyebrows? Yes, I went to a professional, because I was hopelessly out of my depth. More on beauty products in posts this week.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Happy 93rd Birthday, Frankie!

Today is the 93rd birthday of Frankie Manning, one of the most amazing dancers from whom I've been privileged to learn. He became a star in the Savoy Ballroom of Harlem in the 1930's, made Lindy Hop famous, and invented insane acrobatics that choreographers still copy today. He's also inspirational for his resilience. When swing fell out of vogue, he went to work for the post office, and was lured out of retirement thirty years later to travel the world again, this time as a teacher. SwingDaddy and I have always been awed at his patience and clarity, not to mention his fabulous storytelling.

Dancers around the world banded together today to buy his new autobiography on Amazon, so that we could make his book a bestseller on his birthday. I saw the ranking at #7 when I placed our order, so it looks like everyone came through!

Happy Birthday, Frankie! And many more to come.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

All Glowy Inside

I swear to you that this picture is totally spontaneous. It looks like I took Q to a studio where some poor photographer painstaking arranged him for maximum cuteness and coaxed him to smile. However, if that were the case, would we have chosen to highlight the most unflattering section of our lawn?

Never underestimate the charm capabilities of a two year old who is trying to make you forget that he just smacked you with a broom handle while spinning around and around the grass.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Fun with Legal and Financial Terms

You Are Not Released; Forbearance by Us Not a Waiver – the section title on a document SwingDaddy and I recently perused. It's like a cross between a hymn and "All your base are belong to us."

– This has the sounds of a villainous orc or Balrog, emerging from the deep caverns.

– Perhaps some kind of title. Mortgagor the Interpleader has a good ring to it.

In other news, I spent a few hours tonight adding a ruffle to a green Regency frock to make it long enough for Lara and removing a ruffle to a blue Regency frock to make it short enough to fit another dancer. Thank god they weren't Victorian gowns, where a ruffle would be so long that it'd take all week.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Big Poufy Victorian Dresses

My project was approved today! I delivered the concept presentation and took questions for three hours – a long time to stand, and for me, a long time to go without eating. I can complain with the best of them about management changing their minds and getting picky on details, but I must respect the executives who sit in the power seat in a room of fifty, week after week, making the decisions that will determine how a hundred people will spend the next year, along with millions of dollars.

Plus, another triumph - Apolo and Juliane won on "Dancing with the Stars!"

After using so many words today, I don't have many left, so I will instead be inspired by our upcoming dance concert and Bubandpie's post on why she wants to be a Victorian. Here are a collection of dance photographs in mid-century Victorian costume from prior shows. Enjoy!

Photo credit: Patrick Tower

Monday, May 21, 2007

Did Ya Vote?

Apolo and Juliane's freestyle dance rocked (after an overly staccato rhumba, which had us worried for a bit), and we are now committed voters. SwingDaddy pitched in too, with five votes from his mobile phone. "Dancing with the Stars" has become really enjoyable these last few weeks, now that we're no longer frightened of Edyta's alternately non-existent and drapey costumes, or an unnamed country singer's clumpy feet.

It's been a long day. I worked from 3-6am, went back to bed, had meetings and project proposal revisions in the office from 8:30 in the morning until 7:30 at night, came home, had dinner, watched "Dancing with the Stars" with SwingDaddy, voted(!), and now I'm back at it. My arm is sore from the clicky-clicky-click of PowerPointing all day, and I just really want the Powers That Be to approve my project tomorrow. Cross your fingers for me.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Superstitious Nonsense

We have a humidifier tidily packaged in its box, resting on the counter of the bathroom, taking up most of the space. Originally purchased last winter, we've set it up each time Q has come down with croup. As he recovers and starts to play with the water in the container, we move it into the bathroom and forget about it. After a few days, I notice that it's still there, wipe it clean, and let it sit to dry. Some days after that, I'll remember to put it in storage.

This time, I boxed it up and it's still in the bathroom. Because what seems to happen right after I put the humidifier back in the garage?

Right, we need it again. Because of croup. And usually right before we have plans with friends with little ones.

We've been invited to a holiday BBQ next weekend.

I know that this is the kind of thinking that leads to athletes wearing the same pair of dirty socks to every home game of their baseball career to preserve a winning streak, but the humidifier is staying put, there on the bathroom counter.

Photo from one of our fountain admiration tours. This one looks like Q is asking advice from a giant talking clam. What would Mr. Clam do with the humidifier?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

So This Cabbage Came Home With Us

What do you do when you see men in labcoats and many, many bottles of Diet Coke?

You've got to stick around and wait for them to inject the Mentos!

We saw the original eepybird guys do their thing today at Maker Faire, a celebration of "arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and Do-It-Yourself". We choose to stand back from the mayhem a bit (not worth getting the kiddo soaked in soda), so the view from the YouTube clip is much better. Madame A, who met us there, agreed that it was cool anyway.

We also saw some beautiful steam-driven robots from Crab Fu.

And the humble teapot helping to provide steam. Or maybe just healthful beverages.

Here's the Pen Car. (Seeing this made me feel like Min!)

One of my unmarketable but unique skills is the ability to spy cute plush at two hundred paces. While standing in line for overpriced real food, I saw a table piled with anthropomorphic food. Could it be My Paper Crane, here all the way from Pennsylvania? Absolutely. I got to meet crafty hero Heidi.

I've broken the self-imposed moratorium on plush acquisition twice recently, starting with the pink Easter Peep. I've been eyeing the adorable cabbage for a long time though and seeing plush produce unexpectedly in person was too much to resist!

On the way out of the Faire, we admired the growing balloon chain an installation artist was floating in the parking lot. He'd only gotten to the yellows when we'd arrived, so it must be about a mile long by now.

We saw some pretty amazing creations, but Q wrapped up the day with his favorite, brooms.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Blond Man in My Bed

SwingDaddy's new look. Q and I think he's pretty cool.

Phrase of the Day

Q, watching SwingDaddy play Guitar Hero: "Wock and Woll!"

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

One Step Forward, One Step Back

Do you know what curb cuts are?

They are those ramps that get you from sidewalk to street and back. The Americans with Disabilities Act established the requirement for the benefit of wheelchair users, but they're helpful to lots of people – those pulling wheeled luggage and briefcases, or pushing grocery carts and strollers.

My new work laptop has me thinking about accessibility, and how it aids parents. I already wrote about how you need to have a non-shift-key password when you're a mom, because you only have one hand to type when you're holding a baby. Well, you only have one hand to manage the rest of PC operations too, so those accessibility features matter.

For instance, the computer has only one exterior latch, a distinct improvement. The old machine had two latches, meant for two hands simultaneously (although you could prop one latch open long enough with a finger to unhook the other one if you were careful).

On the downside, there's a new button right in between the Control and Alt keys. In order to ctrl-alt-del with one hand, I now need to cover three keys with my thumb at once, while reaching for the Delete key with my forefinger. So annoying! Maybe I'm going to have to teach the little dude to help me out.

If anyone knows what that new key does, let me know.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Young Gardener at Work

Doing his best to not squish the tiny green tomatoes (on the branch, left of his hand).

P.S. Apolo made it to the finals, so the voting worked.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Yes, Mom and Dad, I Voted

Our household is no longer a stranger to reality show voting.

My parents are avid "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars" fans, complete with studious voting. SwingDaddy and I watch the dancing show, but haven't quite gotten rabid enough to vote. It seems pretty goofy to act like voting for your favorite star is silly and plebeian when you're watching the TV program anyway, but hey, we all try to make our limits.

That all changed this week, when my parents went on vacation, and I received strict instructions to vote for Apolo Anton Ohno in their absence.

"The phone lines are only open for half an hour, so make sure you call during that time, " my dad said.

"And make sure you call from both your home phone and cell phone, since you can only vote five times from any phone number," added my mom.

I took this to mean that I was supposed to vote more than once. So, yes I did. Ten votes for Apolo tonight, who is so darn cute with his partner Julianne that I hope he takes home the Mirror Ball trophy to go with his Olympic speedskating medals. The level of difficulty and execution that he's managing is impressive, and Julianne is a top notch choreographer.

SwingDaddy and I like all four semi-finalists and hope that boxing champ Laila Ali makes it to the final too.

We don't watch American Idol (fatal fear of people singing out of tune), so I'm not sure who was my parents' favorite. I'll have to ask Lady O if they assigned voting duty to her.

I'm glad that I can share pop culture zaniness with my parents, and can't wait to come up with requests for Q in years to come.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Baby Tai Chi

Q was pounding away on old pots and pans in the afternoon when it occurred to us that it might actually be quieter if we got him a real drum set. Not that we're going to, mind you. At least until SwingDaddy talks me into it.

Or maybe we can encourage the little dude to keep practicing tai chi.
It was a good Mother's Day. Ballet class, a massage, healthy-yummy dinner with SwingDaddy and Q, and a rousing drum chorus.

I feel spoiled and relaxed, ready to tackle another crazy Monday at the office. Last week, after multiple IT interventions and over 30 hours of running PC processes, I got my new work laptop running and most (but not all) data transferred. I had to grit my teeth and remind myself in the 29th hour that a PC is supposed to be a productivity tool. Hopefully this week, it will be!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Much Faster Than Four Thousand Words

I'm working on a post about a spectacular gift from my friends and one friend in particular. While that's brewing, here are four snapshots from the weekend so far.

We had a good Charleston performance Friday night.

Q and I strolled by an Italian sidewalk painting festival.

And admired Botticelli's Venus in chalk.

They'd also cleverly set up an area for kids to draw, complete with wet wipes for the ensuing cleanup.

Happy Mother's Day!