THE SAFE HOUSE

The current show at Williamston Theatre is a lovely, moving piece by Kristine Thatcher and directed by Casaundra Freeman. Reviews have been universally wonderful, and this is one of those shows that SO many people can directly relate to, people are loving it. Charming, funny, heartbreaking and uplifting, it’s a beautiful piece about family, change, and the power of being there for each other. A terrific start to our 14th Season!

Read one of the reviews HERE!

Karen Sheridan and Dani Cochrane

Tobin Hissong, Karen Sheridan and Dani Cochrane

Dani Cochrane and Karen Sheridan

Opening Night production team photo.

Back row: Chris Purchis, scenic designer Gabriella Csapo, assistant stage manager Matt Kowalczyk, set dressing/properties designer Michelle Raymond, apprentice Becca Bedell, stage manager Stef Din, tech director Aaron Delnay, sound designer Sonja Marquis, costume designer Holly Iler, apprentice Ariel Sheets, John Lepard, Emily Sutton-Smith, Tony Caselli. Not pictured: lighting designer Shannon Schweitzer.
Front row: Tobin Hissong, director Casaundra Freeman, playwright Kristine Thatcher, Karen Sheridan, Dani Cochrane.

A fun flashback…..

Little timeline things pop up now and then and say “Hey, remember this?” and it’s fun to look back at old writings I did here.  Sometimes I forget that I’ve been writing this for over 14 years.

13 years ago I posted about a nice October week we were having in 2006, including some fun times in the yard with family.  This bit cracked me up:

Today was a nice day; family time, some work around the house, Jeanne’s sister Jackie and her family came over and we played a bunch of catch, and enjoyed an unbelievably beautiful October afternoon. I’m absolutely exhausted, from the whole week, but also from racing my son’s Razor scooter around the driveway with the kids and my brother-in-law Joe. (Zipping around the circular driveway were two scooters, a couple of motorized kid-sized jeeps, and a couple of bicycles.)

For the record: those scooter things are a blast.

Also, for the record; it’s been a while since I rode on anything like one. Witness the following exchange, which is pretty close to accurate, if you allow for the whole “my mind was scrambled so I might not get all the details right” part:

Dad?! Are you okay?
Yes, Maggie, I’m fine.
You kinda crashed!
Yes. Yes I did.
At least you missed the tree.
It doesn’t feel like I missed the tree.
Are you just going to lay there?
Yes. Yes I am.
Can I use the scooter?
Yes. Yes you can.
Cool!

Yeah, that sounds pretty much like the 8-year old Maggie!  Now she’s 21 and spent the last couple days back at home for Fall Break, and it’s been wonderful having her home from school. We’ll get Max back for a few days, too, their breaks almost overlap.  So we get a little time with the kids, they get some time at home visiting us, and the dogs!  I expect nowadays if they found me laying on the ground next to a scooter they may panic a little more quickly, but I’ll try not to test that theory!

Ch-Ch-Changes…..

Sat down to update my journal, and realized it’s been two months! Amazing, where did that time go? Well, life got crazy:

*We sold our house in Chelsea and moved to Williamston!
*We have officially become “empty-nesters” with both kids now moved out of the house and into their universities, University of Michigan and Western Michigan University!
*A BIG renovation has been taking place for the last 7 weeks at Williamston Theatre, at the same time that we’re rehearsing and about to go into previews for the beautiful play The Safe House by Kristine Thatcher.

So – life has been busy!  And WONDERFUL.  We’re about to open SEASON FOURTEEN at Williamston Theatre!

The kids:

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The building renovation.  We tore out our old Stage Manager tech booth and put in a new one!

How it looks now:

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How it looked a few weeks ago:

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and a couple weeks before that….

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…aaaaaand from the other side….

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Also, here’s our new house!

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AND here are a few rehearsal shots from the BEAUTIFUL show The Safe House by Kristine Thatcher, directed by the wonderful Casaundra Freeman, and starring Karen Sheridan, Dani Cochrane and Tobin Hissong.

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So, the last 8 weeks have been insanely busy, but also pretty darned wonderful.  I’m so grateful for my family, and my work, and the people I get to work with!

I hope everyone else has had a good summer as well – now that Fall is upon us, and my that wonderful Autumnal feeling is in the air, I’m really looking forward to what’s coming up. I hope you all are too!

Life…

We had 1,440 minutes today.  How’d you use them?  We’re not getting them back, is why I ask.  I want to remember this more often.

“I don’t know exactly what
a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall down into the grass…
how to be idle and blessed…
how to stroll through the
fields, which is what I have
been doing all day…
Doesn’t everything die at last
and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan
to do with your one wild and
precious life?”
-Mary Oliver

 

“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious.  Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead.  Pay attention.  It’s all about paying attention.  Attention is vitality.  It connects you with others.  it makes you eager.  Stay eager.”
– Susan Sontag

 

“Relentlessly prune bullshit, don’t wait to do things that matter, and savor the time you have. That’s what you do when life is short. ”
– Paul Graham

 

Empathy…

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”― Ernest Hemingway

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – HARPER LEE

“Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.” – Barack Obama

“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.” – Meryl Streep

 

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A Big Move!

Too long since my last post, and that’s because we have been swamped with MOVING INTO A NEW HOUSE!  Jeanne, Max and Maggie and I are now living in Williamston, Michigan.  Several reasons for the move, like being closer to Jeanne’s parents, looking to downsize now that the kids are both headed to college, wanting a smaller yard to take care of, stuff like that.

It’s been a crazy couple months – some of it I chronicled here – got back from Italy, got sick for a few weeks (man, that bronchial infection kicked my BUTT!), slowly got better from that, then got super busy packing a house we’d lived in for 17 years (while trying to PURGE also!), and moving, and now we are slowly unpacking and making our little house feel like home!

I am loving being able to walk to work.  After working in Williamston for 14 years it already felt like home, but now walking to and from work, I’m falling in love with it even more.  Crossing the bridge over the Red Cedar River and passing by McCormick park with all of its carved-tree artwork, kids playing in the giant play area, it’s a beautiful place.

The kids seem to be enjoying the new house, even though it won’t be long before they are both moved into their college dorm rooms and Jeanne and I are gleefully selling their stuff and turning their rooms into offices and exercise rooms (HAH!  Kidding!)

So, right now we’re all deep into “managing change”, and adjusting to this new phase of life, and enjoying it!  Lots of good things happening, INCLUDING the kids moving to college and diving into THAT big change in their lives.  (Maggie’s been going to school for two years now, but this will be her first time living in the dorms. Max will be in college for the first time this fall!  Both kids lived away from home, of course, for a year, when they did their exchange programs in Finland and Germany, but this will be a cool new experience for them.  I’m excited for them!)

For now, though, we’re still digging out from boxes that need unpacking.  We “downsized” on purpose, and purged a bunch of stuff before moving, but as we unpack, I think another purge may be due!

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Italy. Day 3. Friday in Cinque Terre

So on Friday I slept in a little bit, after a long Thursday. Then after a quick breakfast Tommaso and I bought Cinque Terre cards for the day of travel, and jumped on a train to Riomaggiore, the southernmost of the 5 towns in Cinque Terre.

The Cinque Terre cards are nice – for 16 Euros you can hike as many paths as you want and ride as many trains inside the Cinque Terre network as you want for a whole day.

Riomaggiore is beautiful. When you arrive off the train, you have to walk through a long tunnel to get to the center of town, where the main piazza is. I know just enough Italian to get excited when I see a sign I recognize, and “Centro” with an arrow was always fun to discover. This one pointed to the big tunnel walkway, so away we went.

Like all of the Cinque Terre towns, Riomaggiore is all about the steps and the vertical climb. These towns are built right into the big hills on the steep shores and cliffs of the sea, and space is not wasted! Buildings stack up and up, little terraces are carved into the mountain everywhere, and the alleys, stairways, ramps and streets are an amazing mixture of nice open spaces for public gathering and little narrow walkways that are maze like back into little neighborhoods of homes, shops and apartments.

We had lunch in town, lasagna that was SO good. I had a limoncello for an after-lunch drink. Strong and lemony, it was delicious and potent! Lemons and basil are two of the locally grown things Cinque Terre is famous for, and Riomaggiore had a lot of lemon groves in town, and on the narrow terraced farms carved into the hills above and around the city.

After a couple hours of exploring Riomaggiore, we jumped back on the train and headed to the next town north, Manarola. (The 5 towns that make up Cinque Terre are, North to South along the Ligurian seaside: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.)

Manarola has a big beautiful marina/bay area for fishing, swimming, boating and sunbathing on giant boulders, similar to Riomaggiore. There’s a little section enclosed by rocky outcropping also, and wonderful paths winding around and up the cliff to take you very high above the city itself. Once you get up to the top, there is a big flat(ish) space with a small park for kids, an outdoor restaurant/bar and a small public green space for sitting and gathering. Since you’re on top of a mountain looking out, the views are stunning.

You can even see, far down the coastline, Monterosso!

After enjoying some limone gelato, another local specialty made from home-grown lemons (SO GOOD), and spending a couple hours wandering the streets and stairways of Manarola, we headed back for the train station, and our next ride north, to Corniglia. I have to say also, with all the walking in the sun, I was really grateful that all of the cities had several small water fountains labeled “acqua potabile” for people to know they could refill water bottles with clean, cold, sanitary water!

Arriving in Corniglia was different than the other towns, because Corniglia is the only town not on the water. It’s located much higher on the mountain, and has no direct access to the sea. To this end, the city runs free busses for the short (7 or 8 minute) ride from the train station, which IS at sea-level) to the town itself. Some people do choose to walk the path up, but it’s a very steep climb high up the cliff, and I was quite happy to wait my turn for the bus! After Thursday’s hike to Monterosso, and climbing the stairs and ramps of the two towns we’d already explored that day, my legs would not have been happy to try that climb! Tommaso would’ve had to drag me.

Corniglia, like the other towns, was beautiful. Being so much higher than the others, the view of the sea, as well as the surrounding countryside, was quite beautiful. We found a cool little trattoria tucked into a little terrace a few steps below street level, and sat down to have a snack while looking over the city. The weirdest snack on the menu was a bruschetta with lard and honey on grilled bread, so I had to try it, and it was AMAZING. That and a cappuccino made a perfect combo to keep me going for the rest of our trekking around Corniglia, which was gorgeous.

We also visited, as we did in every town, a couple of the historic churches they have. Amazing architecture, and such history!

After Corniglia, we returned to Vernazza, relaxed and had dinner, and even saw a lovely Good Friday ceremony as the church members marched through the piazza singing, and celebrating the holiday. Then I was exhausted, and slept like a rock!!

It’s Saturday now! Tommaso has boarded his train to head home to Cerignola and I am returning to Milan, and checking into my hotel, for a couple days of exploring the city on my own! It’s been an absolute joy to see him again, and travel around with him. I’m looking forward to bringing Jeanne with me next time, and getting to meet his family! I will miss him, and I’m so glad we got to visit.

Such a fabulous experience, being here. The cities, the culture… I’m practicing my Italian, but most of the folks who live here probably wish I wasn’t, because it’s not good! We’ll see how I do for the next few days, without Tommaso to translate for me!