Friday, November 28, 2008

Beyond FUN: Late Thanksgiving Wishes

Hope your Turkey Day gave you lots to smile about!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beyond FUN: RIVER STORY by Margarita Blush

Yesterday featured a Sunday drive up to Boulder to see an amazing shadow puppet play in the Canyon Theater of the Boulder Public Library. The play, River Story, is based on the Bulgarian folktale “Zlatka, the Girl Made out of Gold.” Margarita Blush, a friend and fellow 2008 Rocky Mountain Women’s Institute associate, is a native of Bulgaria as well as an extremely talented performance artist. Also a theatre and drama teacher at the Ricks Center for Gifted Children in Denver, Margarita not only performs in River Story, she adapted the story, helped design props and costumes, and directed and designed the entire production.

And what a production it is! River Story effectively melds dramatic storytelling and acting with music, puppetry, stunning shadow effects and the use of unique physical props. Before a full house that consisted mainly of very young families, the play captivated toddlers and preschoolers as effectively as it entertained adults.

While teaching the rewards of kind treatment of others, River Story also reminds viewers of their own inner strengths and goodness. As Margarita puts it:

“Through traditional folk wisdom and beautiful imagery, this tale reminds us that we can shape our own destinies, that we hold the key to happiness in our own hearts. The story tells of a kind young maiden, Zlatka, who overcomes obstacles to discover her own strength and the path to happiness.”

Parts of River Story feature a Veela—a mythological woodland fairy—who lives deep in the Bulgarian forest. Performed by Margarita’s mentor, fellow puppeteer, and amazing designer Betsy Tobin of Now Or Never Theatre, the Veela guides Zlatka in her life-changing journey.

Betsy Tobin not only brings the Veela—and a number of other diverse River Story characters—to life, she designed and created the two stunning hand-held puppets used in the play as well as a fun mask she wears at different points. The energy and convictions that fuel Betsy’s acting contribute not only to the overall performance of River Story, but to the immense interest of the show to even the youngest audience members.

Special lighting handled by Jesse Tobin Weiss; incredible wood and metal set pieces built by Margarita’s husband, Robert Blush; terrific acting and behind-the-scenes work by cast member Ashley Adams; and memorable music by cellist James Hoskins also seamlessly contribute to the River Story production. James Hoskins’ use of traditional instruments such as the Bulgarian folk-fiddle and Margarita’s fun Bulgarian dancing and ephemeral singing help audience members of all ages imagine life in a far-away land and welcome them to experience it with joy.

“I have wanted to share the magic and beauty of Bulgarian folklore with American audiences for a long time,” Margarita notes. “River Story is the fruit of that desire; it embodies my love for Bulgarian mythology, music, and tradition. I hope this story will touch the hearts of those who see it with the power of images, sounds, and ideas that are true to all of us and bring us together.”

Photos from after the production of River Story at the Boulder Public Library © Karen DeGroot Carter, thank you very much! While my daughters really enjoyed seeing the actors and puppets and props up close, they most enjoyed meeting Margarita’s sweet daughter, Sophia. Many thanks to all the cast members for sharing their love of theatre with audience members after their show. The entire experience was truly one my girls and I will always remember.

Schools, recreation districts, libraries, and other organizations interested in scheduling a production of River Story are welcome to contact Margarita Blush directly at margaritablush AT

Monday, November 10, 2008

Beyond THE FUTURE: My Mixed-Race Family

All the work I’ve done over the past few months on has certainly been gratifying, but I’m most proud of the essay that’s posted on it called My Mixed-Race Family. Give it a read for a little insight into the impact of the Obama election from an increasingly not-so-atypical American family’s point-of-view.

(Fuzzy) photo of our very own Lady Liberty with Eddy. The photo’s fuzzy because we were all giggling along with her. :)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Beyond FAITH: Election Day Emotions

For me, faith has a lot to do with elections. Faith that the best person will win, faith that the person elected will stand up for what he/she believes and will follow up on the many promises made over the last two tumultuous years of campaigning. I’ve held onto an instinctive faith that Barack Obama would be the Democratic nominee for president in the 2008 election since he arrived on the national stage during the 2004 election. Call that blind faith, but it’s what I felt, and when it became possible he might not win the nomination earlier this year, I was surprised and a little worried, but I kept praying. Maybe that helped, I don’t know, but luckily things turned around and today votes are being cast for a typical Republican candidate and a blessedly non-traditional, intellectual, visionary Democratic candidate. Today, history is being made.

I just spent some time scanning through photos from this morning of the Obama family heading to the polls in their Chicago neighborhood. As usual Senator Obama wore a suit, but Michelle and the girls arrived with him in casual clothes, their hair pulled back or braided, reminding us how down-to-earth this small, historic family remains in the face of one media circus after another. I’m struck by this fact every time they appear together. Today I noticed Malia’s eyes as she listened to her dad at the polling booth; Michelle’s bent head as she cast her vote not only for the presidency but for statewide and local initiatives she knows will impact so many lives; Sasha’s tendency to lean against someone close because little ones get tired sometimes, especially with all that standing around while the world watches. Something about this family and this election makes me very emotional, but I’ve been so busy with projects like the Imagine A Great Election site that only this morning did the emotions finally take over. I voted last week, and was very matter of fact about it. Pleased and relieved after waiting so long, but not emotional at all. Today, however, is another story. And tonight I may just be a mess. But I’ll have my family around me and I’ll hold onto my faith that the best person will win this election, though I’ll be saying lots of prayers as I attempt to help that outcome along. Faith truly can make a difference. Just look at who’s running for president.

FYI, if you’re tracking electoral votes and curious about projections and past election results, visit for a nifty Electoral Vote Tracker, reviews of projections past and present, and a quick run-through of the Electoral College Process.