Sunday, February 28, 2010

The End Of The World Is At Hand

I have finally come to the conclusion that I seem to be one of the few people living in the real world. Evidently, almost everyone else is living in some sort of alternate universe, because how else would you explain this? I clicked on 1010Wins, which I usually find a reliable source for NYC news of the quick variety (I basically get up and read newspapers every morning for substantive stuff...the NYTimes to find out what's going on in the world, the NY Daily News to find out what's going on in New York, and the NY Post to find out who was sleeping with whom when all of it happened...this gives me quite a well-rounded view), and I found the following headline:

Ice, Glass Fall Into Sony Bldg., Jersey Shore Cast OK

Jersey Shore Cast OK? Is this what we've come to, people, when all of our concern is about the Jersey Shore cast? Good GOD. And besides that, I can't see what possible danger could have come to them, what with those hairdos. How could falling glass even penetrate all that hair spray, for heaven's sake?

Meanwhile, I am cleaning out a closet. I realize that this would take some people a couple of hours, but I have deeply mysterious, many layered closets. This particular one, for instance, has so far yielded up:

A pile of Joshua's old suits, which went out with the garbage
A large box of miscellaneous animal VCR tapes, ditto (National Geographic stuff, bought for Sarah when she was little - I wouldn't want you to get the wrong idea)
Two huge garbage bags of Sarah's old stuffed animals, out to the garbage
Two fishing rods
A camping lantern (Matthew's notion of disaster preparedness)
A rope ladder (more disaster stuff)
A very expensive full length black leather trenchcoat of Joshua's that I found balled up on the floor of the closet (the thing must have cost a thousand bucks...I don't know WHAT to do about it)

And would you believe I haven't yet hit the floor of the closet? I'm getting slightly frightened.

Ah, but tomorrow is a gorgeous day! Admittedly there's a slight transportation problem, but I'm going out to be fitted for my new spring costume for BOARDWALK EMPIRE again! YAHOO! Unfortunately, they evidently splashed out on the pilot episode and are cutting back, and therefore I have to make my own way out to a place near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is about a hundred miles from anywhere in the world. Bus, then subway, then bus...God help me. For the pilot, they provided transport out there. Growl. Shooting March 9th. YAY!

Meanwhile, weird things are going on with my play...but that's another story. Tomorrow...or probably the next day, since I still have to find the floor of that damn closet.

Love, Wendy

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Air, Space, Freedom!

Well, at least Caesar came over tonight, and Vicky was here (that strong, strong woman), so I am now missing the absolutely AWFUL broken down armoire that my late husband dragged in (yeah, that would be the one made out of badly chipped particle board with the permanently stuck door that he found on the street one night and decided we needed), the old dresser of Sarah's that Joshua lugged downstairs, and ditto the bent and dented file cabinet. I feel immensely lightened.

I will now (since we've run out of large garbage nights until next Wednesday) continue to pile up nice neat bags of garbage. Next Wednesday it's those awful rugs that Joshua kept dragging home, which were bought new, but his color blindness (well, he'd have to be) kept him from seeing that in a black, red and white living room, an olive, gold and avocado rug was not quite what one had in mind. Not to mention the pale beige one he dragged in off the street for my bedroom. It is deeply amazing what one elderly incontinent cat (who also throws up, like any normal cat) can do to a beige rug in an astonishingly short space of time.

Oh, I tell you, I'm going to have to watch myself very closely here before I throw out everything I own. This massive cleaning up spree is truly liberating and altogether delightful...I have started on the small closet in my room (I can't tell you how much I'm going to miss the abundant storage in this house...but fewer things equals better living). So far I have removed and dispensed with ANOTHER large bag of Sarah's damn stuffed animals and a whole raft of Joshua's awful they have been sitting in that box in that closet for about seven years, I did so without fear of reprisals. If you haven't thought of or looked for something in seven years, you really, REALLY don't need it.

So I cooked dinner for me and my helpers, and tomorrow...yes, well, that's tomorrow, isn't it. It's supposed to be a perfectly ghastly day. We have a large storm bearing down on us, but no one seems quite certain whether it will deliver high winds and a horrible rain/snow mix or 14 inches of snow. It depends on something or other called a storm track...hey, am I a meteorologist? I am stocked for food (mine and Horrible Cat's), and I can ALWAYS battle my way to the deli for the other necessities of life...i.e., cigarettes and my three daily papers.

And gladsome news! My dear Saint Tiger Lily is madly procreating! So as soon as the weather makes it possible, I am off to the yarn store to make something pretty for what I'm sure will be the loveliest baby ever in the world. Actually, I can't wait...I like knitting baby clothes because they're small and manageable. Unlike my two knitting specialties, which are large afghans (which get very cumbersome to drag about toward the end) and classic Irish sweaters...because I use the proper unbleached lanolin filled wool, which weighs a ton. Baby stuff, on the other hand, is tiny and light. Oh, and if you should feel like embarking on an item for a baby, it must have one essential property: WASHABLE. In a machine. Dryable in a dryer. If you don't have children, trust me on this one. NOTHING intended for a baby should EVER say "hand wash only" or "dry clean only." That's just silly.

And now, having found (behind that damn dresser, because Joshua chose to shove it right against a bookshelf that HAD BOOKS IN IT, I am going to bed with a favorite old collection of science fiction stuff from the 50's and early 60's.

I shall leave you with this thought: GARBAGE IS GOOD!

Love, Wendy

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tape Measures

Well, today my handsome real estate person Richard came over with a lovely guy named Doug and they proceeded to run all over my house with a tape measure to make a floor plan of it. Doug was also a lovely guy (though not a young looker like Richard), so we all had a lovely time listening to me explain that yes, at some point we really ARE going to take all those hearts and stars off the ceiling. Maybe. When I can get someone to haul out the ladder and do it, that is. As we all know by now, I am having a TON of trouble calling in all those offers of help made when I first said I was going to sell the house. However, Caesar has confirmed this coming Wednesday, and tomorrow night I am going to haul myself out to Williamsburg and completely upset Seth's (Sarah's boyfriend) birthday party by leaping on everybody able bodied, wrestling them to the floor, and not letting them up until they promise to come over on Wednesday TO HAUL OUT THE DAMN FURNITURE. And make them sign a pledge - in blood. Me to supply the baked ziti, of course.

Since Caesar isn't coming over tonight, and therefore I don't have anyone to feed but myself, I'm sitting here getting progressively hungrier and wondering what I want for dinner. I'm wavering between Chinese and pizza, neither one of which will be very good because our good Chinese places (both of them) have closed and so did our across the street pizza joint. This means that I'm stuck with either the cheap Chinese joint over on Christopher or Domino's...ah, wait. Vicky just mentioned curry. Now there's a thought...

Meanwhile, rehearsal again last night, exhausting as usual. But Ted and Philippe love my notion for the end of the show (no, I'm not going to tell you...I'll post the video or if you're in town, you can come see it), which is good.

I had every intention of getting to one of my upstairs closets, which contains more of Sarah's damn stuffed animals and God knows what else (it's hard to see under all those stuffed animals), but I just couldn't make myself do it. Not after watching all those Olympics last night, anyway. And wow! The Americans finally won men's figure skating gold! I happen to be a fan of figure skating, and really, it got depressing...every time you saw a Russian get on the ice for a while there, you just said, oh, well, that's the gold. And it was. But this was great to watch, and since it was live, you got to see our guy Evan when he read the scores and suddenly realized that he had won the gold. It was wonderful!

Ah, well. Time to look through my menus and decide what to eat...last night after rehearsal I was so tired that I had sardines on crackers for dinner, but tonight I really would like an actual meal.

Love, Wendy

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

All Alone On A Wednesday

Yes, that would be Wednesday. As in, the day all the big furniture bits can go out to the curb. As in the ONLY day all week that this can happen. And here I am, sitting in unabated solitude. I wonder what it was about Help Me! that no one understood? Ah, well. I'll try again next week.

Meanwhile, I have taken two weeks worth of garbage out to the curb, and now that I think of it, it's probably just as well that no one came to deal with the big stuff, since there actually isn't any more room out there. There were 10 bags of garbage and a box full of boxes...and there's still a pile of snow that I had to rather precariously balance it all on. Yes, definitely better to try taking out big stuff NEXT week.

Meanwhile, my brother-in-law and nephew and Sarah and Seth came over to dinner last night, and we had a lovely time, thank you. Not that my first husband's family weren't perfectly nice people, but their idea of filling a bookshelf was Reader's Digest Condensed Books. It's a pleasure to be a member of a family with whom one can actually converse.

So I did my usual chicken with its head cut off number all day, running through all the cookbooks looking for something cheap and filling, and finally gently kicked myself in the head and said, Martha's, you blithering idiot. What else?

I first tasted this casserole about 45 years ago, when friends used to make it for every cast party. It has a number of assets, such as: It's cheap. You can cut it in half or multiply it indefinitely. The entire process takes something under an hour from the time you start to boil water for noodles until the time it goes on the table, and it sits in the oven for half an hour of that time, which gives you a clear space to organize bread and a salad, which is all it needs in the way of accompaniments. And best of all, everybody in the whole world loves it. This includes a nice Chinese man who once came to have dinner with us when Sarah was a baby...he had a letter of introduction from somebody or another (my mother-in-law and one of my brothers-in-law were among the first 50 Americans invited to teach in China after the Cultural Revolution). Anyway, I was making Martha's, and I was somewhat disturbed about it because the Chinese not only dislike dairy products, but they tend toward lactose intolerance. He had three helpings, as I recall.

At any rate, without further ado:

Martha's Company Casserole (from my 1960's Good Housekeeping Cookbook)

8 oz. wide egg noodles
1 tbsp. butter
1 lb. ground chuck
2 8-oz. cans of tomato sauce
8 oz. cottage cheese
8 oz. whipped cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1 bunch of scallions, chopped (1/4 inch chunks, more or less)
2 tbsps. melted butter

Preheat oven to 375. Boil, then drain the noodles. While they boil, mix the two cheeses, the sour cream and the chopped scallions (include some of the green for pretty). Cook the meat (breaking it up as you go) in the 1 tbsp. of butter, drain it, and add the two cans of tomato sauce and some salt and pepper to it. Then put half the noodles in a 2 quart casserole dish. Spread the cheese mixture over them. Put the rest of the noodles on top of that, then the meat mixture on top of THAT. Pour the 2 tbsps. of butter over the top, and stick it, uncovered, into the oven for half an hour. That is all. This makes about 6 servings...there were five of us last night, and there was one tiny spoonful left.

Now, a couple of words about the recipe. It originally had some chopped green pepper in it, but I happen to roundly detest green pepper except on a street fair sausage sandwich, so I have always left it out. You may throw it in if you want it.

Now, this is very important. Peg Bracken, in the I Hate To Cook Book, remarked of one of her recipes something like, "You may be tempted to try and gussy this up. Don't. Some recipes were born complicated and some weren't, and this one wasn't." This is ABSOLUTELY true of Martha's. It is what it is. I have, over the years, been tempted to use some Bolognese sauce, maybe, in place of the plain old ground chuck, tomato sauce and salt and pepper. Or maybe throw in some garlic. But it just won't work. Martha's is for when it's been a cold, blowy, wet, snowy day and what you want is something hot and filling and plain ordinary good that doesn't take huge efforts. You may take your truffles elsewhere.

Oh, and one more warning, which may actually apply only to me. Please be careful shopping when you have been making a recipe for 45 years and usually do it with your eyes shut. I got as far as mixing the cheeses and the sour cream and the scallions last night when I looked down at the bowl and noticed some little odd yellow bits in it. Turns out that I had grabbed 8 ounces of cottage cheese AND PINEAPPLE. Luckily I got Sarah and Seth on their way over and asked them to stop at the store, so the day was saved. I had some strange notion of standing there and painstakingly picking every single tiny little pineapple crumb out, but then when I tried the cottage cheese, it still tasted all pineappley, and I assure you this does NOT improve the dish at all. The moral, of course, is READ THE LABEL, STUPID.

Other than that culinary exercise, I bounced off downtown for a couple of hours today, under the impression that I had a good two days at 21 bucks an hour (another transcription turned up for me to do), but the damn thing was so short that I knocked it off in two and a half hours. Well, rats because of the money, but good because of all the other stuff I have to do - top on the list, and coming right after breakfast and the papers tomorrow, is getting all my Medicare stuff organized and signed up for. Yay for cheap prescriptions!

So I am going to sit here and finish my beer and go to bed, because Sarah stayed over last night, and even though she woke herself up, God bless her, I (of course...once a mom...) woke up when I heard her in the bathroom at 4:30 am. I did get back to sleep for a bit, but broken sleep is broken sleep, and I'm tired. And rehearsal tomorrow night...I need to go to bed.

Hey, maybe I'll have cooked something else more or less interesting by the time I get back to this page...although I doubt it.

Love, Wendy

Monday, February 15, 2010

Well, At Least I Bought Some Paint...

Boy, this "getting the house in shape" crud is difficult. I actually damn near killed myself by trotting off to KMart and buying two gallons of paint (two bathrooms and the kitchen cabinets, that is) and all the other stuff one needs...paint brushes, rollers, know. I'm here to tell you that that shit is HEAVY. Also, just so you know, KMart bags are fragile in the extreme. One of mine broke before I even got into a taxi. That was a damn nuisance.

Then of course, nothing could be done about taking the garbage out last Wednesday because of our "blizzard." 10 inches of snow. I am invariably amazed at the hysteria New York (and New York weather people in particular) can display when confronted with actual weather. They seem just fine with fair and warmer and a little rain, but anything after that brings forth a barrage of references to the "storm of the century," "blizzard," "massive amounts of rain," and other forms of completely unwarranted craziness. I mean, it's winter. You get snow. It's spring. You get rain. It's summer. You get thunderstorms. And the rest of the city just goes leaping along behind the weather people...all the newspapers and news stations, for instance, warn you about water in the subway system. Um, people, have you ever noticed those grids in the streets? Have you ever noticed that you can hear (and feel) the subway through them? Has it ever occurred to your cute little pea sized brain what might, just MIGHT possibly happen, if you pour water over the grids? Gee, it goes into the subway? Ya think? Sheesh.

So trying to paint has been iffy, what with all that garbage lying around waiting to be taken out, and giving my living room a faint background aura of "bar the morning after," with all those beer cans...oh, and did I mention we had a Valentine Day's party on Saturday? This means, aside from the eau de booze drifting around my house, I have to get Sarah and/or Vicky to take down the hearts they stuck on the ceiling...not to mention the stars left over from New Year's Eve, which they decided to leave up for Valentine's Day. Oh, yes, and all those hearts taped to the walls, although I can reach those.

But I could hardly paint things the day of a party. So that got put off, and I was going to get to it today, but Sarah informed me that my brother-in-law and nephew are coming to have dinner with us tomorrow I couldn't very well paint today (it has to dry, obviously) and I can't do it tomorrow. Now Wednesday might be a good day, except that I think people are coming over to move out my furniture (the junk I'm getting rid of)...and Thursday night I have rehearsal.

Ah, yes. Rehearsal. We're fully into it now, and it is exhausting. I made the guys (director Ted and playwright Philippe) quit in the middle last week because I was dropping. This is the period of rehearsal (right after the first read-throughs) when the REAL work begins. Line by line by line, getting out every single meaning, every single shape of a thought, every single possible can, in a role as large as this one, easily spend an hour on a single arc of the script. My script is beginning to look like a real working script, peppered with notes, which is great, because it means we're getting of those notes, I noticed today, reads, "Think Funny Face." Yes, well, I know what I mean, and nobody else has to...they'll see the effect of the note. They don't need to know how I got it.

Boy, it's satisfying, though. Movies are lovely in terms of giving me nice money and feeding me food, but they don't feed anything else. As I always say (ad infinitum, as a matter of fact), background work isn't acting. This play is ACTING. And I love it.

I am going to bed...tomorrow morning I have to get up and actually get dressed and figure out what to cook for dinner tomorrow night (something cheap, that being where the finances are) and then go buy it, and pick up prescriptions, and go to the library because for reasons that escape me, New York State no longer sends out income tax forms. No, I don't have to go to the library, of all odd places, to get them. You're supposed to be able to get them at the post office, but our little branch never has them.

So a full day. I think I'll sleep late Wednesday.

Love, Wendy

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Machine Lurches Slowly Into Action

Well, I seem to be actually selling my house. Yes, yes, I know I've been maundering on about this for quite some time now, but today my actual real estate person came to see me! His name is Richard, he's absolutely gorgeous and absolutely gay, and absolutely WAY too young for me even if he wasn't, but what the hell. If I'm going to have a real estate person, he might just as well be decorative and charming, right?

Due to Richard's arrival today, I have been hysterically cleaning house, and I must say it does look reasonably decent in the parts I was most worried about...i.e., my bedroom and the bathrooms. There's nothing much I can do about the living room because it's where all the bags of garbage are going to die. Our garbage schedule around here is regular garbage goes out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, and the stuff for recycling can only go out on Wednesday. For those of us who give parties, or for that matter just have friends over, this is a horrible nuisance because it means you have to live with bags and bags of beer cans and wine bottles...and if you give a party on a Saturday, you can imagine. And naturally, a large part of my cleaning effort is THROWING SHIT OUT, so there's lots and lots of garbage. Seven bags of it went out tonight, which pleased me. Happiness is things actually leaving the house. Unfortunately, I have Vicky, which is lovely because she's a perfect roommate, but she's also an artist, so every time I drag out more garbage, Vicky turns up with large bags of various things for art installations to be done at some future time.

Meanwhile, as Vicky remarked a bit earlier when she stopped by to pick up her bags of empty cans, empty cigarette packs, and the little bag of cigarette butts (she's set decorating on a new sit, I don't know what the hell the set must look like if those are props), since I took down the curtains to wash them, my house now has a distinctly Rear Window flavor. You can see in the window straight through into the kitchen, which does make me feel quite oddly I'm staying thoroughly dressed until I get upstairs to bed. Tomorrow I'm going to wash the window and put the curtains back up.

Other than all this mad housekeeping, I actually went uptown to the theatre last night! City Center has a program called Encores, which resuscitates old musicals. It's almost invariably well reviewed, and almost invariably impossible to get into, but one of my discount theatre sites emailed me with an offer for a $40 dollar ticket for last night, and I leaped at it. It was a show called Fanny, which is one of my favorites, and of which I know every line and every song backwards and forwards, and I've never seen it before. And in case this sounds somewhat odd, ask an actor...the reason I never saw it was because I fell in love with it when I was IN it, of course. And it was just lovely. It was made into a movie later with Leslie Caron and, I'm pretty sure, Horst Buchholz. It's very romantic and melodic (Harold Rome) and I had a wonderful time, thank you.

Rehearsal tomorrow night, sleeping late tomorrow morning (because I cleaned my adorable little bottom off all day, thank you).

And a very good evening to you!

Love, Wendy