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Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Tuneful Christmas Carol

 
Tonight I went to a production called "A Tuneful Christmas Carol." It was an adaptation of the classic Dickens tale by a local man of many talents.

This was opening night, so if you are in the area, you have three more chances to see it. Do. It's a little pricey (I think they must have rented the costumes and probably had to rent the Ramsdell Theater since it wasn't produced by the Manistee Civic Players), but it's short (about an hour) and the kids won't get bored. There are lots of kids in the play. Part of the proceeds each night are being donated to local charities.

Anyway, let's talk first about the set. I REALLY liked the set. It took advantage of the fact that you can do multiple levels quite easily there. In this long shot, you can see that Scrooge's office is set down in what would be the orchestra pit. That part of the set just stayed put, no one had to move anything. If the action was in the office your eye was drawn there, if not, you could just ignore it.

A Tuneful Christmas Carol

Look at the picture above again. See the wall with a door on the right side of the stage? That is where Scrooge lives. The knocker that came to life as Jacob Marley's face is visible on it. Now see what that unit can do.

By just pivoting it around, you can now see into Scrooge's bedroom. He would climb stairs on the back side to enter. Switching from the street view to the interior view took only a few seconds. Very slick.

A Tuneful Christmas Carol

The only other interior that needed to be clearly defined was the Crachit household. This was accomplished by bringing in the floor of their main room complete with chairs, table, etc, on a scenery wagon. Again... about 2 seconds, different set. Not a great picture, but I wanted to show this piece of scenery.

A Tuneful Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens appeared as the narrator (a little humor there). You can see him wearing a long brown coat in the first picture. The production was "tuneful" because there were carolers in the streets, giving Scrooge something to complain about regularly.

Scrooge is visited first by Marley's Ghost.

A Tuneful Christmas Carol

The Spirit of Christmas Past shows Scrooge himself as a boy.

A Tuneful Christmas Carol

There was a well-done and fairly complex dance scene in this segment as part of the celebration featuring young Scrooge and his fiance. I know this production was rehearsed in just a few weeks. That cast must have worked their tails off to get the dances right.

A Tuneful Christmas Carol

Of course, the Spirit of Christmas Present takes him to visit the Crachit house and to see Tiny Tim. That scene is above where I talked about the set.

A Tuneful Christmas Carol

Finally, the Spirit of Christmas Future comes and shows Scrooge that no one will mourn for him.

A Tuneful Christmas Carol

We all know the ending... Scrooge is a reformed man.

A Tuneful Christmas Carol

This production is a classic retelling of the story with the addition of music which made it a lot of fun. I know several of the actors, the set designer, and the adapter/director.

Bedtime- have to be at work at 8 am.

See Deathtrap
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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Pere Marquette River Flats

 
I was out and about doing errands this afternoon, and I stopped to take some pictures at the Pere Marquette River flats. This is the local name of the area where the river empties into Pere Marquette Lake. It's really, duh..., flat.

Pere Marquette River Flats

The river splits into two segments slightly upstream from here and meanders through this monoculture cattail marsh. This picture is on the south side of the south fork at the boat launch site. It was a nice day and the water sure looked blue. I just liked the broken reflection in the ripples.

Pere Marquette River Flats

Looking up, more blue, but split by a fast-moving plane.

airplane

Then I drove to the north side of the north fork. There's an observation platform where you can see the extent of the marsh. From there you can hardly see any open water. You can see something else, though. Here's the horizon line. Does it look a little fuzzy or maybe twinkly?

Pere Marquette River Flats

That is because you can see at least 34 of the 54 wind turbines in the county from that location. I managed to count 34, and it was hazy.

wind turbines


In other news:
I worked till 1:30, then did errands including spending a pile of money. More on that another day. Came home and did a whole list of odds and ends. Revised a short story yet again and sent it off to a contest. I would do more of that, but it costs money to enter most of them. Only 1st place gets a cash prize. I wouldn't mind being that person, but I suspect it's unlikely. Not that I think my writing isn't good enough; my philosophies just don't seem to align with what judges are looking for. No writing except on the short story. And I can't write now, because I have cookies to bake before going to bed. Better get busy!



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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Bad Feather Day

 
We have a new pinkie in the neighborhood. She either slept all wrong, or is having quite a shocking experience getting used to her neighbors.

metal flamingo

She joins the group who were previously paying homage to Darth Mingo. They are now just grazing around peacefully. Wolverine and Sparty herons are currently demanding everyone's allegiance.

lawn flamingos

I'm still amazed at how this silly flamingo joke has grown, and I'm still finding different ones.

In other news:
I worked till 12:30, wrote a chapter in Secret Cellar, had handbell practice, and writers' group in the evening. Very full day.



See The Dark Side of Flamingos
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Monday, November 27, 2017

Patterns

 
Just some interesting geometries today. I like this kind of stuff. And I've been saving a picture to put with a group like this. Can I find it? No. Maybe another time when it re-surfaces.

Shadows on the deck.

shadows

Architectural interest.

bricks

Shadows on the wall.

shadows

And in continuing oddities... those stratocumulus undulatus clouds again this morning in the east.

stratocumulus clouds

And in the afternoon in the north. Weird.

stratocumulus clouds

In other news: I wrote my monthly newspaper column and spent hours trying to get the pictures together- SD card problems, computer crashing problems- finally got them. Mailed books, plural! Errands. Got info together for the person who will do cover art for the Dubois Files children's mysteries- more hours, all worthwhile, but not writing. Time spent writing on books- zero minutes. I did open the file once just before the computer crashed. But, it's back to work in the morning so I can't stay up really late tonight.

See Polka Dots and Stripes 2
See An Oddity in Stripes
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Sunday, November 26, 2017

An Oddity in Stripes

 
This morning, the sky to the east was awesome. Not sunrise (I slept through that, and I am most happy to tell you so- no alarm clock), but about 11:00 I looked out and saw this.

Stratocumulus undulatus clouds

I've since learned that stripes like these are called Stratocumulus undulatus clouds. They form at low levels when there is a lot of variation in air temperatures and wind speeds. They most often are seen in the fall and early winter, and are associated with changing weather. They form pretty much the same way that ripples in the sand at the bottom of a creek or edge of a lake are created.

It's fun to know that, but mostly I think that is one gorgeous sky!

I noticed more stripes on the other side of the sun which was visible enough to be in my eyes. Went on the deck and discovered more stripes to the south.

Stratocumulus undulatus clouds

Then I was curious. I looked over to the west. More stripes.

Stratocumulus undulatus clouds

Had to check out north. Not as well defined, but definitely stripey.

Stratocumulus undulatus clouds

This is apparently quite unusual. When they form it's usually just in one cardinal direction. And there's my meteorology lesson for the day.

In other news, I helped Josh fill out insurance papers. I did laundry. I made a contact about cover art for the children's book series. Best of all, I have eight chapters done in Dubois Files: The Secret Cellar.

Possibly strangest of all, and very very good, is the fact that I keep thinking today was Monday and I have to go back to work tomorrow. But it's only Sunday. I get one more day to write without other major events intruding (OK, I have to go run some errands, but nothing that will take hours and hours). Wowzer!

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

True Confessions - I Shopped

 
Shocking, isn't it? But I swear it was an accident that I darkened a store entry on Black Friday.

I just had to stop at Aldis and buy more of this juice. It's only available at Christmas.

This post also comes under the heading of shopping coups. Every couple of years I mention the shopping find of the year. Consider this one of the 2017 winners.

Holiday Wassail juice

I had purchased a bottle last week to try. The ingredients are black currant juice, apple juice, clove, cinnamon, orange juice, lemon juice, cardamom, and ginger. It's supposedly based on the historic drink "wassail," as in "Here we come a wassailing," or "and to you your wassail too," in the Christmas songs.

Yup, it's good. Really good. The flavor is a bit dark and dusky. Sort of a cranberry/black cherry flavor. And spiced. It's labeled - best served hot. I like it chilled.

The big thing is, the day I was sick with that whopper of a cold, it was the only thing that tasted good. Since I was leaking liquid from my nose like a hydrant, it was a good way to help stay hydrated. Had to get more before they run out. So, it just happened to be Friday, and I stopped on my way home from work. There you have it.

The sunset today was intense with deep colors.

sunset

And it threw light across to the grain elevator in the east. The metal structure often catches the reflected light, and I liked the effect today. It was a little out of the ordinary. I don't really think the "space station" is beautiful, but it's part of my world, so I just take whatever beauty it wants to present.

evening light on grain elevator

In other news, I finished the layout for the back cover of the print edition of Dead Mule Swamp Druggist, and I started writing chapter one of the first mystery for young readers. Tentative title of the book is Dubois Files: The Secret Cellar. Tentative title of the chapter is "JIMMIE AND LASZLO."

See Bar Keeper's Friend
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Friday, November 24, 2017

Red, Yellow, Blue, Green

 
Today was a glorious day. I was inside working for all of it, but it felt good anyway. My cold is all gone and I have energy.

The morning began with quite a range of colors. Here are two pictures 17 minutes apart.

sunrise

sunrise

The temperature rose into the nicely comfortable range, and at least we got to enjoy the fresh air through the gate where papers go out.

This blue sky greeted me when I arrived home this afternoon.

blue sky

And the green? Nice little tree is put up. Looks weird yet because it's been bundled. Give it a day to open up.

bare Christmas tree

Soon, I'm headed back to work for the night. It's pretty strange how I can feel so good since I felt so awful yesterday, but I do. Tonight should be fine.

See I Like Bright Colors
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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Low Key Thanksgiving Works for Us

 
Well, I have managed to take my turn with the cold that's going around work. I've done almost nothing today. Took a nap. Cooked one thing (that was the plan anyway). Wrote a little tiny bit and worked on the print book cover for Dead Mule Swamp Druggist.

With no one to have to impress or make happy other than the two of us, Omer brought home some turkey from a local restaurant and I made baked macaroni and cheese, for which I've been hankering.

turkey and macaroni and cheese

I'm going to rearrange a few things in the living room because Om wants to put up the Christmas tree this weekend. Then it's probably back to bed. The Friday/ Friday night schedule starts again at 9 tomorrow morning and I'm sure I'll be going to work no matter how I feel. Just hope the nose will have stopped leaking non-stop by then.

We did get a phone call from Phil and Nan. They are good friends who moved to Oregon some years ago. They were Maggie's previous owners. Little Suzanne (granddaughter), who always thought Maggie was still her dog even though she lived with me, turned 21 today. Wow. It was nice to get caught up.

When I was hunting up links to add below, I see that we did something similar in 2015, and the newspaper rat race was mentioned. We had all worked even more hours that week, and I was exhausted. I mention this only because there were more inserts this year, but we didn't experience as much stress this time. Things are more organized and better planned so that although it was a challenge, we weren't all just run ragged. This is a good thing.

See A Similar T-day in 2015
See Thanksgiving 2014- the last time we did anything really special on this day.
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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

We Survived!

 
Another year of the Black Friday edition of the paper is out the door! In fact, we did it in record time, starting at 11:40 and having every paper done just a little before 2 pm. This is an hour longer than it usually takes, but is our best time for this huge, once a year, edition.

It was scheduled to have 20 inserts. This morning, the order got upped to 21. That is not good. We only have 9 stations, one for the cover and 8 for inserts, so if there are more than 8 inserts we make packets ahead of time which can then go through as if they were one thing. We had already finished all the packets. But guess what? We had to make yet another one this morning.

Here are some of the insert packets.

racks full of newspapers

Here are some more of the insert packets.

racks full of newspapers

Here is Beth, bringing in another pallet of insert packets.

racks full of newspapers

Here are pallets full of the inserts that didn't go in packets.

racks full of newspapers

One of the real challenges of papers with so many inserts is how the loose bundles of stuffed papers will stack. If there are certain sizes or types of paper next to each other they tend to jam or slide which can lead to machine stopping, or an inability to handle the bundles and get them to the strapper neatly. Some inserts have flaps which are especially nasty for the machine. So Beth did a very good job of planning the packets to alternate glossy paper with non-glossy, prevent catching flaps, etc.

Here is the inserter machine, running papers (you can see them in the track on the far right).

newspaper inserter

The semi-broken stacker did agree to accept them, and we put them in stacks of 10. (Usually it's 50.) Each paper weighed 1.6 pounds, which puts a bundle at 16 pounds. I sent close to 600 bundles out.

Actually, the challenge of doing something out of the ordinary tends to energize me. It was kind of fun to succeed, and succeed well, at pulling off a very complicated puzzle with a team of people who individually work very hard at what could be described as 'not a very satisfying job.'

After that was all over, we had to run some packets for the next publication we do (Friday). We get tomorrow off. Yippie!

In other news, I'm doing a little writing and nursing a runny nose.

See 150 and 9
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