I live in an artsy town - it seems to be a mecca for aspiring artists, photographers, musicians and craftspeople. Today one of the streets was roped off and they held an Arts and Crafts Festival- it was a lot of fun, and I got to take advantage of the photo opportunity.

'Twas a fun afternoon!

Table for Two

It all started with some morning emails. "Hey, nobody but you and me home for dinner tonight" I typed to my husband. He shot back with , "Steaks on the grill?" I quickly replied, "Yeah, can you pick them up after work?" And he sealed the deal with, "I'll do it up." My husband is a wonderful planner, and a fantastic cook. I knew with that last communication that I was in for a treat. But how much of a treat I didn't realize just yet.

I got home first, and trying to keep my hunger at bay watched some Oprah, then some Dr. Phil, all the while knowing he'd be home a little later than usual because he had to make a stop at the store to pick up the meat and maybe a little something to go with it. I could taste those juicy steaks now - yum! Pretty soon I heard his car in the driveway, and within moments he was in the kitchen with some grocery bags.

I could tell he had a plan. "Have something to keep you busy for a little while?" he asked.

Sensing that he had some very good plans up his sleeve, I quickly exited the kitchen and went into another room to make some phone calls and catch up on a few things. I was happy to let him unleash his wonderful creativity in preparing the evening meal!
In the midst of working on some papers, my cell phone rang beside me. I looked at the screen and it read, "Steve". My husband. And he was calling me from....where???????? Curious, I flipped open the phone and tentatively said, "Hello?"

"You can come on out to the garage now," was the reply. "Dinner's ready."

My anticipation was steadily building as I was starting to realize that possibly he had done a little more than just grill up two pieces of red meat on a flaming rack. Imagine my surprise when I approached the garage only to be greeted by my smiling husband opening the door for me, symphony music filling the room from the Bose speakers, and seeing tucked in the back corner a beautiful table for two done up with rustic table and chairs, fresh flowers and candlelight!

I think it was at this point that I started squealing. This was wonderful and so unexpected! He really surprised me. As I got closer to the table, I could see a beautiful plate of cheese and crackers, strawberries and grapes. This was no ordinary Thursday night dinner- this was my thoughtful husband knowing just what I like and making it so special for me. Outside the sliding glass door next to the table was the grill with two wonderful-smelling steaks sizzling away on it, along with zucchini cooked to perfection.

He was pleased. I was thrilled. Only he could take a corner of our soon-to-be-finished garage and make it look like something out of Country Living and top it off with a delectable menu. I quickly told him I needed to go get my camera and get some pictures of how fantastic it all looked! He finished up the steaks, I photographed in the ever-darkening light, and finally we sat down to a delicious, slow paced meal with background music and good, uninterrupted conversation.

After a wonderful dinner, we decided to sit on the sofa we had out there and just enjoy the green, woodsy view out the back window for a while as the sun was setting and the day was coming to an end. Eventually one of us would need to go pick up our son from youth group; eventually the dishes would have to be washed; eventually the dog would have to be let out. But none of that needed tending to right now, and we were just enjoying the relaxing time we had together. I loved him for making such a special, romantic and wonderful dinner for us to share. He loved that he got to really surprise me and show me a wonderful time. And we both agreed that maybe this empty nest thing staring us in the face isn't going to be so bad after all.

For the Love of Theater

Already today the wood stage floor is bare. The seats are folded up and sequestered under their protective cloth tarps. The set has been taken down, and the dressing room tables - which were full of makeup and jewelry and hairspray just last evening -have been cleared off entirely. The whole theater has a distinct quietness about it.
I know this because I was just there this afternoon - stopping in to pick up something that I'd left behind after last night's final performance. I say "final performance" as if it was a long running play - it ran, in fact, for only two nights; we had Opening Night, and then we had Closing Night. That's it; all done.
But ah, what a glorious two nights it was! To watch everyone and everything come together this past week was nothing short of wonderful. Rehearsals were enjoyed by all as we stayed and watched each other put on our one-act performances, cheered each other on and laughed at all the funny, funny moments delivered so well by some of the finest local talent around. Many sentiments of "Great job!" and "Break a leg!" were heard each weeknight as we came together in preparation for opening night on Friday. There was a definite excitement in the air.
Finally, Opening Night arrived. And what we once knew as just a rehearsal stage with empty seating became alive as the padded chairs started to fill with a real audience, and as we peformers heard how many minutes to showtime, all the while bustling behind the curtains backstage trying not to be seen by the paying guests.
8:00 came, and the stage was ours to transform. And transform we did. For two and a half hours on that one square wooden floor, the audience got to visit 4 different habitats. The main stage became a king's castle with its three-story princess tower; then a high rise New York City apartment, then an experiment room that kept three human subjects locked in, and finally a front porch to a halfway house (which, as one of the characters stated, was really halfway to nowhere).
I soaked it all up. I took it all in. It was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever been a part of. And I was amazed at what an audience and a little imagination can drum up. Laughter, entertainment, deep meaning and sheer wit make for a wonderful night where the outside world can be dimmed and quieted for a little while, and the only thing that matters is what's happening right in front of your very eyes.
We had Opening Night; then we had Closing Night. Just two performances. Show's over- everyone's gone home. But for those of us who were part of it, the memories will last a long time.
To anyone walking across that now-empty stage this afternoon, it would have looked like nothing more than just a polished wood floor with some chairs on either side. But not to me. I know better. I now know that it can be more; so much more. I guess that's the magic of theater.