28 September, 2006

Corner, Spotlight

...oh, life is bigger/ It's bigger than you/ And you are not me/ The lengths that I will go to/ The distance in your eyes/ Oh no, I've said too much....

He slinks down the stairs and opens his arms for a cuddle.

Morning, Fluffy.

"Morning, Mama. Did Hilby come last night?"

Yes, he did. And guess what he brought?

"Another person?"


Hilby arrives with, as is his wont, an additional human. Three of them, actually. Last weekend, it was Karl, who was a surprise, but this weekend it’s Karl’s girlfriend, Hilby’s girlfriend, and- hooray!- Martin. Yes, fans, Lurk haunts the site of the Maryland Renaissance Festival again.

The forecast is much more dire than the actual weather. On Saturday, more than 20,000 patrons are undiscouraged. Sunday somewhat less so, but apparantly it was pouring in northern Anne Arundel county, so there you go. It’s not about whether it will rain, it’s about whether the patrons THINK it will rain. Makes bribing the forecasters an appealing idea.

Saturday is gorgeous, perfect, breezy enough that the white costumes flow and billow. A film crew loves us. We’re not sure who they are or why they’re here. That Girl, who would know, suspects a college project. A couple, armed with serious cameras, follows us around.

"They’re the best thing in this whole place."

No. Really? How nice of you. Shoot us anytime.

It’s Adventure Weekend, and pirates abound. The Bee Folks encourage patrons to holler Arrrgh and throw cheap plastic necklaces from their balcony. Note to self: check out their new fragrance; they promised in Pennsylvania that they were debuting a new hand cream fragrance in Maryland.

Jaki, our organist, accepts hugs, and refuses questions about her health. Will I lose her next? I hate to wonder, but life is short, and those who grace it do not always grace it for long.

Isabelle Glass, whose products have moved me to drool since Artscape 05, is here as a guest vendor. Mimi and Gigi lust after fancy silver and glass necklaces. Hawk gives permission for obscene expenditure, which (booyah!) is write-offable. We walk away adorned and shiny.

Though we break the 2K mark, the lines are amazingly short. Even at the privies. The longest line? The ATM. Go, you lovely patrons. Buy stuff. Booyah.

After work, after snack, after Fluff loses track of a wooden mug that I found one year in PA and lovingly restored, Fuzzy and I get our hair braided. Four days later, we both are are still looking pretty good. Good job, Rapunzelgirls. Fuzzy still has her silk roses, even.

As planned, we eat Vietnamese with the Jasters. Fluff is adventurous and not only chooses an unfamiliar dish, he asks for it in Vietnamese. The restauranteur, taking our order, is impressed. Fuzzy wants chicken and broccoli. I eat stir-fried vegatables, which, oddly, come out the same no matter which -ese I try.

At home, I kiss my children goodnight....and goodbye, because they are rapidly becoming not my children anymore, but their own human selves apart from me, who happen to live in the same house.

I will kiss them goodbye a thousand more times, and they will never know it. I mourn the passing of their child-ness, even as I celebrate their steps to maturity. Some of you will know what I mean.

Hurry to the Faire: it's half over. Four weekends left. The weather is here, and you are beautiful. Come see Mimi.

(Losing My Religion; REM)

22 September, 2006

Wild Life

...You got the lips that I’m mad about/ I got the lips that’ll knock you out/ C’mon wild one, be wild about me....

The Questing Sniff slips his leash to chase a neighborhood cat. It's a bold cat, and needed chasing. I had no idea the dog could slide from his collar at will. It's a trick he's been saving for An Occasion.

A tiny lizard, a skink, (I think!) plays on the cobbled apron of the Root Beer Float booth. It is striped and brownish, except for the tail, which is a startling neon blue, as though the skink had purchased it afterwards, for vanity. An upgrade. The lizard version of a boob job.

Mime Camp (extra posh this year: saucer chairs and carpet and a large plastic tote for a coffee table) has been adopted by a toad, presumably the Common American Toad, though he looks more like the Fowler's toad. There is some hybridizing between the two, which might account for his appearance. I say "his" though I have no way of determining the gender of this specimen. He seems undisturbed by our humanity and hops contentedly near our feet, hiding under our chairs with his backside tucked under the edge of our rug. Why a toad's butt should be colder than the rest of itself is beyond me. Just another herptological mystery.

Two striped spiders build webs near our home every night. Every morning, the webs are gone. One hangs on the corner formed by our porch roof and its endmost support. The other attaches to the crepe myrtle bush at the bottom, and to the night sky at the top. I was so surprised and thrilled to see this web stretch to infinity that I had to work most dilligently to not be disappointed when I at last spotted the spider spinning down from an overstretched electrical wire.

(Wild One; Bobby Rydell)

20 September, 2006

Not Yet!

...If I had a day that I could give you/ I'd give to you a day just like today....

My trousers reach mid-calf, my tee-shirt, my elbows. A slice of skin shows between waistbandless hipslung knit trousers that have seen better days and a vee-neck pullover in similar condition. My navel, however, is covered. The air is turning, is littered with rattling leaves that tattle the tale "summer is over, summer is over, put on your clothes."

The sun is bright, not fierce. The breeze is somewhat more aggressive than gentle. It is nothing short of gorgeous- but I can feel death in the air.

My toes are yet bare, though, and I ride topless today, defiantly clinging to warm rays with hot pink toenails.

(Sunshine On My Shoulders; John Denver)

18 September, 2006

Day's Remains

...the love you take/ is equal to the love you make....


baby powder
powder puffs
"duck" tape
Joy (TM)
baby wipes
battery-operated clock


sew fabbo new costumes
alter new pink cloak
make bubble juice
obtain more white socks
clean for houseguests
research toad species


Rain ruins the grounds and discourages the patrons.


2 pair tights
1 unitard
2 wooden spoons
3 hats
7 napkins
1 tablecloth
3 1/2 pair socks
4 wooden bowls
1 gold camisoile
1 long-sleeved white cardigan
3 wooden mugs
4 pair gloves
3 gauze shirts
1 pewter mug
2 tee-shirts
1 brocade jacket
5 empty plastic water bottles
1 white lace brassiere


To dine at a Vietnamese restaurant on Sunday after picking up paycheck, with friends doing same.


1 ziplok bag cubed cheese
1 block jarlesburg
1 bag macintosh apples, unopened
5 loose apples
2 nectarines
1 white peach
3 bunches slightly wilted grapes
12 slices of summer squash, green and yellow
4 bottles of water, 2 still frozen


Three hours on stilts after ten yoga-free days. Ouch.

We, the silent, entertain the blind.

No kidding; there is a group of people with long white canes. An elderly man peers through rhuemy eyes and declares, "It's a stiltwalker!" His young compainion sticks his hand out, in the wrong place, of course. We move to accommodate. A woman says "Don't step on me!' and pulls her cane close, as though to ward us off.

Justin stands still. He's just enjoying the sun, he says. I so rarely see him standing still. He's a powerful, watchful presence even at rest.

She commandeers me, bends my will to her plan, and thrusts a white box into my hands. "She'll know something's up if she sees me come back this way," she says, referring to her daughter. She tells me to go to the backstage door of the venue the child's father performs even now. I allow my eyebrows to express doubt. "It's okay- they're all in on it." I go, and open the door. "What are you doing here?!" exclaims a man I'm not sure realizes I quit speaking to him about a year ago. I gesture with the box. "Oh." He takes it, sets it down somewhere "safe". I close the door quietly and leave.

I, for one reason and another, find myself alone from time to time. I enjoy this as a guilty pleasure. Saturday, I was on my own, making bubbles at the Front Gate for guests exiting the Faire. Sunday, I soloed on stilts. I don't mind sharing my space, my bits, my shtick, my props. But sometimes, yes, sometimes, it is nice to reclaim it as just mine.

It is not raining, but nearly. The gloom hangs like fog over the village. It is our job, by virtue of our white and gold gorgeousness, to alleviate this. We process, toning gently. The lumpy Tibetan bell is low-voiced and slightly melancholy, like cowbell, like foghorn, like TS Eliot. The brass and wooden windchimes ring a faintly cheerful tinkle. She is turned away, speaking. He spots us, and, wordless, pats rapidly on her arm for her attention. She closes her mouth, turns to him with an irritated expression, spots us and relaxes into astonishment. The entire group stands silent as we pass, pleasure spreading their mouths and streaming from their eyes.

Thank you. That was the reaction I wanted.

(The End; The Beatles)

10 September, 2006

Ahem. Hello?

...I am not interested in poetry/ Poetry's another word for love....

I was Featured Poet at the Pour House Cafe last night.

I didn't mind rushing to leave the faire, since I hadn't had the best day, and it had started to rain anyway.

I didn't mind racing through laundry and a shower because I can be quick.

I didn't mind driving thirty-five miles, since I had good directions, traffic was light, and I found rock star parking in front of the venue.

I didn't mind that no one showed up for the poetry reading but me and the organizer, because these things happen sometimes and I got paid anyway, plus free food and coffee.

But when the organizer insisted that I use the mike to read my poems to nobody but her, that was when the evening became Officially Pretty Damn Stupid.

(I Am Not Interested In Love; Two Gentlemen of Verona; MacDermot & Guare)

08 September, 2006

Physically Here.....

....We were at the beach/ Everybody had matching towels....

Well, when she's ready to sell, let us know. We've been wanting a place at the beach.

"You mean YOU've been wanting a place at the beach, don't you?"

No, Mr. Wiseass Rudeypants, that's not what I mean.

Your father wants a place at the beach, too. You know why? Because he knows it would make your mother insanely happy. See how that works?

"Uh....not really."

Well, you've got time to figure it out, I guess.

In any case......

Ocean City Beach Vacation! Next Week! Yeeeeehawwww!

(excited? me? what makes you think so?)

(Rock Lobster; The B-52s)

06 September, 2006

It's True.

"...but attractive to the eye and soothing to the smell. Ha-ha-ha-ha. Poppies....."

I eat poppy seed rolls partly because it would be mortifying to come up too squeaky clean on a random drug test.

(Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West; The Wizard of Oz, 1939)

05 September, 2006

Blogging This

...two guys walk into a bar....

BuddahPat, the Animal, Desdemona One and I sit in a BYOB Thai restaurant when Superman walks in. This sounds like the opening to a joke, but it's just the opening to my post, and I didn't even write it. The Animal did. Plus, it actually happened like that. BuddahPat was a Thai virgin, which is fair because he popped my sushi cherry, though it was someone else who convinced me (under influence of beer) to try sashimi.

After Thai, we go to Turner's, where BuddahPat's favorite beertender is on duty. I see two lovely reasons why she's his favorite. She's also really sweet, and makes me a weenie (read: I can drive after drinking it) Cosmo. Which was delicious.

We watch pretend TV. It was the episode of Barney Miller where Joan Collins makes a guest appearance. And Gary Busey in a bad toupee. The Animal rolls his eyes.

"What was her name?"

Never tell me that I know YOUR favorite bartender's name before you do.

"Ah, but you do. What was it?"

It's Tori. And I think she, like Beyonce, is proof of the existence of God. I know this is a favored theory of his.

"That's right. Beauty like that doesn't happen by accident."


Thursday, the rain begins. Between then and now, the five gallon bucket in my front yard has nearly filled. And it continues to come down. Ernesto The Hurricane knocked out power in our area, including at the Festival, but we persisted. As did the patrons. Still, I'm glad I don't have to work in the weather today.


In white angel outfits, we pass Kate Cox's booth. Her baby daughter is wrapped in red silk. Kate passes her to me, and we pose. Somebody get me a copy of that.

Later, I let myself lag behind, looking at the backs of my troupe, all stilted up. The big pow of turquoise, red and lilac fills my eyes. Something else, pride, maybe, or joy, fills my heart. Whatever it is, I'm glad to be on site, because my throat is also full and I couldn't speak if I wanted to.


"Look, it's Mimi! There she is!"

I put on my 'I'm so glad to see YOU' face, just in time. "Look, honey, I told you she'd remember!"

I put out my hand. She rears back.

"She's afraid of gloves. It's okay, sweetheart, this is Mimi! She's been talking about you all year!" Right, the little fairie girl afraid of gloves, I do remember. She was Vignette #4. And she's brought not only her grandparents, but also her parents and her new baby brother, who I promptly steal. Oh, way to comfort the kid. Go, Mimi.


I tip my hip, saucy, at a patron the beertender has now informed me "totally just took a photo of your bum." In response, Mac McPatron flashes me.

He flashes me.

That's right, lifts his kilt from where he sits on a bench and flashes me his wanker.

Apparantly he's got a sheepskin tucked inside the back of his wool kilt- which makes sense for sitting- and there it lies, like an uncooked sausage on a fluffy bun.

Before I look away with a shudder of astonishment, it registers that he's not only regimental, he's uncut.


"I stumbled across it by accident, and I can't believe there's no mention of me."

You did not read through three years' worth of archives. You did not.

"M. was away. I had a lot of free time," he says with an embarassed shrug. "But not one mention! I mean, we've shared stuff!"

So we have, Johnboy, like spit, during a recent murder mystery. Also, you happen to be one of my favorite former-YAE kids. Er, former kids.

Plus, you've read my archives. That alone earns you a mention. AND your own special code name.

....you'd think the second one would've ducked.

01 September, 2006

Inside Job

...Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip/ Mum mum mum mum mum mum/ Get a job Sha na na na, sha na na na na....

Totsie brings up an interesting point. There is probably some need for 'back story'. To those of you for whom this is already old hat, skip ahead to the joke at the end. And Dan Tobin should skip it entirely, since he only reads the short ones.

In 1985, my mother saw an advertisment for performers for the Renaissance Festival. My friends Kate and Teever and I went down on a Saturday. I auditioned as a mime. I was contracted, by director John Strucken, assistant directed by Carolyn Spedden.

The Maryland Renaissance Festival began thirty years ago as a tent show at a local music venue. You can read more about it here.

My history is as Mimi, Mime Game-Master. As best I remember it, so please excuse any details I've gotten wrong.

I missed my first weekend of the 1985 Faire- the first year it was in Crownsville, Maryland- because my grandfather died and my sister and I flew to Detroit for his funeral. I finished sewing trim on my costume on the plane. I missed another weekend in 1989, when I went on my honeymoon. And then, in 2003, I missed the final two weekends, because I broke myself.

That first costume worked well, and looked good, but because it was back-lacing, was impossible to get into alone. Also, the white blouse had a habit of coming untucked from the black trousers, which looked messy. It was cute, though: A white blouse, black bodice, black trousers, white tights and black slippers. The slippers fell apart after two weekends, and it took several years before I finalized my footwear look. Then, two or three years ago, I revised it again. I spent my days playing with patrons. I met Coco in 1986, when she was the village bag lady.

That first season, there was a storyteller's chair. I sat down in it towards the end of the day, one day near the end of the season. A patron eating some cookies asked if I was going to tell a story. I nodded sarcastically. She waited, expectant. On the spot, I told the story of the The Three Bears. She followed and enjoyed. Others gathered and paid attention. It was a birth.

The next year, John scheduled me for several slots in the storyteller's chair. The year after, the same, only that year, it rained. A lot. Jim Frank felt sorry for the soggy little mime with only a few brave souls to sit on soggy hay bales to watch. He had taught himself to eat fire, and closed my show for me with something more entertaining than my stories. Once, I was brave enough to ask him to teach me to eat fire. He said yes. This was how our partnership began.

Seven years later, our partnership dissolved. I'd just had my first baby and he was getting married. In the meantime, we'd done four shows a day together as Firespiel, traveled to do a season at the Georgia Renaissance Festival (which John Strucken was directing), walked stilts together in parades and other places (for ten or more years, every pair of stilts I owned was Jim-built.), done one season with Jer Gallay as The Imaginary Circus, run through three costume looks, changed focus, argued, agreed, learned new skills and kept old jokes. It was during this time that marshmallows came to be known as 'mime bait.' Now, of course, it's liquor. I began to do murder mystery shows with Coco, outside the Faire. Inside the Faire, I had developed a stilt show all by myself, written for, costumed and directed Dragons By The Tale, a theatre troupe that performed children's material, ate fire at the non-Pub-Sing pub amidst wild drumming, hopped behind the bar for guest stints as 'beer mime' and learned how to make amazingly simple, but somehow impressive, huge bubbles.

By this time I was wearing what I still wear at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, a black unitard with a cropped Tudor-style top trimmed with bells. That top has held up surprisingly well. I wish I knew what I had made it from. I 'outgrew' my favorite pair of stilt pants- which I still wear in Pennsylvania, with short, JimBuilt stilts- a beautiful purple paisley rayon blend that flow when I move. I developed a solo fire-eating show, and a friend painted a beautiful banner for it. I built MimeCamp, a place to stilt up, keep costume changes and food. I had the opportunity to work with the Young Actors' Ensemble for a couple of years. This is where I met That Girl, who said to me, "I want to do everything you do." Well, that was fine, since I'd been looking to clone myself for three years or so, thinking that double the Mimi meant double coverage at the faire. Which did not happen, exactly. Something else did, perhaps better. Also at this time, Fluffy decided he wanted to be in my Mimi Flambe show- I was doing a couple of Mimi Flambe shows each day, and one or two storytelling shows. My storybook had increased from just The Three Bears to a total of four or five stories, including a naughty one about a maiden and a moose that the Pyrates used to narrate. Fluffy, as Max joined the act, and was an instant hit. Gigi joined the act, and was an instant hit. Fuzzy, safe at home and three years old, was furious. With Fluffy's help, she painted a cardboard box to be HER makeup case, and chose her name. Yes, a full two years in advance. Each of them began training to walk stilts at five years of age. Their first stilts were also JimBuilt. Now, we all walk HickoryStix, which were created by Martin Ewen, Lurk, in the Altitude Factory, which was located in my basement, just for irony.

Moresca sent out a catalogue with a white costume they called Gelsomina. I HAD to have it. Debra at DragonWings built a gorgeous feathered hat to go with it. I was hesitant to wear it at Faire, because of dirt. Patron response convinced me otherwise. That Girl came up with the idea of a procession of the four of us, all in white. She built the first cloak, and decorated the children's costumes. Since then, we keep adding elements. And now, I'm midway through a build of another set of fanciness, not white this time.

Shortly after Gigi joined me, she began to outshine me. In a sartorial fashion, if you'll excuse the pun.

"You need to be brighter," Carolyn told me. I tried purple. "You need to be brighter," Carolyn told me. "Look at Gigi, how she just stands out." Okay, does hot pink stand out enough for you?

So here I am these days, in a shiny hot pink spandex unitard and a brocade jacket, with pink superhero boots and my poufy long-tailed trademark hat. Guess what? I am bright. I stand out.

My day used to begin atop the front gate, blowing bubbles. Then I became part of a troupe, and now our opening is in fabulous white costumes, and if anyone has put a photo of this on the 'net, I can't find it. I've looked. I used to spend a lot of time taking families of patrons to various places on site when I saw them staring at the map in complete befuddlement. Nowadays, I spend a lot of time on stilts stealing sips of beer from patrons. Mime Lunch has evolved from a simple picnic wherever we felt like having it to the un-show, Chat and Chew With Mimi and Gigi at the Boar's Head Tavern. We are SuperModels, and spend an inordinate amount of time changing from one costume to another all day. We also officially finish at 3:30 PM, so latecomers may never even see us.

I still guide lost patrons, steal beer and babies, grin and wave madly to people I don't know, pose for photographs, fall in love with special guests and give them Most Favored Patron status, see self-Designated Patrons year after year with their authentic garb, and their rabbit fur covered baskets which contain cell-phone, PDA and digital camera. I know vendors better than the acting company, since they return year after year. An actor has to be with the company three or four years before I'll even notice him, unless he's living in my house. But now I have a troupe, an entourage, a partner, a family. Together, we're bigger than Mimi ever was.

I think that's a good thing.

I once knew a poet who would start writing his poetry immediately when he got up in the morning. You could say that he went from bed to verse.

(Get A Job; Silhouettes)