This week is all about transitions, as both a noun (the process or a period of changing from one state to another) and as a verb (to undergo or cause to undergo the process or period of transition).
First up, transitions in the form of a verb. Why? Because my first topic is about dancing in the Dance Center of Walla Walla’s ballet Snow White.
By the time you read this blog, that event will be history. The Center’s adult tap class, of which I am a member, performed as dancing pastry chefs (!) who have baked up a storm for Snow White’s birthday. Our dance is two minutes long, red and white checked chef’s hats on our heads and aprons trimmed to match. There are four of us. We are the carefully choreographed comic relief in Act I.
I love the dancing part! You are having so much fun!
I love the pastry part!!
I do a lot of performing these days, but it’s been 22 years since I’ve been onstage as a dancer. One transition I make for the show is typical actor stuff, facilitated by costume, makeup (a rarity for me these days) and character.
The other transition was something I had to figure out within the dance.
A particular step our teacher calls Low-Low-High-High Run was tripping me up. The purpose of the step is to really move out during the last bit of the dance but for some reason I kept stalling out, hearing the beat leading into the step and thinking with terror What do I do now?
I knew the shape of the step, starting with the right leg extended back, foot down; the part it took me forever to absorb was the right leg takes a big step forward first, then the body shifts forward at an angle to give the impression of running. After much repetition at home I finally schooled the transition into my muscles and limbs. Instead of fearfully dead-sticking my right leg behind me I now vault forward like Dick Van Dyke. In my mind, anyway.
Transitions are popping up like mad these next few days. Two days after Snow White, I’m presenting as Nellie Gilliam Day for the Mountain View Cemetery historic tour. Nellie, an early Walla Walla person of note who lived 85 years, was buried there in 1940. In less than 48 hours I will pivot from comic pastry chef to progressive-minded pioneer. Actually, I’ve been undergoing the transition process in parallel with Snow White rehearsals, running Nellie’s short piece from memory three times a day for the past two weeks. Come Saturday morning, on with the appropriate costume and- -go!
The cemetery is so interesting! I really liked Symbol Quest activity we did last summer, identifying Victorian-Era icons on headstones.
I thought it was creepy. And it was hot, too.
This time it’s more likely to be rainy, 9. I might need an umbrella to keep Nellie’s straw boater dry.
Weren’t boaters out of style in 1940?
They were, Lily, but I’m portraying Nellie in 1906, when she became the first female employee at the Walla Walla Evening Bulletin.
Moving right along, Nellie treads the boards again on Wednesday, June 8. This time the year is 1912, and she’s in the company of three other Walla Walla notables in a short ensemble piece. We presented this to the general public in April; this time around, it’s part of a special group event at Fort Walla Walla Museum. I’ll start reviewing my lines Saturday, after I get back from the cemetery.
So, whew, three transition-loaded one-off performances in seven days!
But there’s the sad transition going on, too.
Yes. Parallel with this cycle of performing runs the issue of Friday’s health. If you read this blog regularly, you know that my 15-year-old tuxedo cat, Friday June the Sixth, has been experiencing severe health issues for several months. This Tuesday I rushed him to the vet, certain that this was “it” as his legs were barely functioning and his breathing had abruptly become labored. The vet (who has been treating Friday for GI issues since November- -we’ve been living on borrowed time since then) felt a new mass in Friday’s abdomen. X-Rays revealed a huge tumor there and fluid in the pericardium (the sac around the heart). However, the vet said Friday still had some quality time left (probably quantifiable in days) and that he was not in pain. Friday, who is usually silent on trips to the vet, had been yelling that very same thing to me on the way.
So. We’re home again. Friday’s mobility has improved and I’m administering fluids every day for his poorly-functioning kidneys. He’s enjoying time in the back yard (so thankful the days are warm and sunny again), drinks water but won’t eat (even after an appetite stimulant) and purrs at the merest touch. I watch for transitions and work to transition my own sad thoughts to the joy of the time we have left.
For all of life’s transitions it seems two things remain the same:
- When you’re struggling with something important, keep working at it
- Remember to enjoy the beautiful beings and moments that are right there in front of you
Subscribe To Susan's Newsletter
Join the official mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Susan D. Matley. It's free and you can opt out anytime!