“Blind Bag” Thorin Oakenshield

Mini Me had birthday money buring a hole in her pocket, so we were shopping today and look what she got:


A Thorin CHIBI

And just look at his gorgeous flowing locks!


I may need to bribe her with lip gloss to get my hands on him…she was watching like a hawk while I took his picture!



I wanted to take just a minute to thank the CCC (300) people who found something here that interested them enough to follow the blog.  I appreciate each and every person who has stopped by, and especially those who volunteered for more!   Have some celebration candy:


I promise that after I am done FREAKING OUT that my fall semester starts TOMORROW (!!!) there are some fun things on deck.  How could it be anything else when the frequent topic of discussion is this guy?

Richardus Arvinabarbus?

Richardus Arvinabarbus?

SpReAd the Love Challenge Four – Convoy of Hope

Keeping with the terms of SpReAd the Love Challenge Four, I’ve got one more fantastic aide organization to tell you about before time’s up.


and what better day to share it?!

Convoy of Hope is a humanitarian relief agency based in Springfield, Missouri.  They are involved both in the US and abroad in a variety of different types of humanitarian aid.  I first came into contact with them at one of their Community Events that was held locally a few years back.  Some friends of mine who are hairdressers were among hundreds of people who volunteered their services for the day to provide a “poverty free” day for local families in need.  The event was held at a local community college and was attended by thousands.

When I began researching a bit for this SpRead the Love challenge, specifically, where to donate the bottle water collected at MiniMe’s birthday party, I ran into Convoy of Hope again…I was saddened to find that the local event has not been held for the past two years for lack of a church to serve as an organizing agency…I’ve been planting a few seeds with some friends to see what we can do about getting an event set up for next summer.  With an eye toward convincing people to help undertake sponsoring this event, I began to do some research on Convoy of Hope, and it turns out that community outreach is really only the tip of the iceberg of what they do.

Convoy of Hope responds in Moore, Oklahoma 2013 Source

Convoy of Hope responds in Moore, Oklahoma 2013

Another major component of the relief provided by Convoy of Hope is their response to disasters.  Since 1998 their Disaster Services have provided food, water and emergency supplies to people all over the world, including the victims of the devastating tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri (2011) and Moore, Oklahoma (2013).  This past April,  they again sent trucks of relief supplies to tornado ravaged areas in  Arkansas and Kansas.  What has struck me is the emphasis that Convoy of Hope and many other agencies of this type,  put on the cooperation and assistance of local volunteers.  It really is a team effort to get the aid to people who desperately need it.

I don’t know that anyone can ever fully understand the importance that agencies like Convoy of Hope play in responding to people in crisis.  I truly hope no one reading this is ever in need of the services provided by a disaster relief agency, but that regardless, we each do what we can, whether through monetary donation or volunteer services to help them help others.


Happy Birthday Richard Armitage – It’s a HOT one!!

First, let me share my all time birthday song favorite:

Now then, on to the business of the day.  Armitageday that is.  I was going to talk about how the ancient Romans were among the first to celebrate the birthdays of the regular folk (of course only the regular male folk), but then I remembered that there are big things afoot on and around this day in Roman history.

The Romans were a thoroughly pagan, excessively polytheistic people for much of their history.  Their calendar was packed full of days that were sacred to one or another deity, days on which legal proceedings and economic transactions were suspended in favor of religious observance.  The month of Augustus (named after the 1st Emperor of Rome, the adopted son of Julius Caesar) was fairly typical, with festivals dedicated to various deities scattered throughout.

All work and no worship made for very pissy gods!

All work and no worship made for very pissy gods!

Among the most ancient and most important of the August festivals was the VULCANALIA…the festival dedicated to the god Vulcan.  Vulcan was the deity associated with fire…especially the destructive, devastating aspects of fire in the form of conflagration or volcanic eruption.  Fire was a profoundly important element to the ancients.  In a period before electricity, the presence of fire could mean the difference between life and death in both a positive and a negative sense.  Fire provided light and heat, but using it was an enormous potential hazard in cities built largely of timber frame structures.  The Romans believed that keeping Vulcan happy was the key to avoiding devastating fires.  The festival of Vulcan was celebrated in the hottest part of the summer, which was also harvest time, so prayers not only sought to protect the settlements, but also the fields and grain stores from Vulcan’s fire.  The Vulcanalia was celebrated by athletic competitions dedicated to the god and by building large bonfires onto which small animals were thrown as offerings.

The Romans also associated Vulcan with the destructive fire power of volcanoes.  Italy is littered with dozens of volcanoes…many of them dormant for thousands of years, but several of them, like Mt. Etna on Sicily regularly active.   Passages from Pliny the Elder’s Natural History illustrate that the Romans were quite familiar with the concept of volcanoes and other geothermal phenomena.  One volcano though, Mt. Vesuvius, near modern Naples was not mentioned by Pliny, suggesting that the Romans were completely unaware that this mountain, with it’s fertile slopes which produced some of the finest Roman vintages was only biding it’s time.   Apparently the Vulcanalia of 79AD didn’t do the trick, because the very next day…August 24th* Vulcan’s displeasure was evident when Vesuvius exploded, beginning a massive 25 hour eruption cycle.  This is the eruption that buried the now famous towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, along with a large part of the Bay of Naples area under a thick layer of ash and pyroclastic flow.


The devastation wrought by what many Romans interpreted as an unhappy Vulcan was enormous.  In an attempt to placate the god, the Emperor Domitian ordered the construction of a new altar to Vulcan in Rome and upped the ante on sacrifices from fish and small animals to a red calf and a red boar – nobody was messing around with Vulcan.

Soooo, since the day is conveniently blank on the Roman festival calendar, in honor of the Birthday Boy with the trademark incendiary smolder, and The Crucible which is “too hot to handle,” I hereby deem August 22 as ARMITAGALIA….any objections from the ancient Romans in the crowd?????


No?  Excellent!!  It’s official then!!!  ARMITAGALIA it is.  Now, what to do in celebration?

Finally!  A good use for those leftover marshmallow PEEPS!!

Finally! A good use for those leftover marshmallow PEEPS!!


PS…I’ll be offering up extra pink bunny PEEPS to stave off the Iceland volcano for all those flying to London to see The Crucible….can’t hurt right?!

“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

It’s true, and not in a completely destroyed,heading off to an asylum, Blanche DuBois fashion.  (This of course is the iconic final line spoken by Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.)

No, I mean it in a completely literal sense.  Yesterday I was driving home when the battery light came on in my mommy-van.  Not good.  I hoped that I could nurse it to the side of the road, but as Murphy’s Law would have it, I was in the left turn lane and the engined stalled in the middle of the intersection.  Momentum carried me 3/4 of the way through, but she was definitely going to require some pushing to get out of the middle of the street and to the curb.  Crud!  Dropping it into neutral, I climbed out, pushing with one hand and steering with the other.  Mommy-vans are great for hauling kids and gear, but they are a b!$#h to get moving from a dead stop.


Fortunately, I didn’t have to do it alone since two separate gentlemen pulled over and jumped out to help me.  Before I could even thank them properly, they had returned to their cars and gone about their business, as if to say, “It was no trouble, happy to help.”



It’s just this kind of unexpected kindness that SpReAd the Love is looking to foster and multiply.  I could have pushed it myself, but my day was made a bit easier by two complete strangers who stopped what they were doing to help me.  (And also by my neighbor who came to fetch me when I needed a ride home.).  Kindness is out there, but if you can’t find it, just do it – you’ll be amazed how it comes back to you!  😉

Get your motor runnin’ Richard Armitage

By far my most favorite question asked of Richard Armitage at the Into the Storm Premiere was Abby’s question about what American muscle car he would choose for a day of open road with no speed limits…



It warmed the little gearhead corner of my heart to hear him immediately pop off a response.  The Mustang is a solid choice, perhaps the most dependable and iconic of the pack…the 2015 model marks the advent of sixth style generation in the Mustang’s fifty year history with Ford.   One of my favorite pictures of my parents shows them leaving for their honeymoon in a 1965 Mustang convertible that looked a lot like this one…

I wonder whatever happened to that car...I'm pretty sure it was a loaner so they could ride in newlywed style.

I wonder whatever happened to that car…I’m pretty sure it was a loaner so they could ride in newlywed style.

It’s a sweet ride for sure, and the new models boast some pretty impressive specs, but I think Mr. Armitage might have been a tiny bit hasty.  Maybe a few more test drives are called for, because despite all Mustang’s merits, Ford ain’t the only name in Detroit muscle baby!  I have a few favorites to submit for consideration.

Don’t let all of the classical tradition chatter fool you.  Before I left home for Latin and libraries, I was a Midwestern girl who grew up in hearing distance of a race track that ran modified street stocks on Thursdays and drags on Saturdays.  The sound of a V8 never ceases to give me a little tingle.  I suppose that I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw something that looked a lot like this in my parents’ driveway on prom night.

My senior prom was in 1986 BTW

My senior prom was in 1986 BTW

It was a 1972 Chevy Nova.  Where it wasn’t covered in grey paint primer, it was olive green.  I was none too happy to learn from my date that my formal gown and I would need to crawl over from the driver’s side since the passenger door was still welded shut from its recent racing days.  Finally situated, miraculously without ripping anything or snaring my big 80’s hair, I was silently grumbling and wondering what I had seen in the 6’4″ golden boy who had picked me up for prom in this heap of s#%t.  Then he started the engine.   Rrrrrrrr.  I would say it purred, but like lions, 350 horsepower V8 engines do not purr, they rumble.  It’s a rumble that you not only hear, you feel.  I felt it under my toes, where they sat on the quivering floorboards, and all the way up to my newly tingling tummy.  Date took one look at me and nodded sagely, “She’s a 350,” before he took his foot off the brake and respectfully did *not* shoot driveway gravel all over my increasingly concerned looking parents.  Nope, he was a smart date and waited until we were about a half mile away before he showed me that 350 V8’s not only rumble like lions…they roar like them too!  (Incidentally, that moment turned out to be the best of the night – prom is so over rated!).

Looking back, I realize that Date’s Nova was a tangible expression of a fondness for auto muscle that had been planted in my impressionable youth by a 1969 Dodge Charger.  Maybe you’ve seen it somewhere before?

That's the one...

That’s the one…

The General Lee.  The 69 Charger Bo (John Schneider) and Luke (Tom Wopat) Duke raced around Hazzard County Georgia evading the long (inept) arm of the local law on the CBS series The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985).   Now, I suppose it could be argued that I was more taken with the drivers than I was with the car…and in that, I was far from alone I’m sure.  So says a recent Auto Trader ad campaign aimed clearly at me and my ilk:

However,  a brief consultation with my in house gearhead advisor, a chat peppered with talk of “383 Magnums, 426 hemis and fastbacks..no wait, that’s after ’71…,” resulted in his agreement that while the Mustang is solid, the Charger, then and now, is the more muscular muscle car.

Chevy doesn't make the Nova anymore, so I threw in a Camaro for good measure.

Chevy doesn’t make the Nova anymore, so I threw in a Camaro for good measure.

It kind of makes me wonder how much of muscle car Richard Armitage we might have seen had Paul Walker not died so tragically.

Get out on the highway,

but drive safely Armitageworld!

“Seek shelter immediately…”

In April of 2011, these words were broadcast on every television and radio station in the local area.  They are familiar to anyone who lives in an area prone to tornadoes, and they were not unexpected on that day.  As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum before, I was born and raised in Wisconsin…tornadoes are a regular occurrence here as in other parts of the American Midwest.  We had been watching the weather…the sky had taken on the sort of sinister green cast that I always associate with the potential for funnel clouds, and when the sirens went off, indicating that a funnel cloud had been sighted in our area, I gathered up my chicks and headed to for the basement.  It’s the basic drill….most of the time, it’s just a precaution, but this time it was real.  On that April night we did have some wild weather and the town that I live in sustained a fair amount of damage (and this from what was finally classified as an F1 storm…that is, a weak one)



Thanks to early detection, the time of day the storm hit and the presence of adequate shelter, there were no fatalities.  Multiple agencies assembled to assist in the clean up efforts.  When all was said and done, we were pretty lucky.   This was not a terribly powerful storm as such storms go, and the infrastructure for recovery was not significantly impacted.  This is not always the case.  Even in the US, disasters like the Joplin, MO tornado or “Superstorm Sandy” can wreak enormous havoc.  The assistance and coordination of disaster relief agencies is critical.

As you know from Jazzbaby, our latest SpReAD the Love challenge is directed at raising awareness and support for the amazing work these agencies do, by blogging about a personal connection we have with one of them.   Although I have thankfully never needed their services, I have an almost life long history with Church World Service via my church.  CWS is a multi-denominational organization that was founded in 1946 to aid in recovery efforts in Europe following World War II.  It gradually grew and expanded to the global assistance agency that it is today.  I think probably my first exposure to CWS was via the annual CROP Walk for global hunger relief.  More recently, I’ve become more familiar with their worldwide efforts at developing sustainable water resources .

Although they have expanded their reach tremendously, CWS remains an active agent in disaster relief efforts in the US and around the world both in terms of supplying immediate assistance in the form of needed supplies  and emergency blankets and in terms of coordination of long term recovery resources.  It has only been in the past few years (years that my own family has often seen times of financial hardship) that I’ve realized how something that seems so small…a kit with a bar of soap, a comb, nail clippers, or a $5 blanket… can make a HUGE difference to a person who has literally just lost EVERYTHING.


Being able to help in this way gives me a lighter heart every time, so I am currently on a team coordinating both the supply kit drive and the blanket drive at my church.  I am also proud to report that the tradition of joyful giving that my mother instilled in me seems to have taken firm root in my daughter.  Her birthday is coming up on August 24th (I know!!  The anniversary of the 79AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius!!) and in lieu of gifts for her, she has requested that her guests bring either a case of bottled water or a hygiene supply kit to be donated to disaster relief.   I think she’s got the SpReAd the Love bug!



inter alia…A Whirlwind Evening with Obscura

Hello again!  It’s been a crazy couple of days in Armitageworld, and I’ve been sidelined for much of it.  As you may have heard, Servetus and I had a bit of an adventure Sunday evening.    It all started out well enough…we met up at a local place that has great chicken wings and (used to have) great onion rings.  A charmingly tattooed bartender who was sucking up nicely, good company, a cold, if kind of pedestrian, seasonal brew from a favorite Wisconsin craft brewery – good times.  We had been chatting about this and that while we waited for the food to show up…I was laughing at the tavern’s method of alerting servers that food was up…namely bellowing said server’s name from the kitchen – classy!  Once our food arrived, I had eaten exactly three chicken wings when out of nowhere I noticed that although I wasn’t moving, the room seemed to be.  Hmm, that’s a bit odd I thought, closing my eyes with the thought that when I opened them, the room would be stationary again.  Not so much.  Then I started to perspire…not delicate lady like perspiring either…

John Porter (Richard Armitage)  Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com

John Porter (Richard Armitage)
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com

No, it was more like a John Porter digging a mass grave in the Zimbabwean sun kind of sweating.  We kind of laughed about it because I had only just said that I like spicy food, but not so spicy that it makes me sweat.  Still dripping sweat, the room still slowly spinning, and me feeling increasingly ill, we eventually decided first that Servetus would drive me home, and then, maybe it would be better to go to the hospital.  I lurched out of the tavern…listing to starboard as I made my way to Servetus’ car.  Once inside, the cool blast from the A/C felt heavenly as we briefly discussed which hospital to go to.  I have a preferred one, but as the motion of the car combined with the motion in my head, it rapidly became clear that I might not make it that far.  We were about to get on the freeway…one peppered with bridges and overpasses…that is, no place to pull over for increasingly green around the gills passenger.  Despite feeling absolutely wretched, I had to laugh when Servetus handed me an empty paper coffee cup that she found, because I couldn’t help but think of that scene from Wayne’s World where Garth (Dana Carvey) holds out a Dixie cup and says to their extremely drunk friend:



Ultimately, I decided there was no way I was making it to the other hospital, so we went to the closest one and Servetus dropped me at the door of the ER while she went to park the car.  She made it in to join me before I was even able to register since the place was packed (one wonders what the heck goes on on summer Sundays that so many people are in the ER!)  I was holding myself up against the wall, fighting the urge to retch when Servetus asked if I wanted to sit since there was an empty wheelchair, but no available seats.  I declined until a man sitting with his adult daughter said, “You’d better sit, you look like you’re going to faint.”  OK then, I’ll sit.  (This kind of friendly advice from complete strangers is completely ordinary here.)  

It seemed like it took forever for the elderly woman in front of me to finish up with the clerk – it was probably only minutes, but I was working pretty hard not to make a complete spectacle by doing my imitation of Linda Blair in The Exorcist right there in the waiting room.  As it turned out…I only made a partial spectacle of myself since I held out through registration and until I had a basin before I did my Linda Blair impression.  I find that spewing in the waiting area generally fast tracks one to triage. (as does hyperventilating and snorting liquid acetaminophen out one’s nose, but that’s a story for another day.)   

After a quick EKG and a longish trip to a distant bathroom, with Servetus at the helm of the wheelchair,  before my one woman sideshow became even more humiliating, I was finally taken back to a room.  In the interim, Serv managed to get a hold of my husband, tell him the situtation, ask him to bring a change of clothes (since diaphoresis results in soaking wet shorts), and talk to a nurse who brought me a stylish hospital gown to wear for my stay.  I don’t remember a whole lot of what went on in the exam room before my husband got there…probably a whole lot of me laying on the bed in abject relief to just be horizontal since that position seemed to alleviate the spinning and overwhelming nausea.  One thing I do remember is a very nice nurse…from Alabama…who started the IV in my arm.  I mentioned that I had kind of difficult veins, but she found one with no problem and slipped the line in almost painlessly – no matter, the result is always the same with me:

One blown vein for each needle stick.  I suppose I should wear sleeves for awhile...

One blown vein for each needle stick. I suppose I should wear sleeves for awhile…

Servetus kindly hung around until my husband arrived and even though I was completely terrible company, I really appreciated her calm and collected presence…my husband, by contrast, is a pacer.

As to the diagnosis:

From my RL Facebook feed...

From my RL Facebook feed…

Nothing terribly serious.  It’s mostly passed already, but I’m totally bummed that I won’t be able to make it to Chicago for Operation Into the Storm this weekend!  I’m really hoping I can make it through the movie at all…what with all the spinning that’s been going on in my head!  We’ve heard a lot recently about the real and deep friendships that have developed between many of us who met via our shared fandom of Richard Armitage.  I can’t agree enough with this sentiment.  It is a true friend who swabs the sweat off your brow while you retch up your dinner into a cotton candy pink plastic bucket!!

Now that I’m on the mend, I’ll fill you in on the latest installment of the Life of a Stage Mom, my personal experience with disaster relief for SpReAd the Love, and plenty of continued blathering about the Classical tradition and this guy: