May 2008


jeffrey carlson as hamlet

Jeffrey Carlson, I apologize.

Last year when I saw you in The Shakespeare Theatre’s production of Hamlet, I was not a fan. I know you were trying to convey Hamlet’s youth. But the flailing and whining was a bit much for me. Sure, Hamlet is young. I get it. But he also has some of the most profound, eloquent speeches in the English language. I just couldn’t see him as a petulant teenager. It was too, too silly-ed flesh.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. I saw your Hamlet again last night in the park, and I was blown away. It was beautiful. I laughed. I cried. The words were alive! O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! I am sorry I ever disliked your Hamlet. And I am sorry I will not be in town this weekend, so I cannot go see you again.

It’s a tough job, Hamlet. Everyone comes in with their own expectations for how you should play the role. And you risk standing in the shadow of other Hamlets. For me, the shadow was cast by my man Wallace Acton, who played Hamlet so beautifully at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2001. I went to see the play … oh, I think seven times? (I ushered, so it was free.)

What made your Hamlet so much more enjoyable the second time? Reduced expectations and the putting aside of the heavy shadow of my previous Wally Hamlet may have helped. There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Maybe it was the magical setting of Carter Barron amphitheatre. Perhaps Teen Hamlet, Prince of Angst, has mellowed out a bit in the past year.

I am not sure what the difference was, but I loved your Hamlet last night. Loved it. I am a fan now. Please forgive me.

The Shakespeare Theatre Free for All continues tonight, tomorrow and Sunday in Carter Barron ampitheatre. Check here for information on how to get free tickets. If they free out, I think you can almost always get tickets at the gate; people don’t always show up.

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When your husband is out of the country for 10 days, it is an excellent time to do things you would not otherwise do were he in town. This will help stave off the distress of his absence.

For instance, you might watch “Sex in the City” for the first time. You might eat cereal or salad for dinner. You might buy a new purse, even though the hall closet is exploding with all your other purses.

It is a good time to schedule dates with girlfriends, finish work projects that can never seem to get done and have some time for at-home solitude.

It is not advisable that you choose this period of time to accept a free tree from a neighbor, and endeavor — by yourself — to dig a humongous hole in the ground in which to put it … all the while mourning the flower seeds you had just planted the day before (by yourself, even) receiving the message about the free tree.

Neither would this be the ideal time to discover and deal with the small rock quarry in the plot of ground where you thought you’d put the tree. It is unadvisable to kill your back shoveling, especially when there is no one to rub it.

And then you still have to actually dig out the free tree you are taking? Are you kidding me? This is a time for a manicure with friends, *not* for covering your hands with blisters.

If you, like me, have already accepted the tree and spent several hours digging the hole, best to go through with the rest of the project before it rains and your gaping hole is literally washed away in vain.

But if you have a choice in this matter, I recommend you put down the shovel. Pour yourself a glass of white wine. Wait for your helpmate.

Just a tip.

I love my neighbors.

I emailed two of them — Jane and B — this afternoon to ask if I could borrow a large shovel. B said he does not have a large shovel; he had previously borrowed Jane’s. Jane was not available on email.

Then B sends another update. He found Jane’s shovel. He stole it. I should knock on his door.

seersucker purse

I have made several trips to our neighborhood Target. And I have yet to leave the store without some unexpected purchase. There are just so many cute things! And useful things! And such good deals! The Target people are smart too. You walk in the store and what is there, staring you right in your face? Purses, bags, jewelry and other accessories. Next up: women’s clothing. And at the checkout lines: bargain bins.

Oh Target, you know my weaknesses.

My first trip to Target, I just went to “look around” and had barely taken 20 steps before my arms were loaded with merchandise. The second trip I was in search of cereal, and picked up some Easter and baby gifts on the way.

I decided it was a little too dangerous to proceed in this manner, since the Target is within walking distance. I have instituted a new limit : only one (or two) impulse buys per visit.

On Monday, I went to Target to buy some gardening reinforcements*. I left Target carrying a large bag of soil on my head, Rwanda style, while also toting a new seersucker purse and pair of sunglasses, American consumer style.

*I did attempt to purchase said items at my local non-chain hardware store, but they were closed. So I went first to Target, then to Home Depot, making it a Big Box afternoon … but a DC big box afternoon, so there.

For me, it really did not feel like summer was near before this weekend, and only in part because of the unseasonably cool weather. I have no real *plans* for the summer, so there is little to distinguish it from the rest of the year for me. Well, there may be some things … but I am in denial about the ever-steadily approaching date when my godson and his dear parents move to another time zone, for instance. (Don’t go!) Plus, work has been stressful, and all time was lost in the farm bill vortex.

So, I have seriously been in a sort of never-ending March.

But the beginning of summer hit me in a rush this weekend. I know it is here now. And this is how I know:

1) I spent almost the entire weekend either in the community garden, our “yard,” or the garden store. Ok, so that could be spring, rather than summer. But there were no pansies to be found, so summer.

2) I sat on the lawn at Wolftrap Saturday evening, my favorite summer activity.

3) While there, I saw the live broadcast of Prairie Home Companion, my favorite radio show. Garrison Keillor led us in singing “Summertime (and the livin’ is easy) ,” and patriotic songs. (Summer is a patriotic time in DC.) An aside: PHC comes to Wolftrap every Memorial Day and I have gone five of the last seven years. Every year I am surprised to discover that I am the only one who knows the second verse of “Summertime” and various patriotic songs. Is this that strange?

4) I wore seersucker on Sunday and felt proud.

5) The weather. It’s like Mother Nature got the pool party invite and decided to kick it up a notch. I was wearing a sweater on Thursday. Today I was sweating in capris and a T-shirt.

6) I went to a wonderful cookout at a friend’s house and we enjoyed beer and grilled items… and were not at all cold.

7) As I walked to the friend’s house, I passed two guys, sitting on a stoop, drinking from coconuts. Hello?! They had straws in the coconuts and were drinking from them. Are we at a tropical island resort? The answer is yes! Welcome to the Heights!

8 I talked with about a dozen neighbors this weekend. It seems we all hibernate during winter, then in summer suddenly everyone is out digging in the dirt, sitting on the stoops, having parties, talking to one another. (OK, so last summer was first marked by people shooting eachother, then all the friendly stuff… but happily we seem to have skipped straight to the fraternization this year.)

9) I made rhubarb lemonade. And drank the whole thing.

10) Delicious rhubarb pie, made by my pie-baker extraordinaire husband.

SUMMER!

UPDATE: Hey, guys! I found the missing title of the farm bill! Err, sorry. It was in my bathroom the whole time. Argh! Please call the ag guys and President Bush and tell them I’m sorry. I’ll bring it back tomorrow.

OK, at some point my life, and thus this blog, will no longer be about the farm bill. But for now, this is what I do.

And today was the sort of farm bill day I’ve got to share.

President Bush vetoed the farm bill Wednesday, and the House voted overwhelmingly to override it. This is what we thought would happen. We thought the Senate would vote Thursday, override then BAM! the farm bill would be law. End of long, drawn-out story, already.

But wait — there was a glitch. A big one. And now they have to DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN.

Dear Lord, help us.

It turns out the “farm bill” the House sent to the President on Tuesday was missing a section. Oops. The printed version did not include one of the 14 titles, title three. It was the trade title, and was heretofore uncontroversial … until it was missing. Democrats say it was an honest mistake — oops, we lost part of the farm bill on accident. We meant to send it all — just a weird printing error. But “accidents” are not looked upon so lightly in the world of law. Some Republicans are calling it a violation of a little something they call “The Constitution.”

To clear things up, they are going to do the whole thing over again. Which means that the never-ending Groundhog Day cycles of the farm bill will continue. They’ll pass it again Thursday. They’ll send it again to the President and this time they will check to make sure ALL THE PAGES ARE THERE. Bush will have to veto it again, and then Congress will have to try to override the veto AGAIN.

I think some people may find this turn of events a bit shocking. But for those of us who have covered the long slog of back and forth on the farm bill, it comes as no surprise. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangell said last week he has attended more funerals for the farm bill than anything else. Just add this one to the list.

One of the reporters said “pinch me” when it looked like it was actually about to end. Looks like he was dreaming. The farm bill continues.

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