Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dramatic Theatrics

Tradition: Theater


Every year my family took our summer vacation away from home. We did not do summer camp or anything like that, instead we all piled in my mother’s van and drove across our very large state and through another to visit my grandparents and cousins. My paternal grandmother spent her summers up at the family cabin in Idaho. If I was a millionaire I would spend every weekend and all of my summer months at that cabin, I love it.

There is a famous national park near the cabin. There is also a small town call West Yellowstone. The town had the normal touristy stores, but it also has a cute candy store and a small theater. Every summer the theater put on 3 plays and my family would have tickets to all three. We sat in the front row. The theater is so small that the back row would still be the most expensive seats in any other theater.

The actors and actresses were generally young adults from nearby colleges and such. I can say with complete certainty that the level of skill I saw there has rivaled many of the plays I have seen elsewhere, including Broadway. My dad often told us we could be part of the playmill when we grew up (I obviously never reached that potential quitting singing in 8th grade)

The plays I liked the best were the musicals. Can you imagine being close enough to trip Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof? What about being close enough to kiss one of the 7 brothers in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?
My Mom didn’t (probably still doesn’t) consider a trip to the cabin to be a vacation, but she suffered through it despite. I am not sure if she loved all of the plays, but I know that she enjoyed Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Probably because we got to watch the best Joseph to ever play the part, his name is David Walker and the prison scene would make anyone cry. He is amazing.

This is how it went every play day. Drive the 20 minutes from the cabin to West, run to the candy shop and buy jelly bellys (watermelon, pear, Dr. Pepper and buttered popcorn were my favorites). Go into the theater where there is a small variety show before the play starts. Join the sing along in hopes one of the actors will pull you up on stage and give you a peck on the cheek. Watch the first half of the play and buy fudge at intermission. Eat half of your fudge during the second half and wrap the rest to take back to the cabin.

My favorite play is Fiddler on the Roof. My husband would tell you that is because I am Jewish (which I'm not, it's hard to explain). I think it is because the family is my family. Strong parental units raising 5 daughters based on traditions. Though the story line doesn't fit my family at all, it is still amazing how everyday things are tradition "Maybe that is why we always wear our hats"

As I look back, because now I am a grown up and can use such phrases, I realize that my dad really wanted us to appreciate theater as something enjoyable, not something stuffy and dreadful. I think he succeeded with that goal, I still love theater.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jim really is a Do-er

Jim is not handy, but he is getting quite fidgety while unemployed. Last summer he laid a patio in the area that used to be a sandpit (and before that it had an above ground pool). This year he built some more garden beds and then decided the whole thing needed a fence. So he spent days digging holes, pouring concrete adding ‘walls’ and generally laboring over a relatively small space.

When he proposed the fence I had a few requirements
1) It must be about 4' tall
2) It must have non-solid fencing material
3) It must have a gate that works

Reasons for these rather random requirements are pretty logical. 4' is tall enough that the bunnies would prefer to burrow under rather than hop over. There is no point in planting a garden in a full sun area of the yard if the fence then blocks the sun during the morning and evening hours. Last year I was kind of hopping over our little green fence, which was fine, but any taller and my short legs would not be able to reach and I don’t climb fences.

So a plan was created and by plan I mean general idea, nothing with actual measurements and diagrams on a piece of paper (not Jim’s way of doing things). The work began and I helped on a couple of occasions, but the majority of the work was all Jim all the time. I am quite pleased with the end result

The pictures may make things look a little crooked, but that is just perspective because the boxes aren't perfectly in line or square for that manner (mostly my fault)

I do love the gate

Jim really wanted the latch/hinge set that came with an actual handle
Non-solid fencing is chicken wire. Easy to replace, but not super craptastic so hopefully it lasts for a year or two

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


We all come into this world with a family. Some of us are lucky enough to live not just past our first breath, but all the way to adulthood with a complete family (though the definition of complete may change through the years). Those of us who are this blessed are also afflicted with the craziness that exists in families.

My husband and I watch a handful of shows and one of them is Parenthood on NBC. Last week Adam Braverman (played by Peter Krause) was teaching his nephew how to dance. I use the term dance loosely here. The scene involves the poor nephew watching his uncle dance around in the living room trying to perform some ridiculous dance moves including, but not limited to the worm. Some viewers probably reacted to this scene with laughter, finding it an exaggeration that you would only see on TV. These viewers are not afflicted. They did not grow up with my dad. They have no idea.

My dad is one of the smartest people I know. He is one of those people who oozes confidence and competence and if he is ever negotiating with your company he will play fair, but fierce. Good luck.

My dad is also the biggest goofball I know. The dance sequence had me flashing back to many a day when my dad would burst into “dance” and even if no one is around I was embarrassed. In fact, the scene caused me to squeal “that’s my dad, no really I am pretty sure my dad did that move, and that one, oh geez, this is ridiculous, IT’S MY DAD ON TV!” all while laughing so hard that tears rolled down my cheeks. Jim sat calmly on the other side of the couch in awe. I don’t think he knows how true to life that moment was.
Some families would merely be embarrassed and move on, not my family, no. I chatted with my sister at length about how awful that scene was, and how bad of a dancer my dad is. Oh the hilarity, laughter and fun that Kinna and I had. My other sister has even recorded my dad dancing and if I could get spend more than 10 minutes writing a blog post I would figure out how to post it here because it so completely displays the family affliction known as "dad’s dancing."

What is something that your family does that you consider embarrassing? How do you embrace the traditional affliction?