It’s 2024 and we are now officially off and running for the production of Carried by the Current at the PUD theatre in downtown Everett in March. Which means we’re starting the New Year energized, excited and with long lists that we’re having to check twice to get everything done. But it’s happening!!!

And before I progress any further, with the plugs and the links, I wanted to slow down and appreciate all that you’ve done to help us get to this place. I was just listening to Rosanne Cash, the singer-songwriter, being interviewed on NPR, and at the end of the interview she was asked if she had any words on what matters in life. She mentioned art, music, children, kindness, optimism and then she paraphrased Gandhi by saying, “What you do will be insignificant, but it’s essential that you do it.”  It seems to me that we spend a lot of time thinking about what we haven’t done, because so often those things we do feel small—insignificant—compared to the larger picture of life. But if we slow down and take the time to look at those small things, we’ll see that they are the larger picture. Part of it, at least. Helping a child graduate high school, making sure the car runs, getting a friend to an appointment, planting the garden, letting someone know we’re thinking of them with a card or an email, and yes, supporting that fledgling theatre company so they can put a play on stage. Your attendance at the previews we performed, reading our updates and sharing them with friends, sending checks, spreading the word, they may have taken the place of things you didn’t get around to doing for yourselves on certain days—but they created the fabric of our play production. And we’re very grateful you took the time to do them.

And we’re grateful that you have become part of the process the way you have. Many of you know that my husband and I have a little pottery shop attached to our house through which we sell the majority of his pottery. Years ago, I remember being confused about what to do when my toddler needed feeding while customers were pulling in to shop. This was early enough in our pottery shop venture that we needed all the sales we could generate and yet, my ten-month-old needed his lunch. I finally brought this up with my husband, Stephen, who said, “Just tell them you’re feeding the baby. And they should make themselves at home in the shop and if they want anything, to knock on the front door when they’re ready.”  We had some of our best sales on those days, and I came to appreciate how much people like being part of the process. How much they like being trusted, being spoken to honestly, and being asked to help. I sent out an abbreviated version of this blog post in an email to our subscribers (I don’t know how I did that, to be honest—let’s just say formatting things on the computer is not my forte) but already I’ve heard about book clubs being encouraged to attend the play, friends who want to volunteer, the link for ticket sales being passed along, and tickets being purchased. Talk about feeling supported. We thank you and the ladies from Texas in the story thank you also. I can feel it.

Now for those links. Tickets are available for purchase on the website, here. Dustin put together a great list of show times and prices. Full price tickets are $30, students and youth are $20 and we have a special “Pay it Forward” category, where you can purchase a ticket for a community member and they will reach out to us to secure it for themselves. Opening night is March 7th and we have made that “pay what you can” OR buy a full price ticket. Both options are available for that show. We want to fill as many seats as we can in this 300-seat theatre and make it accessible to all those who want to come to the play. Any questions, feel free to email us. And thanks to those who have already purchased tickets. You’re starting out our production—and our year—with a heartwarming thumbs up.

We’re getting some help with the virtual promotion of the play but we also put together these Save the Date postcards to send/give out. If you want any of them for friends, book club members, local libraries, historical associations or any other organizations or businesses you are a part of, please feel free to email about that too and we’ll get you copies. And, of course, word of mouth is the best form of advertising so please tell any and all.

In the meantime, we have a wonderful cast of actors for the play, and more stepping forward with offers to help as needed. We also have an experienced and much-loved set designer, Steven Craig, who has provided us with first drawings, and we’ve had offers to help build the set. What we need to do more than anything now is put together a crew to run the show. If you know of anyone who likes to work backstage at the theatre, or you would like to do something toward the production yourself, please fill out/share this volunteer form here and we’ll follow up with you.  

I thought I’d close by sharing a little of the novel I’ve been working on of this story we tell on stage. Writing it seems to be taking me an inordinate amount of time because I have to research almost everything I write in it, since it’s a work of historical fiction. But again, rather than berate myself with what I haven’t done, i.e. finish the novel yet, I have found myself appreciating the fact that I have been writing it. Because as we move into rehearsals, I’ve been able to incorporate into the play some of what I’ve learned through writing the novel. And that, for me, is my kind of heaven.

Anyway, here is the opening section of Sanctified. Happy New Year!

Chapter 1

March, 1868.

Martha lowered her stocky body to a crouch, her hands on her thighs, her elbows out, and peered into the mouth of the limestone cave that ran perpendicular to Nolan Creek on her property. Behind her, the water in the creek rolled and splashed over the rocks in its bed, adding meditative base notes to the quiet, grassy landscape, with its bursts of mesquite and broad-topped live oaks. Martha heard the staccato rattle of a Belted Kingfisher declaring its domain, followed quickly by a Mockingbird imitating the call. Morning was well underway. She squinted, scanning the dark interior of the cave for a clutch of brown eggs. Nope, it was too black in there, and the Texas sun too bright outside, for her eyes to see anything past the dark. She was going have to go in. She straightened back up and looked down at her dress. The full-skirted, beige cotton with the pretty purple flowers on it that she’d made special for her daughter Ada’s wedding wasn’t going to look like this after she’d gone grubbing through the cave for eggs. But she couldn’t afford to miss one, not if she was to buy feed for the hens that laid them.

She sighed. Who knew making a living would be this circular? And obstinate! Like pushing ground pork belly into hog casings; as soon as she thought she was close to being done it would come squeezing back out one side or the other. Made her question why she bothered making sausages when they frustrated her so. Because she liked them, is why. And if she didn’t do it right, the meat would just come spitting out of the pan when she was cooking it. She’d been spat at enough in her life already. This time she was going do it right.

She tucked the folds of her dress between her legs and lowered her achy knees down to the ground.  She wished the hens would be more sensitive to her being past forty now and lay their eggs in the coop every day instead of spreading them around. But maybe they knew something she didn’t. Maybe they knew that life couldn’t be a straight line from the kitchen to the chicken coop because of predators, watching out for the eggs. She worked a loose braid in her thick, auburn hair so it wouldn’t catch on the rough limestone, thinking—yet again—that she’d be better off with it short. If only she wasn’t always jumping like hot grease on a skillet she might find time to cut it. She dropped her hands to the ground and shouted into the echo-y cavern: “Y’all better’ve laid something in here for me to find.”

Then she lowered her head and crawled into the dank dark.