The Work that We Do

Today I celebrate the work that I do!
I know.
There is a special Day set aside the first Monday in September to Celebrate our Labor!
And that’s Great!
But I Love the Work that I do, and to Celebrate That only one day a year seems like hardly enough!

Oh, and it’s not just because I work in Show Business,
And that’s’ Fun (most days!)
It’s really just because I work!
I Love Work!

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Three Beautiful Things

Charles Johnson Tuthill

Last Week there was a Memorial for my friend CHARLES.
He was a fairly renowned Acting Teacher.
And I Loved Him!

Who could Not Love CHARLES!
There was Nothing not to Love!

It was a Simple and Heartfelt Memorial at an Acting Studio where he taught.
So Many Current and Former Students.
A few presentations, after which anyone who had something to say was invited to come forward.
After several students spoke, I got up,
“So many of you are talking about CHARLES as a Teacher,” I began. “But I knew CHARLES as a Student.”
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BreakFast in the TreeHouses 5 of 5

BreakFast in the TreeHouses
The Best of the Breakfasts!

Today: MUFFIN MAGIC

There is something Magical about Muffins!
Let’s face it! It’s Cake for Breakfast!
It’s Cake in individual size portions.
It’s Cake you wake up to!
It’s Cake you can eat fresh out of the oven!

There is also something that feels especially homemade about Muffins… perhaps it’s because unlike a Cake baked for an occasion, Muffins have a way of making an otherwise ordinary day feel like an occasion.
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BreakFast in the TreeHouses 4 of 5

BreakFast in the TreeHouses
The Best of the Breakfasts!
 
Today: COOKIES COOKIES COOKIES
Here’s the thing about Cookies:


“…There is a problem with the plan

The no more eating cookies plan!

The problem with the plan

Is if we want to eat more cookies, then, in fact, we can…

Cookies, cookies, cookies, cookies…”

— from A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD, a Musical by WILLIE REALE, based on the Stories by ARNOLD LOBEL

This is the Fourth Day this Week that we are featuring Breakfast Recipes, many of which I have whipped up at Tree House Point .
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BreakFast in the TreeHouses 3 of 5

BreakFast in the TreeHouses
The Best of the Breakfasts!
 
Today: PUFF PASTRY TRIANGLES

One of My Favorite Things!
First of All, Puff Pastry is Good!
So they’re Always Good!

Secondly, use store bought Puff Pastry from the Freezer Case!
As Janet the Magic Treehouse Kitchen Sorceress said to me years ago when she taught me these treats, “We make Everything from scratch. Except our Puff Pastry.
Because with the Wonderful Ones on the market, to make your own, you’d have to be…” and she affably rolled her eyes in a gesture that clearly read as “Plum Loco!”
Now, if you’re the kind of Chef who makes your own, I think that’s Great — If you can do it, and you have the time, How Marvelous!
Invite me over for BreakFast!
But for most of us, it can be prohibitively time consuming.
I did try (more…)

BreakFast in the TreeHouses 2 of 5

BreakFast in the TreeHouses
The Best of the Breakfasts!

Today: EGG BAKES

EGG BAKES are fairly simple.
They are a Great Way to serve Breakfast to a lot of guests, without having to cook individual omelets for each person, which would likely not all be ready at the same time.
With a little prep the day before, the Egg Bake pops in the Oven, and comes out ready all at once so that everyone may enjoy Breakfast Together.
And Community — Being Together — is a Beautiful Way to start the Day
And Live the Day, for that matter!

At Tree House Point www.TreeHousePoint.com , I have seen a greater variety of Egg Bakes than I could have known existed.
Creative People, Creating for Other People…
Celebrating Community!

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BreakFast in the TreeHouses: 1 of 5

JOE MANGIELLO’s BIG ITALIAN SAUSAGE ROLL

BreakFast in the TreeHouses
The Best of the Breakfasts!

All the Rushing.
Never standing still.

The Automation
The ATMs
Ticket Machines
And Online Ordering…
Rarely encountering another person — Rarely experiencing what used to be called Customer Service.
Sometimes we need a Break from the Day to Day!

Summer in the TreeHouses
Brings BreakFast Recipes…
After all, we gotta’ eat!
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Now and Then

She managed on her own pretty well.
It is only since her eyesight failed
That she has started to have a few Falls.
Balance is a combination of three characteristics: Soles of the Feet, Eyesight, and Ears.
As we age, at least one of these things will tend to go.

“C’mon! You can do it!” the Young Woman says encouragingly to her baby boy, standing, but not yet finding his balance to walk the two steps toward her, as she sits on the floor of their Bronx Living Room, with her arms outstretched toward him.
“Cuhh’mon,” nodding and smiling brightly, talking in a now higher-pitched enthusiasm.
His feet find their balance, and he steps forward;
Her arms are there to catch the little boy in a hug as he finally falls back down to a more comfortable and familiar crawl.
“Yaaay!” she applauds him and cheers him on.
“Very Good! You took your first steps! That’s Very Good!”

One’s chance of Falling increases significantly each decade after age 65.
Once one has had a Fall, the chance of it happening again is way higher than it was before it happened — that is because the Fall usually indicates that one of the three aspects of balance is beginning to falter.
So the Doctors will test your feet, clean out your ears, and send you for an eye test.

The Retina Specialist was kind, and empathetic.
“You know,” he said, as he put his hand to his brow in consternation,
“There’s nothing we can do. We have no treatment for macular degeneration.”
He looked over at Mama.
Then he looked back at me and commented, “She’s So Sweet!”
“Yes,” I agree. “She is.”

She was in hospital.
He had come down with the mumps, and his Dad thought it best not to worry her.
So the Boy got on the phone with her every evening, making up stories about what happened in the playground at recess and pretending it had been an average day at school, so that she wouldn’t know he was ill, and wouldn’t worry.
When she was home from the hospital, they all had a good laugh about it.
“What a brave boy!” she said to him.

There are injections they can give when there is hemorrhaging going on around the retina.
They stick a needle directly into your eyeball.
Mama went through this three or four times.
It was painful for her.
It didn’t help.
But they did what they could.
“What a brave girl!” he said to her.

The other evening he helped her to write a Birthday Card to her Grandson.
He made out the check for her, and told her to sign it.
“I can’t see,” she whispered. And then, in a rare instance of breaking down in front of him, she put her hands to her eyes and cried.
She did not want him to see this.
She does not like for him to worry.

You can sign your name here,
His large adult hand guiding her small frail hand to the check.
“But I can’t see!” she repeated.
“You don’t need to see to write your name,” he reassured her gently, placing the pen point to the signature line.
“Just write. The muscle memory is in your hand. You can remember what it feels like to write your signature. Just let your hand sign it for you. You’ll remember.”

“Like This,” she would say, taking his tiny hand in her small adult hand, she would guide him to cursive.
“You’re learning!” she encouraged him.
He typically brought home a Report Card that had an A in every subject except Penmanship and Conduct.
While Father would react to these C’s bringing down his Average, she would take the boy aside and whisper, “The two subjects Mommy doesn’t care about are Penmanship and Conduct,
As long as you keep getting A’s in everything else!”
“You don’t need to write neatly,” she would tell him.
And as for Conduct, perhaps she knew that nothing she could say would improve the situation.

with her second Great GrandChild

She struggled. The writing was very shaky. But she signed it.
Now, the Card.
Write, “Love, Grandma,” he instructs her.
With no struggle, she writes smoothly and fluidly.
This she knows how to do.
And no one could stop her.
It wasn’t wobbly — it looked remarkably like when she began writing it, with such pride, thirty-some-odd years ago.
He encourages her. Her crying subsides.
She has said three or four times in the ten or fifteen minutes it takes to do this,
“I don’t know what I would do without you!”
“You can never know how much I appreciate you!”

She says all of the things he felt but was unable to articulate as a child.
All of the things that any child feels and no child knows how to put into words.
That is part of being a child.
A Parent finds satisfaction in how their Children Grow.
The wisdom to speak from Gratitude — that is a part of Growing Older.
In Life’s Sunset, there are Words,
Reflections,
Memories,
and ideally Peace.

Eggplant Parmesan is a complicated process

He stays later.
He makes his Elderly Mom Eggplant Parmesan.
He’s tired.
He’s Working.
He has other things to be doing, and dreams that are being put on hold.
It is so time-consuming.
But it brings him So Much Joy to see her Happy.
She is his Mother.
This is the natural priority behind which all other things line up.

But Oh So Delicious!

She gets up early in the Morning.
She makes the Boy EggPlant Parmesan.
Getting four kids ready for school, she didn’t have an excess of time to make such elaborate lunches every morning, but she always did it.
She had other things to be doing, and dreams that were being put on hold.
It is so time-consuming.
But it brings her So Much Joy to see him Happy.
She was his Mother.
This is the natural priority behind which all other things line up.

What a Mother teaches a Child by Example
May reveal itself some day, in ways you may not anticipate.

“How did she get here?” she wonders.
Taking Care of the Kids!
It seemed like only a moment ago, she was going out and having Fun!
How she Loved to Dance!
The Rainbow Room — SINATRA, DINO and all the Old Crooners.
How he Loved to Dance!
The Ice Palace — THE VILLAGE PEOPLE, DONNA SUMMER, and all the Disco Headliners.
That all seemed a LifeTime Away Now, So Far in the Past!
Now, a CareTaker and in the Second Half of Life…

But she Loved what she’d found.
Children.
Family.
Being a Mother.
Life was Like that — ever revealing Newfound Treasures of Being.
She takes the Boy’s hand.
She can feel him Letting Go.
She doesn’t want him to Go,
But they both know it’s necessary.
Time to Grow Up,
Become a Good Man,
Remember everything she taught him.
She is Proud of him.
Still, she holds his hand a little too tightly
Wishing he would remain her Boy Forever.

He takes his Mother’s Hand.
He can feel her Letting go.
He doesn’t want her to Let Go.
But they both know it’s necessary.
He wants her to be Comfortable,
Be a Good Patient.
He remembers everything she taught him.
Still, soon, she may not remember who he is.
He is Proud of her, handling this with such Grace and Strength.
He holds her hand a little too tightly
Wishing she would remain here Forever.

She Loves being a Mom.
He Loves having a Mom. Most of his friends’ Moms are gone.
It is what she’s always wanted.
It’s just that she has no time to herself and no days off.
Imagine if all your free days are spent being there for someone else.
That is what being a Mom to a young child is.
That is what having an Elderly Mom is.
That is what Love is.
Finding the JOY.
Grateful for who you are and all that you have!
Showing up for your Life and doing what you do and this is your Life and it is to be Treasured!
All is right in her world.
All is right in his world.

He wants his Mommy!
He takes her hand.
He wishes she would never let his hand go.
She can save him from anything — the Monsters under the Bed and the occasional Nightmares.
He is scared to go to sleep alone, as most little boys are, for the irrational fear that he might die during the night and she would not be there to hold his hand.
She will always be there for him!
And this Gives him Peace,
Even though there are things a Mother knows.
She wants her Son!
She takes his hand.
She wishes he would never let her hand go.
She is scared to go to sleep alone as most elderly people are, for the understandable fear that she might die during the night and he would not be there to hold her hand.
She knows he cannot save her from this.
He believes with all his heart that he will always be there for her!
And this Gives him Peace,
Even though there are things a Mother knows…

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Reinventing OurSelves in the Second Half of Life

It is Nothing Short of Glorious!
In our Youth-Focused Culture, it may seem daunting.
But it is as natural as any other coming of age!
And we’ve been through so many such transitions…

Like an Onion, we shed our skin and there is a Whole New Fresh and Flavorful Layer Underneath!
It feels like bitterness as it squirts in our eye, but ultimately it makes everything Sweeter!
That which we see as an Ending is also a Beginning!

t.s.eliot put it this way:
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Happy Endings

JIMMY STEWART in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

I grew up in a World of Happy Endings!
I remember watching Movies on television.
Television was relatively new.
And that did not seem at the time like something that would date me the way typing that sentence does now.
As the movie ended and LASSIE came home,
Or ANNA and the KING of SIAM Danced, and she stayed to take care of his Children,
Or ROCK HUDSON and DORIS DAY worked out their relationship,
Or JUDY GARLAND and MICKEY ROONEY got their show up and it was a Success…
I remember how MOM would sigh a sigh of greatest satisfaction and say something like, “All Right. See? Everything worked out all right!,”
Usually followed by “OK, time for bed now,”
as we were often allowed to stay up late to watch the end of the Movie.

Now, I go to sleep with news reports like the dropping of the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast.
I do not sleep well anymore — like most Americans that I know.
I am longing to hear MOM’s satisfied sigh
“All Right. See? Everything worked out all right!,”
And I notice that Happy Endings are not so readily available.
LA LA LAND… Not for me.
And when people say, ‘Oh, but they did end up Happy. They each realized their dream and they held a special place in one another’s Lives,”
I say, “That is Ordinary!
That is what we are already Living .
What we aspire to — that is what the Arts are for!”
ASPIRE!
REACH HIGHER!
Let us be Inspired — that word, meaning literally, to Take in Air!
Take my Breath Away, that I might Breathe Again — filling my lungs with Fresh Clean Oxygen, given us by every Green Living Thing on this Planet!
Teach Us how it can be!
Even if we don’t reach it in our LifeTime, allow us for a few hours — even for a moment — to See, to Feel, what it Can Be!

Give me ARRIVAL — take a Risk and against all odds; Find a way to Peace!
Give me HIDDEN FIGURES and Help me to see the possibilities of Accomplishment in a time period in which such things seemed un-doable, and Happen Anyway!
Give me the Glorious ending of CINEMA PARADISIO!
Give me Triumph!
Give me True Love!
Give me what I am here to Learn!

Back when I saw HAIRSPRAY for the first time, years ago at its Broadway Premiere, I explained to my Office Colleagues why I Loved it So Much!
Redemption!
For me, a Musical, a Show, a Movie… a Story must have REDEMPTION!
That’s what I am going for!
That is why I am there!
Here is my Acid Test for a Play or Movie:
“I am giving you two hours of my Life! Change Me!”
And if you change me for the Better, I like it even More!

A few days later, a Colleague asked me, rather casually, “ARNIE, have you seen JUNO?”
“Not yet,” I replied.
“Well, I think you’re gonna’ like it!” he told me. “It’s got a lot of that Redemptive Shit in it that you like so much!”

The World is in a troubled place, at the moment.
So many of us have felt the tremors — to our Very Foundations!
But as Artists, we Reach Beyond,
Elevate,
Extend,
Dream Bigger,
Make Waves,
Invite New Possibilities,
And See More than just what’s in front of us!

My Heart Aches for this new Generation coming forward in a World As Is,
And mistakenly thinking that that is how it has to be.
The World is not a Factory Second.
The World is a Launching Pad for your Dreams!
The World is So Many People Beyond yourself who need precisely what it is that You have to Offer!
The World is a Pot of Boiling Eggs with Vinegar and You are the Color!
The World is a Blank Canvas and You are the Vision!
The World is a Pile of FireWorks on a Summer Night and You are the Flame that ignites it!
The World is a Piano and You are the Musician!
We have no need for you to create the World as it is! We know that already!
We need You to show us how Everything works out All Right!
We need you to help us Find a way to Peace!
We need You for the World as it Could Be!

Somehow, we have a plethora of Art right now reflecting back to us what we are.
This has Value.
And this has Merit.
But this is not what I’m in it for!

BARBARA STANWYCK in STELLA DALLAS

As RAFIKI says in THE LION KING, “Look Harder!”
Find within you what you have to Show Us…
What you have to Teach Us…
Help us to see what it is about you for which the World has waited Centuries!
Let us Celebrate your Arrival!
And in this brief time we have together,
Show Us what to do Next!

If a Happy Ending does not seem realistic enough to you right now,
Then you are not looking beyond what has already been handed to you!
Life is a Collaborative Process!
It is not for you to reflect back that which we already have.
It is yours to Create for us that which we most need!

Bring it!
It is what you came to do!

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