Sewing, Photography, Hanging out, Working.

That’s pretty much what the last few weeks has consisted of. It’s been great.

Santa Monica beach

Santa Monica beach

Suzanne at the Cooper/Bowen pool party

Suzanne at the Cooper/Bowen pool party

Hiking at Verdugo Mountain

Hiking at Verdugo Mountain

Photographing Lyn as the Lady of the Lake

Photographing Lyn as the Lady of the Lake

My latest finished sewing project - the Mendocino Sundress

My latest finished sewing project - the Mendocino Sundress

Ryan comes tomorrow for a week! Can’t wait to see him!

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Happy Days

I drove up to the Bay Area last week to be there for my brother Nick’s kidney transplant. Nick was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease over ten years ago and his kidney function has been slowly declining since then. My sister, Becky, who is the bravest person I know, offered one of her kidneys to Nick. I will be forever in awe of her selflessness.

The surgeries were on Wednesday and both went so smoothly – the doctors raved about how beautiful Becky’s donated kidney was, and it started working in Nick immediately. Both Becky and Nick were home by the weekend, and although they are still sore and recuperating, their respective kidney functions are doing amazingly well. We couldn’t have asked for a more seamless and smooth transplant. Please remember them in your prayers for their ongoing road to health.

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I got back to LA on Friday night, exhausted, and just in time for a five show weekend 🙂 The only thing I did of note over the weekend, was to go over to the Grand Central Market in downtown LA between shows on Sunday. The market is primarily Mexican food vendors – there is lots of ready-to-eat stuff as well as booths filled with spices and produce. It was fun to walk around and I picked up some goodies for dinner.

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On Sunday night we bid goodbye to Sarah Lin Johnson, one of our swings, who is leaving to join the “Young Frankenstein” tour, and also Rick Holmes, who was playing a limited engagement with our company as “Lancelot”. We had drinks for them the night before at Kendall’s, a nice bar at the Music Center.

On Monday I ran some errands, and then spent the evening at Chris and Sean’s. Chris made up some of his delicious fish tacos and invited a group of friends over to partake. One of the attendees was our friend Mark, who Chris and I both went to college with. I hadn’t seen Mark in years and it was great to catch up with him and to meet his wife Brooke and their new puppy.

On Tuesday Suzanne and I did a hike in the San Gabriel mountains near Altadena. It was a nice easy trail, mostly covered by shady trees. It followed a creek to a waterfall – the water levels were so low though, that there were a lot of annoying bugs in the air. If we go back, we will definitely take bug spray next time! It was a really beautiful hike, though, and a different terrain than most of other other hikes, which have been more desert-like.

On the trail with Suzanne

On the trail with Suzanne

On Thursday night I went out for drinks after the show with Suzanne, Tom and Vicki Perrin, and Tim. We went to the Dresden Room, an old school lounge in Los Feliz. It was a fun night – an early goodbye to Tim, who leaves at the end of next week to start grad school.

Tim

Tim

Tom and Vicki

Tom and Vicki

And of course, there has been sewing! We are working on sundresses in class now, but in the meantime I have finished two tops – both Amy Butler patterns.

Lotus Cami

Lotus Cami

Anna Tunic

Anna Tunic

I love them both, although I’m thinking of shortening the second top so that is a little less like a tunic, and more cami-length.

I can’t believe I only have about two months left on the road!  I’ve finished all my housing and car reservations for the rest of the tour, and have almost finished my planning for the one-week lay-off we have in October. My car reservation is made for my cross-country trip back to New York, and I have a sublet reserved in Harlem for the month of November while I look for my own place. Its been an amazing three years, and it is interesting to be doing these long sit-downs at the end of the tour. It is totally easing me back into apartment life, and into life in one place. I am actually really looking forward to finally getting back to the east coast, and getting my own apartment, and seeing my things again. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t tour again, because in actuality, I would love to (and soon!), but I am definitely in need of some re-grouping and re-organizing and some centering. I think getting back to having my own “home” again will be great for that. I’m sure Tallulah will be glad for the rest, too!

But in the meantime, I have four more weeks in LA before I have to pack up the suitcases again, and I am going to enjoy them to the fullest!

Life in Los Angeles

The days have been lazily running together here, which has been so, so nice. I’ve been up early every day and filling my free time with lots of things that I love – sewing, knitting, watching movies, hiking and seeing friends. Not so much sightseeing – and that’s okay by me. I’ve just been living a normal life for once!

I’ve also been doing lots of planning for the next couple of months. I have all my housing booked through the end of the tour. After getting used to apartment living again I’ve decided that I really can’t bear to go back to a hotel, so I’ve managed to book vacation rentals for the rest of our engagements, except for San Jose. That’s okay – I can deal with one more hotel. In reality, there will be more than just one more hotel. We have a week off after our stay in Tucson, which I am in the process of planning what to do during that time – I’m thinking maybe a day or two in Sedona, then a few days at the Grand Canyon, and then maybe the weekend in Vegas. There’s also a cross-country trip to plan. That’s right! I’m driving across the country after we close in Costa Mesa, taking two weeks to get back to New York City, with stops along the way to visit friends. Really, all this travel planning has been the most exhausting part of the last three weeks in LA, which have otherwise been really relaxing. Oh, and I think I may have a sublet lined up for November in New York City, which, when it is all officially settled, will be a big load off my mind.

So back to things I’ve been doing here. I’ve been hiking a lot with Suzanne, one of our hair supervisors. We’ve been going out twice a week to check out the trails around town. We’ve hiked Runyon Canyon, Mount Hollywood and Verdugo Mountain (which almost killed us!). Its been a really great way to get some exercise, and to get a totally different perspective on Los Angeles.

Hiking Mount Hollywood

Hiking Mount Hollywood

Atop Verdugo Mountain

Atop Verdugo Mountain

Above the Hollywood sign

Above the Hollywood sign

I’ve spent some time with a couple of great friends. I’ve met up with Chris a few times – we went to Venice Beach on my first Monday off and then made dinner back at Chris’s house with his boyfriend, Sean. Chris and I also went fabric shopping in the Garment District at the palatial Michael Levine’s, and he took me to the Renegade Craft Fair (which was SO awesome!). I also met up with my friend Kathryn, who is in town working for the summer. Kathryn and I worked together at ACT and both moved to NYC around the same time. She left town for a few years to go to grad school, but now is back and I’m looking forward to hanging out with her lots when I am back in New York in the fall. Her job brought her to Santa Monica this summer until August. We met up for lunch at the Alcove Cafe in Los Feliz (which was so cute, and super delicious), and then we drove up to the Griffith Observatory and walked around for a bit.

Christopher at Venice Beach

Christopher at Venice Beach

Shopping in the Garment District

Shopping in the Garment District

Kathryn at the Observatory

Kathryn at the Observatory

Me at the Observatory

Me at the Observatory

There has also been lots of sewing happening! I have been continuing to meet up with Roy and Suzanne on Thursday afternoons at work to do some sewing in the wardrobe room under Roy’s tutelage. But there’s been lots of sewing at home, too. I’ve finished a set of placemats and napkins for Ryan, and two skirts from kits for myself. In “class” I finished an Amy Butler top – photos of that to come.  I’m so pleased that I actually made good on my word, and finally learned how to sew! I have been saying forever that I wanted to get one of the many talented wardrobe folks that I have worked with to teach me, and I finally did!

Placemat and napkin (part of a set of 8)

Placemat and napkin (part of a set of 8)

Clothkits skirt

Clothkits skirt

I’ve been enjoying the lifestyle here in LA so much – I know I probably wouldn’t like it in the winter (I do love the seasons on the east coast), but as far as summers go, LA is a pretty perfect place to spend one. I’ve been going to the farmer’s market in Hollywood every Sunday to stock up on fruits and veggies for the week, and have been spending a lot of time out on my sunny patio (as has Tallulah – she loves lying on the brick, or in the shade behind the plants).

At the Hollywood Farmer's Market

At the Hollywood Farmer's Market

Berries at the Farmer's Market

Berries at the Farmer's Market

Tallulah lounging on the patio

Tallulah lounging on the patio

Two outings that I have done that border on “sightseeing” were visiting The Grove, and also the Annenberg Space for Photography. The Grove is a beautiful outdoor mall – its smaller than I expected, but very pretty, with fountains and brick streets – I spent an afternoon walking around, partaking in some retail therapy 🙂 And the Annenberg Space for Photography is an awesome museum in Century City. Currently the exhibit is “Pictures of the Year International” – the winning photographs of the top photojournalism competition in the world. The photographs in that exhibit are astounding – the images are so full of emotion and story and power. Some of the images I don’t know how the photographer captured them without getting themselves killed. I spent a lot of time wandering through and then spent a good hour watching a couple of slideshows in their digital gallery. I so recommend going and seeing this exhibit if you are in LA – these photographers really do make good on their promise “to give the voiceless a voice.”

And that’s how life is going here. Oh yes, and there’s the show as well! It’s doing really well here – the audiences aren’t quite as rambunctious as San Francisco, but the houses have been full and appreciative.

I go back to the Bay Area for a few days this week for my brother’s kidney transplant (please keep he and my sister in your prayers for a smooth and quick recovery!) and then I’ll be back in LA for another five glorious weeks!

Last Days in San Francisco

When Ryan and I got back to the city after the weekend in Tahoe, we realized we had very little time left in San Francisco before it would be time for me to go to Los Angeles, and for Ryan to head home – so we made a game plan to try and fit in as much as we could in the time left.

One thing I really wanted to make sure we did was head over to my old neighborhood in the Richmond district. We took the bus over there one day and walked through the streets of Seacliff, by all the big houses, to the entrance to Baker Beach. From there we had a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge – there was a bit of fog, like always, but we managed to get some decent photos. Then we walked over to Land’s End, and hiked the coastal trail along the cliffs, past the Legion of Honor, ending up at the ruins of the Sutro Baths. It is so pretty over at that end of San Francisco, you hardly know you are in the city.

At Baker Beach

At Baker Beach

At the Sutro Baths

At the Sutro Baths

Our next to last weekend in San Francisco was Pride Weekend. It was pretty crazy in our neighborhood, being so close to Castro Street – we were definitely in the thick of things. We tried to take a cab home on Saturday night after having drinks downtown with Neil, Laura, Chris and Lorin, who had come to see “Spamalot” that night, but the streets were all closed off around the Castro, so we had to walk through crowds and crowds of people (at 1am!) for about five blocks to get home. I had Sunday afternoon off at work. As the parade went directly past the theater, it was literally impossible for patrons to get there, so we had no matinee, but a Sunday evening show instead. To escape the crowds, Ryan and I went over to North Beach for the afternoon to shop at City Lights and get lunch at Mario’s. We sat in Washington Square Park and enjoyed the sunshine.

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Castro Street at 1am on Pride Weekend

Castro Street at 1am on Pride Weekend

On Monday, I rented a car and we drove down to Sunnyvale, where (after lunch at In-and-Out Burger!) I bought a sewing machine! I got the Janome 2010, and so far I love it! Everyone at Eddie’s Quilting Bee (where I bought the machine) was very helpful, and I definitely feel like I got the right machine for me.

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In the afternoon, Ryan and I went to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. I hadn’t been there for years, since I was a little kid, and Ryan really wanted to go. It’s a fun place to see – such a crazy house with doors and stairways leading to nowhere. The woman who owned the house, Sarah Winchester, believed that she had to keep building on the house in order to ward off evil spirits. Its definitely a fun place to check out if you are ever in the area.

After that, we met up with a couple of old friends of mine for dinner. I’ve known Gina and Dawn almost my whole life – they grew up around the corner from me, and we were inseparable when we were younger. It was really nice to see them and to catch up.

Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House

With Gina and Dawn

With Gina and Dawn

The next day, back in San Francisco, Ryan and I toured Alcatraz. The first time I went to Alcatraz wasn’t until my twenties, and I couldn’t believe I had never gone before. It is a really interesting tour, and the audio recording that accompanies it is really well done. It was fun to take the ferry there with Ryan and to see the place again with him. We made it back to North Beach in time to have dinner at The Stinking Rose before I had to go downtown for work. Such a nice day!

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Sadly, on Wednesday, it was time for Ryan to begin his long trek back to Wisconsin. He had planned a longer route back, stopping in Denver for a few days around the fourth of July. It was sad to say goodbye to him again, especially after getting back into a routine together, but he is hoping to come out to Los Angeles for a visit in August, so it won’t be too long before we get to see each other again.

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I spent Thursday and Friday tying up loose ends and packing. I had lunch with a couple of friends – Regina on Thursday and Andrea on Friday. We finished up the weekend of shows and then on Monday, I drove down highway 5 to Los Angeles.

We are playing LA for nine weeks, even longer than we were in San Francisco, so I was very, very happy to find that the apartment I had rented was so perfect. It is cute and comfortable, and has a really nice outdoor space, which is enclosed, so Tallulah can spend time outside without me worrying that she will get out. The area is nice, too – I am living in Beachwood Canyon, which is adjacent to the Hollywood Hills and very close to Griffith Park. The commute to work hasn’t been too bad either.

My dear friend Christopher, who I went to college with and who I was roommates with in New York (but who lives here now) met me at the apartment and helped me unpack. We had dinner that night with his boyfriend Sean, and I got to see their cute new house.

The living room at my LA rental

The living room at my LA rental

My patio in LA

My patio in LA

Load-in Tuesday was sort of run-of-the-mill at work, overshadowed by the fact that Michael Jackson’s funeral was taking place just down the street at the Staples Center. I wasn’t a huge MJ fan growing up, but there is no denying his cultural impact on my generation. It is a strange thing, his passing. I still haven’t quite grasped it. It’s the end of something big.

Our official “opening” was Wednesday night and we had a big party afterwards on the roof at The Standard Hotel. Christopher and Sean came with me as my dates, and we had a really nice time. There were some celebrities there, which was kind of fun – including our own Richard Chamberlain. It was funny to see the likes of Richard Chamberlain relaxing on a waterbed pod next to the pool! How LA!

So now “Spamalot” is up and running, and I have some time to relax and unwind, which I really needed after the hectic seven weeks in San Francisco. I loved being there and seeing all my family and friends, but I am glad to have some time now to get my head together and to prepare for what happens next, after the tour ends in October. I expect I will be doing some sightseeing here in LA and some catching up with friends, but in more low-key fashion, for sure!

More on LA to come!

Making Stuff

Along with spending a lot of time on photography as of late, I’ve also been keeping up with knitting and have started on to a new hobby – sewing!

First up, a finished knitting project – “Ingenue”, by Wendy Bernard, from the book “Custom Knits”.

Ingenue, by Wendy Bernard

"Ingenue", by Wendy Bernard

This was a really enjoyable knit – it is a very easy and straightforward pattern, and I love the construction of the collar. You make it twice as long as your desired finished length, then fold it over and stitch it down inside the sweater. It creates a very sturdy collar that really keeps its shape. I love it. I used Brooks Farm Four Play – 3 skeins, purchased at Rhinebeck (only about 810 yards!). I was unsure about using a variegated yarn, but I love the end result and the drape of the yarn is gorgeous. It was lovely to knit with.

Project number two is a sewing project – my first real one after the pencil case I made a couple of weeks ago. As I have written before, I have been getting together on Thursday afternoons with one of our wardrobe supervisors, Roy, at the theater, and he has been teaching me and Suzanne (one of our hair supervisors) how to sew. For our first big project, Suzanne and I both made “The Everything Tote” from the book “Weekend Sewing” by Heather Ross. We definitely had a lot of instructional help from Roy, but all in all, the bag was not so hard to put together. I used some red canvas for the outside and a black and white cotton print for the lining (FYI – the book states you only need 1/2 a yard of fabric for the outer layer and 1/2 yard for the lining – not so – you actually need 1 yard of each).

Everything Tote, by Heather Ross

"Everything Tote", by Heather Ross

Next up on the sewing front is buying my own machine! In class I am working on an Amy Butler top, and for my birthday I treated myself to three skirt kits from Clothkits, so I’ll be putting those together. In knitting, I just had to rip an almost completely finished sweater (“Riding to Avalon” by Connie Chinchio) because I ran out of yarn, and there is no more to be had anywhere (it was Brooks Farm Solo Silk, purchased at Rhinebeck). I’ll use the yarn for something else. Right now I am working on a cotton top called “Empress Pullover” – a pattern from KnitPicks. I’ve had to completely rewrite the pattern to fit me, so we’ll see how it goes.

Here’s to a craft-filled summer!