Thursday, August 25, 2016

Change Number One, Remodeling the Bathroom Vanity

Periodically, Tom makes changes to our house to make it more friendly for his scooter and power chair.

The first change he made this summmer was to his bathroom.

This is the vanity that was in his bathroom at the beginning of the summer.  It is now in our basement just in case we want it again.

He used the same washbasin surface but made a new vanity cabinet.  Now he can clean up facing the vanity.  Before he had to work from a sideways position.

He bought the wood at Menards, the big box hardware a couple blocks away after he had designed what he wanted.  A friend brought the materials to our house in his pickup truck.

Here is Tom cutting boards at the saw set up in our garage.

Here he is blowing off the sawdust after he was finished for the day.

Here is one of the finished boards, sanded and varnished.

His friend helped him install the new vanity.

And I sewed up a pair of curtains.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Drama Workshop Presents Noises Off Written by Michael Frayn

Tom and I went to see Noises Off on Sunday, August 14.  Tom drove through torrential rain from our home, through Dayton and even further south.  By the time we arrived at The Glenmore Playhouse in Cheviot, the sun was shining.  That made it easy for Tom on his power chair to get into the theater.  We heard that there were two heavy spells of rain during the play but the sun was shining again when we left the theater.  

I'm glad we braved the rain because the play was a slapstick comedy which kept us and the audience laughing.  Anyone who has had anything to do with  a grade school program or a church program, or a high school play either as a player or a director will recognize the basis of this farce.  

Noises Off is a play with a play within it.  The inner play, Nothing On, is rehearsed and then presented twice, once as the audience watches from backstage and once as the audience watches the stage.  The playbill for Nothing On enclosed in the Noises Off playbill is an extension of the farce and made me chuckle when I read it later.

Meanwhile, the actors and actresses  have their own issues emerging.  Just what is going on in real life?  Sometimes they know and sometimes they have no idea.

The cast includes from left to right...

Stephanie Adams as Belinda Blair, a cheerful sensible actress
Tim Binzer as Frederick Fellowes, a timid actor afraid of violence and blood
Elizabeth Beatty as Poppy Norton-Taylor, an emotional Assistant Stage Manager
Natasha Boeckmann as Brooke Ashton, a beautiful, dense young actress

Bill Keeton as Lloyd Dallas, the director of Nothing On
Kent Smith as Selsdon Mowbray, the elderly actor with a love for whiskey
Mary Ann Smith as Dotty Otley, a forgetful actress
Eric Thomas as Tim Allgood, an overworked stage manager
Ian Tinney as Garry Lejeune, a stuttering actor

The director of the inner play, Nothing On, Lloyd Dallas,  gets so upset with the flawed final rehearsal that he finally exclaims when one of the actors wants to understand the play,  "Getting the sardines on, getting the sardines off.  That's farce!  That's theater!  That's life!" 

That comment explains the fish on the lobby display.  I wondered why 3-D fish were part of it.  Afterward I heard that getting exactly the right fish for the part was one of the problems the Properties Crew leader, Valeria Amburgey, had to solve.  Just any fish weren't usable.  But the right fish were found.

Dennis Murphy was the director. I've always been curious about the difference between a director and a producer so I went online to learn more.  I found good job descriptions at Community  I will use that site more now that I have found it.

Part of the definition I found for director --"It is the director that the rest of the team looks to for the vision and understanding of the play."  Dennis Murphy does an outstanding job.  In his notes to the audience, he wrote that Act 2, (when the back stage set is facing the audience), was a particular challenge.  I was impressed with the audience being able to follow the action of  "Nothing On" through a stage window at the same time that all kinds of slapstick events were being mimed backstage. Never did the mimes obscure the window. He met the challenge and so did the actors.  The scene worked beautifully.

Elaine Volker was the producer.  Again, I went to Community for a definition--"The producer is responsible for all the tasks involved in the physical realization of the production on stage."  Under this statement is a list-- twenty specific duties. Once I asked my daughter what the job of the producer was.  She said, "The producer does everything the director doesn't do."  Elaine did a great job.  I can't begin to conceive of all the time involved in this position.  This job takes a well-organized individual.

Dennis Murphy also noted in his Director's Notes that The Drama Workshop would never have scheduled Noises Off if the group did not have "absolute trust" that set designer, Ray Persing, could design and build a two-story, seven door set sturdy enough to support the action and revolve between acts as needed. (That's our son, the engineer.)

Here is one side of the set...the stage...

and the other side... back stage...

I'm sorry I didn't get a photo of the stalwart TWD crew turning the set.  Ray said there are 68 casters on  the set  which revolves with power provided by the muscles of The Drama Workshop crew.  The audience gave the turning of the set a round of applause.

Here are more of the creative team members who made this play possible.

Elizabeth Boland, Jason Cox, Elaine Michael, Valeria Amburgey

Tobie Braverman, Gretchen Gantner, Michele Fortman, Gretchen Stommel, Carol Smith

The play will be presented again this coming weekend, August  26, 27, and 28.  If you like to laugh, don't miss it.  You can get more information by going to
calling 513-598-8303

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Some Things a Person Just Has to Remember...Gaping in Amazement

Nature is quicker than my reflexes. This just happened to me.  I went outside to take a photo of the lift in our van that we use to transport Tom's scooter or power chair.  For some unknown reason I looked out toward our driveway.

A Cooper's hawk swooped down intent on a fat gray squirrel who was intent on escape.  The squirrel scooted under the van between the front and back wheels...the hawk followed it on foot.  The squirrel ran left on the other side of the van and the hawk flew right.  And there I stood with my camera in my hand.

I went inside.  Maybe, I thought, I can get a photo of the squirrel and have a picture of half the story.  I went back out with my camera and aimed it at the walnut tree.  Then the squirrel dashed off.  It had been sitting in the crouch of the big limbs with a walnut in its paws.  My eyes never saw it until it moved and that was too late.

And such is life.

Brukner Nature Center Butterfly Transit, July 31, 2016

We saw nine different species including one we have never seen before on the transit, a Harvester.

Harvester (Feniseca tarquinius) Wingspan1.1-1.3 inches (2.8-3.3 cm)

The butterfly is in the middle of this photo above the rusty brown curled leaf.  It is a tiny bit larger than an Eastern Tailed-blue or a Summer Azure and blends in with the mulch on the path. Both Jackie and I took a half-dozen photos. None of them were in focus.  The butterfly constantly flitted from one spot to another.  On this photo, as we looked at it on Phil's camera screen, we could see the black spots outlined in white on the ventral (bottom) side of the hind wing.

Ruth spotted the tiny butterfly.  She has been looking for it.  It has an interesting life cycle.  Its larvae (caterpillars) eat Wooly aphids (Family-Aphididae). This makes it North America's only carniverous butterfly.  The adult butterflies feed on the honeydew exuded by the aphids.  The butterflies are often found along stream corridors and other moist places and on nearby trails where they sip for minerals in damp earth and puddles.

Below are photos of other butterflies we saw.

Eastern Tail-blue (Everes comyntas) Wingspan 0.75-1.00 inches (1.9-2.5 cm)

Northern Pearly Eye (Enodia anthedon) Wingspan 1.75-2.60 inches (4.3-6.6 cm)

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) Wingspan 4.5-5.5 inches (11.4-14.0 cm)

Hackberry Butterfly (asterocampa celtis)  Wingspan 2.0-2.6 inches (5.1-6.6 cm)

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) 1.5-2.0 inches (3.8-5.1 cm)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) Wingspan 3.5-5.5 inches (8.9-14.0 cm)

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)  Wingspan 1.75-2.50 inches (4.4-6.4 cm)

We didn't get a photo of the Peck's skipper.

But, someone spotted this walking stick and we did get photos of it.

Giant Walkingstick (Megaphasma denticrus)

Picture showing length of Giant Walkingstick.  Click on to see it better.  Red arrow points toward its head.