Friday, September 14, 2018

The Kayaking Goddesses

My new hobby!

With a flip of the seats in my Jeep, my kayak slides smoothly in with room for the paddle and the life jacket. I weave my way round the empty roads to Fox Lake (1.3 miles) where I meet up with the 101 Lake Goddesses for a kayaking adventure. 

I feel like a pro as I pull the kayak out and place it in the water, but I laugh to myself as this is only my second time to kayak ever. Ever. Okay, one time in Ocracoke I went kayaking, but it was a double kayak and I was not in charge so I do not think that counts!

The other six Goddesses show up one at a time with their kayaks (and one guy, Bill Eyster). Most are dressed in bathing suits or attire for sunshine, but I am covered from head to toe with long sleeves, long pants and a hat. I have made it a point to stay out of the sun thinking, what would Mary Shelley do? I notice right away how colorful we are with the rainbow array of kayaks! I also notice we are all so happy. I mean, who isn’t happy in a kayak? I also notice this group of independent women all have single kayaks!

With life jackets in tow, we push off one at a time. It is delicious to be out on or sitting in the water. Why did I wait so long to buy this kayak? I have been wanting to do this for years, but just hesitated. Is it because my sons kept telling me I would drown? I started looking a couple years ago, but I am often slow in decision-making. It took me three years to find this great old house! One time it took me a year to buy new silverware. However, on the other side, I once bought a Celtic harp during intermission of my storytelling show. “Lou Ann, think about how much fun you would have telling stories with a harp?” My harp is lovely. It sits on top of my piano and holds a 1930’s men’s hat!

I did not really grow up with boats, but we did come up to Lake James to visit friends when I was a teen ager! I learned to ski during those days. We all learned to ski then! My sons all have boats. Abe takes his family out into the bayous of Charleston on a weekly basis. Adam runs a charter boat business out of St. Pete. Aaron is always out on the water with his boat. I now brag to my sons that I also own a boat. They laugh at me, but I do not care. My boat is portable and was very cheap and the best part? No gas!

The six of us goddesses tool around the lake. I keep my distance from June Julien-Loff as she has a reputation as the tipping queen. We find a quiet corner to stop and visit for a while and take photos. I keep one eye out for the three beautiful swans circling around us. Jill Thomas is anchored out on her pontoon with her lovely granddaughters. I introduce everyone and they make new friendships! We decide this will be the new sandbar meet up…Fox Lake. Maybe we can even get Hubie to come out and give us a concert. Okay, stranger things have happened!

We then head out on our own. I look around the lake and see all these colorful kayaks dotting the lake. We are quiet as we glide through the water. All too soon, the afternoon ends and we head back to shore. One at a time we pull out our kayaks, drain out the water and haul them back into our cars. Reluctantly we bid farewell to one another. I drive slowly home with my kayak keeping me company. 
As I drive I think about my small covered wagon…the Jeep. Everything I need fits into the back of this vehicle. My kayak, my ukulele, my tent, and my storytelling props. For that fleeting moment, I think about the gypsy life. Yes, sell the purple house and hit the road. But then I pull into my driveway, and this old house whispers “Welcome home” so I decide to stay, at least for now.

I rest my kayak against the picket fence so I can look at it whenever I want to.
By the way, our club is open to goddesses everywhere!

This article was first published by KPC Publishing Company!

The Kayaking Goddesses!

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Architectural Tour and Stories no one has ever told you before!!

On Friday evening, September 7th, the Historic
Preservation Commission will present a new City of Angola
Historic tour.
This tour will include the Hendry Flats and the Hatchery Restaurant.
Please join us afterwards for dinner to chat about history or
anything else!
See you Friday night! 

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Home, sweet home.

House at White Picket Gardens!

The Jeep is packed. I say my goodbyes to my Fringe friends. It has been such a lovely experience for me…meeting old and new folks…but now we say farewell and head on out to cars or airports or even trains.

This day is lovely even though it is hot, and the thought of going home is always joyous for me. I take the Hamilton exit just to drive through cornfields and the late August sun still pushing the plants to grow.

Home looms and the task of unpacking is a bit daunting. Everywhere has a place, but the studio takes the brunt of the “stuff.” I stack the Mary Shelley props and scripts in a corner, but easily reachable for the next shows coming up for me.

Traveling and working out of town is such fun for me, but re-entering my life at the White Picket Gardens takes a bit of time. I need an activity, I say to myself. I cannot just sit here waiting for the re-entry process. I call Carolyn to see if she wants to go out to Powers Church with me to hear the Little River Sweet Adeline Chorus sing. Even though it is also her night off, she is game. I love that about Carolyn.

I also invite my new international student, Kumiko Kim to join us. Kimiko is from South Korea and is an English student at Trine. She is different from my other students. Kimiko is older, married, and an opera star in South Korea. I know she will be interested this music program and she quickly says “yes” so the evening will happen.

We pick up Carolyn and meander on the back roads over to the Powers Church. The image of the church against the twilight sky is breathtaking. I do not know what Kimiko is thinking, but I love this. We park in the grass and head on up to the church. Marcia Powers is at the door greeting everyone with a program and an old-fashioned fan because of the heat. We gratefully take one of each and take our seats in the front row. The church is packed, and the only air moving belongs to the multitude of fans stirring the hot air. I smile thinking about my grandmother Luella. When I went to church with her in the heat of the summer, we always had these fans. She would be very happy I was attending this program!

There is prayer and a short message before the Sweet Adelines take the stage, or should I say take most of the front of the church. The women are stunning in turquoise, and sing their hearts out without the benefit of their fans!
The program varies from gospel to patriotic, and I find myself crying. I whisper to Carolyn, “I feel as if I am attending our own memorial service for John McCain. I just cannot help but think of him while listening to these songs.
Time stands still for a while as we sit in this wonderful old church built in 1876. How many weddings, funerals, revivals have been held here over the many years?

The program is over much too fast. Folks pile out of the church to head over to the ice cream social. We take our time taking photos, greeting folks before we head out to the prairie to take Carolyn home. We pop in to watch the sunset from the deck. Elten delivers cold white summer wine as we watch the beauty on their own prairie. 

Kumiko loves the view and meeting new friends. She quickly puts Elten and Carolyn into her phone contact list. We all sit and chat a while about the Fringe and Frankenfest and life in general.

The full moon guides us back home well after dark. I do not go inside, no, not quite yet. I sit in the garden and watch the shadows in the garden deepen with the moon. It is good to be home. So much to do…so many folks to see.
And should I want to visit Powers Church again (and I do!), a Christmas program will finish out their year of programming on November 25 at 3:00. As Marcia pointed out, we will not need our fans on that day.

I am not sure what Kumiko thinks of all of this, but I do know it is just the beginning of adventures for a South Korean girl visiting Angola, Indiana.
As for me, I am home.

First published on September 1st in KPC Media.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Last show of the Fringe!

I knew it was a great idea to bring Jacob McNeal into my show. I also knew it would change his life forever. Here is one of his accounts on Facebook. The Fringe is definitely full of magic!! 

This is from Scene 2 of our show.

The fringe, the fringe...
I knew I would love it; but there are some things you just can't predict, and how much I've fallen in love with this festival was one of those things.

It starts in the day and lurks on into the night, the people and shows are amazing. Some shows are the strangest thing you'll ever see, others; the most captivating - and some that are just plain fun! I have seen a lot and experienced a lot in the very short time I've been here, and it's been amazing.

The reception has been great for Mary and Her Monsters, we get good size responsive audiences. It's a pleasure to help, in a small way, to transport people into the amazing life of Mary Shelley.
People always say "I had no idea what she went through..." and at times during each show, the emotional impact is palpable. All ages, all genders and sexualities have been mesmerized, I think the show is pretty perfect. The lighting and transitions are smooth and elegant, thanks to our young lighting pro, Melia!

It's also been fun to have people come up and say things like "That Voice!" "Oh, your voice is hypnotic..." and possibly my favorite "Will you talk to my friend, I just want her to hear you speak!" ~
As we stay 100% for our last two shows, tonight at 10:30 and tomorrow at 7:30, the excitement continues...
And we already have more shows booked beyond the fringe; but more about that later.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Mary Shelley!

Opening scene of Mary Shelley.

This is when she has been delivered Percy's heart.

It looks like I should be singing, but I am wondering what should Mary do! 

This is my fifth Fringe show, and one of my very favorites. I love portraying Mary Shelley. There are still two shows remaining Friday and Saturday night!
Come on down!

Special thanks to photographer Michael Drury for the photos!

Monday, August 20, 2018

And the show goes on...

This photo was taken after our first dress rehearsal.

Here is my week's column about the Indy Fringe! As always, thanks for reading! (This was first published by KPC Media News!)

The drive to Indy is quiet except for the sound of the rain on the rooftop of my Jeep. I turn on the radio. I turn off the radio. I cannot concentrate on the news or even listen to the music, as the only words in my head are those from my Mary Shelley script. The rain is good, I think. The rain matches the mood of that eventful night she began “Frankenstein.” Yes, it is definitely a dark and stormy day.

I park at Ellen’s where I will be staying for the next eleven days and haul my gear up to my small room under the eaves. This has been my room for over twenty years. Once, when Ellen’s parents were still living, I complained that my mattress was a bit lumpy. For Christmas, I received a new mattress and a quilt.

The rain is heavy as I head out to the Fringe. Dodging the drops, I duck into my theatre, my other home for the week. It is a black box theatre, built just for the Fringe. My guess is that it seats 80 or so folks. I meet Maleah, the technician for this theatre, Fire House Museum Theatre. Maleah is young, and has great ideas for the show. As she looks over the script, she begins to take notes. Her light board is an antique, she says, but a good experience. Maleah plans to major in theatre lighting in college. I question her a few times, “Do you think this is too much? Are you sure you can do this?” She is not a bit shy on her confidence. My two hours fly by, and I head out to the beer tent for the preview. I have one minute to promote my show. One minute. I have worked for months and months. One minute. I give it my best shot, receive the applause from a beer-happy audience and take a bow. 

I meet a few friends, but then drive back via the grocery to stock up for the week. I know there will be dinners out after every show, but breakfast and lunch will be healthy choices in Ellen’s kitchen. The house is filling up with other artists. Somewhat like an artist colony, perhaps. 

By noon on Thursday, Jacob arrives. I chat about our show and Maleah, and the excitement builds. We are one of the first 12 shows to begin the Fringe at 6:00. We haul out our props, take a last look at our scripts, change clothes, and begin the deep breathing. 

This opening night feeling is always the same. I ask myself why I do this…I question my own sanity to put myself through this, and often wish I were just back home weeding my garden in Angola. It is at this moment I miss home. It is also at this moment that I would not really trade places. This is where I must be.

I love that two artsy folks from Angola will begin the Indy Fringe. My heart is beating so fast that I take deep breaths. The show is introduced, the stage goes dark, and we take our place. Maleah has impeccable timing and ideas, the lights go on, and we are off into the dark world of theatre where nothing else in the world matters.

An hour of talking speeds by as if only seconds, and the show is over. We change, put away our props, and meet other theatre folks for dinner. The conversation flows like wine. Other folks in the restaurant pop over to tell us they really liked our show and will tell their friends. Ah, yes, that is the best advertising! We also pass out our mass printed Fringe cards inviting folks to our show. Payment for these shows is only by attendance!

Back at Ellen’s we gather for a late night discussion. The rain continues to pour down, but I am not daunted by weather. I want to talk shop. Theatre. Storytelling. Music. Art.

Day one of the Fringe is over, ten more to go. Five more shows for us, and in between shows, there are more shows. Sixty-three other shows for us to see, should we choose. Performer badges allow us the freedom of sitting in any audience we choose.  There will be rain. There will be old and new friendships. There will be late nights for discussions about theatre and art.

And there will be five more shows of Mary and Her Monsters!