Thursday, June 28, 2018

Alaska or bust. I hope we don't bust.

I took Lucien to see Les Miserables his first week of summer vacation. It was my 10th time seeing the show. I'd see it again tomorrow if I could. I will never stop.

I remember my parents returning home after they first saw it in the 1980s. They raved about it, and brought home a souvenir, a Les Miz documentary called "Stage by Stage." I didn't go with them that first time but I watched the first few moments of that video and I was hooked. I was obsessed. I remember a warm feeling coursing through my body and a sense of "I now know what love feels like." Don't you dare tell me a musical can't love me back because I know it does.

I was very happy to share my favorite story with my son date.

The Loosh asked about twenty minutes before we left for the theatre, "Mom, what's the story about?" and I said, "Oh! It's a super short story written by Victor Hugo about love, redemption, compassion, rebellion, you can read it quickly before we leave!" He nodded enthusiastically and I threw my dogeared copy of the nearly 1,500-page novel at him. He looked so shocked.


This was my least favorite production I've seen of Les Miz. It's become something of a soap opera up there, with most actors throwing themselves all over the place in melodramatic fashion. They were being VERY SERIOUS actors but honestly, the story speaks for itself, you don't gotta sell it so hard.

The staging has changed, too. The sets used to be minimal and understated, which added to the charm of the thing. There was a revolving stage, so when people walked somewhere "far," they really walked in the same place as the stage rotated and props passed them by. Now there is no more rotation. When Jean Valjean gets Cosette at the well and takes her off for a better life, they just kind of wander all over the stage in lazy S shapes. What the hell are you guys doing up there?

One of the most effective scenes in the musical used to utilize the rotating stage to perfection. When Enjolras is killed at the barricade and falls off the front, the barricade later turns to show him laying upside down on top of the giant red rebel flag as music swells. That scene is gone without the revolving part; now they just kind of wheel a dead Enjolras across the stage in a cart. He's still with his big red flag but... what? Where's my big crying moment? It's gone, as gone as Enjolras.

I'm not done complaining yet! Another point of contention: Marius sings "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" while limping around in the darkness instead of sitting at the bar with all the chairs and tables he's singing about. How can you sing about empty chairs at empty tables when there are zero dang chairs and zero dang tables? Sit down in the damn bar and mourn your dead friends properly, Marius.

Don't even get me started on how audiences have changed. I swear half the audience was late so had to be seated at the first scene break, about fifteen minutes after the show began. Then there were just streams of people walking in carrying wine cups, and chatting, and blocking our view entirely for the next ten minutes of the show. Lucien didn't even get to see Fantine become a prostitute properly.

I'll distract myself from my crabby old lady Les Miz mutterings by showing before and nearly-after pictures of our master bathroom project. It's still not 100% finished but I sure like looking at it. It brings a little circa-1900 character to the space at last, and is even better than I'd envisioned.

we had no bathroom.

Almost After:
we very nearly have a gorgeous bathroom.

So gorgeous, we have decided to do all our entertaining from now on
in our bathroom. 

With the bathroom project nearly finished, our six years of Banister Abbey renovations are almost kinda complete. There is still a long list of small things to do but this, aside from the landscaping, which we hope to get to someday, is our last major undertaking in bringing this pretty old dame of a house back to life. Banister Abbey has been a labor of love. There is so much love. But as is involved in most labors, there has also been a shit ton of pain.

Summer is going well. There have been many water gun fights and buckets of water dumped on each other on the hot days --

And lemonade stands --

brilliant idea to offer the lemonade for free
but "except" donations.
They made a killing.

And kids running wild in the streets of Seattle --

And my beautiful sister, who is showcasing her art in her very first solo show in West Seattle. Her talent is astounding and I'm so happy she's getting the recognition she deserves.

That's Coco in front of "her" painting with Cecil the lion.

And finally, a fun event at the grocery store. Coco came with me to load up on the essentials for our big road trip. In the checkout lane, Coco loudly announced to the checker, "My mom and dad have a drinking problem." And I froze, and the checker froze, and we looked at each other, then both looked down at the items I was buying. There wasn't even any alcohol. So.... what's happening right now.

I said, "Umm, what?" and Coco said, throwing her arms into the air in exasperation, "You guys drink, like, twelve bubbly waters A DAY." True enough, I had five cases of La Croix on the belt and they're not likely to last a week. I've never loved a beverage so much in my life. It has actually replaced coffee as my morning drink of choice, it's that serious of a relationship.

Then the checker laughed and I laughed and the checker said, "Oooh boy, it got real awkward there for a second." Yes, yes it did. Coco can't come to the grocery store with me anymore.

I gotta go, it's crunch time, we're leaving for Alaska in t-minus not many hours. We'll be gone a long time, just shy of a month. Imagine the insanely long posts I'm going to write when I return! I'm really gonna write this trip into the ground, I can feel it.

Our journey to the Great North involves a stop in Watson Lake, in the Yukon. Watson Lake is known for its "Sign Post Forest," a labyrinth of almost 80,000 signs brought from the hometowns of people making the trek up the Alaska Highway. We have our sign ready. We will leave our mark at Watson Lake, as nearly 80,000 people have apparently done before us.

I hope it's the best road trip of our lives,
and I hope they put Les Miz back the way it used to be.


  1. I am flabbergasted at how talented your sister is. Did your family just suck up all the good, funny and talented genes and leave crumbs for the rest of us?

    Gruntled feelings aside, have a safe trip to Alaska! I never comment anymore but I read faithfully and can’t wait to hear all about your shenanigans. ❤️

  2. Thank you, Kiki. I took a screen shot of your comment and sent it to my sister. She said it made her day. So thank you again. Alaska, onward!

  3. You should consider performing a practice tire change on that beast, just to ensure you can should the need arise.