Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oz Puppets

Something I have been fascinated with my entire life are marionettes and puppets. I remember seeing a production of Sleeping Beauty in grade school, performed entirely with marionettes, and simply loving it (I recently found out the production was done by Stevens Marionettes). Another time, my grade school class too a field trip to the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee to see a production of Pinocchio, performed entirely by life size marionettes. it was fantastic and something I remember as if it was yesterday.

Since The Wizard of Oz is my all time favorite EVERYTHING, Oz puppet plays are a special interest of mine. Sadly, in my 40 years of life, I have never actually SEEN a puppet production of Oz! But, it's something I've added to my "bucket list" and have even toyed with the possibility of producing and performing a marionette version as part of the theatre company I co-founded, 5th Season.

In the mean time, here are some of the more famous, "historical" Oz puppet productions:

Jean Abel Gros was a prominent American marionette artist of the early twentieth century. In 1928 he mounted an Oz puppet show called The Magical Land of Oz, written by Ruth Plumly Thompson. The production played at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. Regrettably, Gros's Oz show was apparently never filmed or otherwise preserved. The show boasted a 14 piece marionette orchestra and was for the most part adaptation of Baum's third Oz book, Ozma of Oz (the orchestra members even looked like the "Nomes" as drawn by Neill). It's unknown at this time if a copy of Plumly Thompson's script survives.

In 1934 the Cornish players Puppeteers produced a version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Not much is known about the production. Photos from it were printed in the December 1934 issue of Theatre Arts Magazine. A short review was also published in the November 6th, 1934 edition of The Ubyssey student run newspaper. The review called it "marvelous" and "charming", commenting that "the story was clever and the dialogue light and simple". However, the music didn't fair as well, which they said "was of the trashy parlour variety hardly better than jazz." "Dorothy" was also compared in personality to Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie, in both personality and choice of hair color.

Suzari Marionettes began performing The Wizard of Oz as far back as 1948, and the show remained part of their repertoire until they closed in 1962. The company grew into Nicolo Marionettes and eventually Puppetworks. A version of the story has been a part of the company the entire time, including a blue-grass, country western score by composer Bruce Haack. The "Dorothy" in this production wore overalls to accent the farm theme. When the 1939 film had it's 50th anniversary they created a special 20 minute version for Macy's Herald Square promotional events. The puppets in the Macy version were made to resemble the cast of the movie..."Dorothy" in blue gingham and an upright "Man in a Lion Suit". Ordinarily, the company's Lion is a four footed animal puppet. The script was original, but underscored it with the film's score.

Bil Baird produced a marionette version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, based on the original book with the score from the 1939 MGM film. Phyllis Nierendorf was the voice and operator of "Dorothy" and Jerry Nelson (of Muppets fame) was "Toto". In the 1971 revival Olga Felgemacher was "Dorothy". I chatted with her once on the phone in prep for a never realized article I was planning on writing. She said Bil was a stickler for performing the voice track live, complete with a life orchestra. Felgemacher also said that, in true Baird fashion, the marionettes were performed as realistically as possible. She spent hours rehearsing picking up the bucket of water and dowsing the Witch to make it flow as smoothly as possible. The majority of the "cast" now live in the Charles H. Macnider Museum in Mason City Iowa. The "Dorothy" marionette is currently missing. No one I interviewed about the production knows what happened to her. In fact, a few fingers were pointed and accusations made as to her where abouts, but she remains missing. This puppet is the "Holy Grail" to me. I hope she is found one day.

The world renowned Salzburg Marionette Theatre included The Wizard of Oz as part of repertoire of a USA tour in the 1950's. Based on the limited information in the tour programme, the show appears to have been based on the book, rather than the film. It's unclear if it was a musical or not. The programme credits are grouped together for all the shows in the tour and not character/cast listing is provided. However, based on the reputation of the company, I have no doubt this was a spectacular production and probably deserves to be honored with a revival. With the success of there recent production of Sound of Music, maybe the company will venture into the world of musical theatre again and produce a full fledged production based on the RSC version of the MGM film.

International Wizard of Oz Club member and puppeteer, Bill Eubank, began producing puppet versions of Baum's first two books The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz. With assistance from club member Fred Meyer, Eubank created an iconic part of the early Oz Club conventions and get togethers. Using a combination of marionettes, rod and hand puppets, his characters were authentic recreations of the Oz characters as drawn by Denslow and Neill. Some of the figures were completely made from scratch and others, Dorothy in particular, were successfully created from a composition dolls. Eubank died in in 1993 and the puppets fell into obscurity. They were recently purchased by Oz collector and historian Fred Trust, and will hopefully be put on display somewhere of the world to enjoy again. Older Oz Club members very fondly remember these shows and will be thrilled to see the puppets again after all these years.

Michigan puppeteer and founder of Bixby Marionettes, Meredith Bixby, produced The Wizard of Oz in the 1960's. Bixby retired in 1982 and passed away in 2002. But the marionettes still exist, some of which are on display at the Saline District Library, including the "Dorothy" and "Tin Man" figures. One can only hope that the rest of the cast is still around and the group will someday be displayed together.

In the 1950's, television puppeteer Burr Tillstrom, creator of the TV show Kukla, Fran and Ollie, began work on a series of short made for TV films based on the Oz book, called The Wonderful Land of Oz, and performed by a combination of hand puppets and marionettes. Fran Allison was to continue her association with Tillstrom and appear in the cast, but as what is unknown. The Wizard of Oz was film and aired, and pre-production work was started on The Marvelous Land of Oz. the cast for Marvelous Land was built, but the episode was never filmed and the project abandoned. The Library of Congress holds a print of Wizard in it's archives, and the unused cast for Marvelous Land still exists in a private collection. it's a shame this series wasn't continued. It would have been wonderful!

Stevens Puppets originated their version of the Wizard of Oz in 1965 and it continues to be part of their touring repertoire to this day. The designs were inspired by the original Denslow illustrations, especially the "Scarecrow" and the "Tin Man", and are all hand carved. The script is closer to the movie version than the book, but it is not a musical, and eliminates the "Munchkins" and "Winged Monkeys". The show regularly plays to delighted audiences at the Wizard of Oz Festival in Chesterton Indiana, as well as schools and libraries all over the Midwest.

The Stockholm Marrionette Theatre of Fantasy crossed the pond in 1966 to bring a very unusual looking production of The Wizard of Oz to United States audiences. It toured along with Threepenny Opera, and played auditoriums across the country. The puppets were large marionettes worked by a crew dressed all in black, except for the "Cowardly Lion", who was the only non-puppet, and simply an actor dressed in a larger than life Lion suit. The dialogue was prerecorded and in "snooty sounding English voices", according to the New York Times review. The designs for the characters were described as "bright, primitive-sophisticated style of up-to-date children's illustrations." "Dorothy" sported a geometric arched hairdo and a dress covered in triangles. The adult critic didn't seem to enjoy this production, but did note that the children in the audience were loving it!
There is one other production I would like to add to this "historical" list, and that was done by The Reed Marionettes. Robin Reed began production on The Wizard of Oz and took 10 years to complete it. His future wife, Edith, joined him along the way and together they created a show that toured the Midwest for 40 years. I searched for photos of the production but came up empty handed. I contacted Reed's son, Tim, but have not heard back from him yet.
Well, that about covers it for the first part of this little essay. Stay tuned for the second installment featuring more current productions of Oz puppetry!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wow...

So, it's been a VERY LONG TIME since I wrote anything here. And so much has been going on...I don't know where to begin!!!


JOB

Well, when I started this blog I was working for Minute Clinic, via Prostaff, in downtown Mpls. that ended in January. I went back a few times to clean up and finish a few projects, but otherwise I was done. Next it was a one day stint at a grocery store food show at the Minneapolis Convention Center, again via ProStaff. After that I was out of work for a few months. I would have a lead here and there but mostly just dead ends or jobs that never panned out.

Then in April, a week before Easter, Prostaff assigned me to Discount Steel and Aluminum in Northeast Minneapolis. I was happy for a new position, but had two concerns: 1) an openly gay man working for a steel company and 2) it's a TERRIBLE neighborhood. But, I took the job and worked as the receptionist for a month. Then one day the head of purchasing came to see me about moving to his department on a trial basis. I was hesitant, as I had NEVER worked in purchasing before, but I took a chance and agreed. Well, needless to say, it didn't work out. I lasted a little over a 2 months and it just wasn't a good fit. Thankfully, they like me enough at DS that they offered me my old receptionist position back and I jumped at it. I've been doing that for a few weeks, still working for ProStaff. However, as of tomorrow, August 18th, I become a Discount Steel employee and will no longer be working via the temp agency. The only down side is that I am not full time, just under as a matter of fact, so I still don't have insurance, vacation or sick days. But, HR said hopefully business will pick up enough for them to take me on full time. But hey, I'M EMPLOYED!!!

THEATRE

In June I began rehearsals to play "Daddy Warbucks" in Annie for the Lundstrum center for the Performing Arts. The production was part of a theatre camp for 5-13 year olds. Warbucks, Miss Hannigan, Rooster and FDR were all played by adults, and the rest of the cast by the kids. Some of the rehearsals were rough, but we made it through and the show was a blast!
I had two different "Annies". One was a darling kid named Jada. She played the role for the first two perforances. the second is a very dear little friend of mine, Emily Albert-Stauning. I've mentioned her on this blog once before (when she was in A Christmas Carol). Annie is Emily's dream role, and to get to play a part of that realization was just too wonderful to imagine. She played the role the last two shows. She was simply perfect and a joy to perform with. Emily's family is very dear to Keith and I, which made playing her stage father even more meaningful to me. It was very special.

Right after Annie, Lunstrum produced another theatre camp using 14-17 year olds. The show they did was Bye Bye Birdie. Like with Annie, a few adults were brought in to play several roles and the rest were performed by the students. I played "Mr. MacAfee', father of the female juvinale lead, "Kim". Mae Peterson (brilliantly played by Nancy Marvy), Conrad Birdie, Albert Peterson and the Maypr were the other adults. This show was a but rough, but again, we made it to opening night and it was a success. I LOVED the kids playing my family: Marisa Jacobus was "Kim MacAfee", Fresa Sanchez was "Doris MacAfee" and Javon Williams was poor "Randolph MacAfee". Great kids...I kiss them.
Next on the boards...possibly another production of Annie. If I get in, it will be my third time a Warbucks. One of these times my hair might not grow back!!!

5th Season

Keith and I have been toying with trying to start up our theatre company again, and this time try to make it our full time jobs. But theatres, non-profits and arts programs are risky and difficult things to make work. Judy and Mickey made it look so easy in those old movies!!! we are thinking about doing a "gala' to reintroduce ourselves to the area, and hopefully raise some money to re-incorporate and get our 501C3 status again. Then it's off the the wonderful world of begging for money, or as it's officially called, applying for grants. Luckily we have two friends in our lives that are willing to do what they can to make this process a little easier on us. God Bless Them!

We are looking at remounting The Wizard of Oz as our first production...again. Only this time it will be the RSC version. Our last production of Oz was a hit, so hopefully this one will be even bigger and better!!!!

Keith (the husband)

Keith is still plugging away at his art work, and still dreaming of somehow making money at it someday. He is so talented, but like theatre, it's a difficult industry to break in to. He had a website and what I think is a great portfolio. He is currently working on illustrating Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ( a personal project of his...in now way authorized by J. K.) and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Oz, being out of copyright, is something he can illustrate, self publish and sell copies of....which is the plan. He s not an Oz fan like I am, but is enjoying his journey down the yellow brick road. As an Oz collector, I can't wait to see the finished product!
This October we will have been "married" 4 years. I put the term in quotes because in MN it still isn't recognized. But to us and God it is. And I love him even more than I did they day I said "I do".

My Oz Collection
The Oz obsession is always growing, but never fast enough for my greedy little self. I've replaced some things I had to sell in years past for groceries or bills, and picked up some new stuff as well. The Oz Room is starting to burst at the seams, but I'm not complaining!!!!

Grandma

This is a long and sad subject, but I will try to make is short. My grandma, someone I love and adore with all my heart, is 88 years old and at an age where she is falling too frequently and whose memory is on the fritz. Keith and I were going to take her in, and st first she was fine with it. But in her ornery old German way, she has now decided she doesn't want to leave her home. So, my lazy, good for nothing uncle is now living with her.
Where do I begin with explaining my uncle. He is in his middle 60's and NEVER had a full time job. He has defaulted on so many loans he has everyone from the U of Wis to the US Government trying to track him down and collect from him. He is an arrogant, self proclaimed authority on everything and a former draft dodger. My grandmother has supported him his whole life. And now he's living with her. Her savings, thanks to him, is almost gone (from $80,000 to $13,000 in 5 years). The family is beside ourselves as to what to do. My dad, her son-in-law, has a few ideas that we are putting in place. After that, we just pray. And then pray some more.
I guess that about covers it. I knew this was going to be a long one. I have promised myself to get better about posting here. Bye for now!

Oh yeah, I also turned 40!!!!










Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas...in OZ!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, December 2009 marks the first time I have an entire room (thank you Keith XOXOOX) devoted to my favorite pass time...my Wizard of Oz collection! It also marks the first time I have been able to combine it with my OTHER favorite pastime...Christmas Decorating!!!

Several years ago I began collection the Robert Tonner Oz dolls, with the intention of creating a giant "dollhouse" type Emerald City. Well, I started the project, even built the base for the display, but then life happened (lost job, found job, produced two musical, got fired....) and I never finished it. I was planning on unveiling it as a big Christmas display that year, complete with giant Christmas tree and doll scale decorations. Instead the dolls and props ended up in storage.

So, this year I decided, while it wouldn't be my huge, grand display I had originally imagined, I would still set something up in my Oz room using some of the stuff. Above is the main part of the display, and I must say I'm kind of proud of it!



Dozens of Oz themes ornaments cover the 3 foot Christmas tree at the center. Dorothy, Glinda, Scarecrow and other Oz characters look on as Santa Claus adds one final ornament to the tree. Santa is a regular guest at Oz parties. But Christmas is his special time of year. Thanks to Dorothy, the citizens of Oz are learning the TRUE meaning of Christmas, in addition to the part Santa plays.



Locasta, the Good Witch of the North, has the honor of being the tree top. She looks down upon the festivities with a smile of holiday and Ozzy delight! Mostly retired now, and having turned her ruling duties over to Glinda (who is now the Good Witch of BOTH the South AND North), she loves to come to the Emerald City Christmas party every year to perform this task.




The Tin Man introduces the Queen of the Field Mice to Gloria (left ) and Jinjur (right). Like many of the ladies in the Emerald City, both of these beauties have secret crushes on our "galvanized friend".





Trixie Tryfle, a former waitress turned Emerald City hair dresser, cuddles Dorothy's pink kitten, Eureka, as the Cowardly Lion finds his Christmas gifts. Ever since their first meeting at the Wash and Brush Company, the Lion lets no one else style his mane.







One of Santa's elves tries to convince the Woozy that not all Christmas gifts are for eating. He doesn't seem to be succeeding! Billina, the yellow hen, looks on. The special Noah's Ark was hand carved by the Tin Man as a gift for Dorothy. She read him the Bible story one night and he loved it! Dorothy doesn't know this yet, but next year he's going to carve her a complete Nativity scene! Shhhhhh.....


The Scarecrow receives his very own copy of Baum's Wonderful Wizard of Oz! This is a very popular book in this country!!! An elf also shows Scarecrow a little marionette he made. Santa's head elf is at his side in case his holiday boss should need her. And Toto (at Dorothy's feet) keeps an eye out for any dropped Christmas cookies.



The China Princess, China Milkmaid (and her cow!) and Mr. Joker are also in attendance, and very careful to stay out of every one's way! the Milk Maid forgave Dorothy and her friends years ago for that mishap in the Dainty China Country when the first met.









In another part of the palace, Jellia Jamb, Cayke the Cookie Cook, Munchkin Margaret and two of Santa's elves try to reassure jack Pumpkinhead that pumpkin pie doesn't come from any of his former heads. However, Jack doesn't look too convinced....

In the land of the Winkies, the Wicked Witch of the West, who apparently DID NOT melt (Thank you Wicked), jealously watched the scene in her crystal ball and tries to plot the end of Christmas (she, the Grinch and Scrooge were all good friends at one time. Little does she know they're reformed!) Nikko and the Winkie General silently look on. She has also noticed that Dorothy has recovered the Ruby Slippers she lost on her first trip home from Oz. If the Witch and her court weren't in hiding, there may be trouble in Oz!

The display is far from my original vision of a few years ago. But I plan on making this one grow every year. I have already begun work on creating several new Oz characters that Tonner doesn't make, and plans for a "royal court" scene using these dolls and other non-Oz Tonner dolls redone as Oz cast members.

The rest of the Oz room is also set up and looks like this:




I love my Oz room. The sad part is that there is still a closet FULL of stuff I didn't have room for!!! But I do love it. I sat in it and read while Keith was working in his studio. It was so nice and cozy with the Christmas lights on. Having this room for my Oz collection is a dram come true!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Christmas Carol....

Last Wednesday Keith and I saw the final dress rehearsal for this year's production of A Christmas Carol at The Guthrie in Minneapolis. We are dear friends with the family of one of the little girls in the show and we were given tickets by them.

I saw A Christmas Carol at The Guthrie about 10+ years ago, and hated it. A Lot. So the thought of sitting through basically the same production wasn't an appealing idea to me. Keith had never seen it, so he didn't really have an opinion on the matter. But we both wanted to see dear little Emily very badly, so there was no question as to whether we would go or not. Plus, with tickets being $70 - $20 each, seeing it for free was a no brainer!
This years production is being billed as "a brand new 90-minute adaptation perfectly suited for families of all sizes, theatergoers young and old. " Yet, the tickets are still $70 - $20 each, which doesn't seem family friendly at all. But I digress....
I am a HUGE fan of the Dicken's book, so I am very critical of film and stage versions of the story. My favorite is the 1984 TV version starring George C. Scott as "Scrooge". I have never seen a stage version that I liked, including the one I was in at The Mall of America, where I played the "Ghost of Christmas Present" and "Young Marley". Terrible production.

So, my expectations were not high for the final dress at The Guthrie. I knew Emily would be adorable and very good in the show (and of course she was). But as soon as I walked in and saw the same "shadowbox" set with the giant handless clock on it that I saw years before, I knew it was going to be a long night. To my surprise, the show was better than the previous one I saw, however is still wasn't what I would have liked to see.

TV actor Peter Michael Goetz was a competent "Scrooge". His opening scenes in the money lending office were his best in the play. As with many actors who play the part, I never really felt his reformation. He simply said his lines the same way, but with a smile on his face. With that said, Mr. Goetz was able to make me cry...when he accepted a hug from his nephew Fred, played by Rober Berdahl, on Christmas morning. The moment was brilliantly played by both actors. I had higher hopes from Mr. Goetz after seeing his first scene, but sadly he didn't follow through. He started off on a nice progression, but stayed stagnant through most of the play. I saw pain in his eyes over the situation with his younger self and "Belle" (played by John Skelley and Prentis Standridge), but the same pain wasn't there when he witnessed the pathetic Crachit family later on. He simply seemed bored instead.
And speaking of bored, let's discuss the performance of Charity Jones as the "Ghost of Christmas Past"....
Many years ago, I saw Ms. Jones play "Belle" in a stage version of the original French fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast. She was stunning. I simply fell in love with her performance. Then a short time later she played "Glinda" in a stage version of Baum's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. She was perfect....poised, beautiful, wise. She became a Twin Cities favorite of mine. So, all these years later, when I saw she was playing the Christmas Past Ghost, I got very excited...only to be let down with a boring, uninspired performance. She seemed like she didn't want to be there. Her lines were simply spoken and her face blank. It was as if a Stepford Wife had taken over the role. Her costume was odd...looking more like a goofy porcelain doll than a "spirit" of any kind. I was greatly disappointed in her all around. When waiting for Emily after the show, I saw Ms. Jones leaving. Normally I would have killed for the chance to meet her and gush over her. But not that night....instead I just glared.
Steven Epp played "Jacob Marley" and, unfortunately, "The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come". As "Marley", he came off as an angry biker. No misery, no remorse, no repentance. Just anger. As "The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come", he was distracting. Having seen the same actor play the first ghost we meet, then having him play the last just didn't work. Not to mention the fact that the costumer gave him giant "Frankenstein" boots to make him taller....
Lee Mark Nelson as "Bob Cratchit" was my favorite of the evening. I now have a HUGE crush on this man. He was funny when he needed to be funny, pathetic and his breakdown at Tiny Tim's funeral was very real and painful. I wish he had been in the show more!!! he played the family man perfectly. he had a wonderful scene where all his children jumped him and wrestled him to the ground. He seemed right at home surrounded by this gaggle of kids. I just wanted to hug him!

But we were there to see Emily Albert Stauning, the future stage star of the Twin Cities. This is a little girl who simply "gets it", no matter what she's playing. I have dreams if he playing Dorothy for me in the RSC version of The Wizard of Oz someday. I love this kid. She has a focus on stage that most adults don't have. She is a professional and a trooper. I wish there had been a role in the A Christmas Carol she could have done to show her talent, but little girl roles are very limited. She was creepy and pathetic as "Want", the disgusting little child brought by the Ghost of Christmas Present. And as a street urchin, no one did a better job. Seriously, this kid is perfect in everything she does! I want to clone her for MY daughter!!!!
Overall the evening was fun. As always, it was great to see the Stauning family. They are wonderful friends. It was fun to see a final dress at The Guthrie. You could hear the director giving notes to the stage manager. All the production photos I've posted here were taken that night. I just wish that The Guthrie, which uses Dicken's novel as the their bread and butter for the Christmas season, would get the story right....just once.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Oz Room....phase 01

Well, we have the majority of our stuff moved into the new place. You never really appreciate just how much "junk" you can accumulate when you are in one place for 9 years. It's mind blowing!

But, last night after moving a load of stuff over to the new place, Keith and I went our separate ways and worked unpacking our individual areas. Him to his artist studio and me to my Oz room. He had the day off this past Monday, so he's WAY ahead of me.

The first part of the evening consisted of simply trying to get IN the room. There were boxes and furniture everywhere. So, I shoved this and moved that and eventually got to where I could move around and not knock anything over! Next, I washed the display case in the room. I've had it since I was 16 and it's a HUGE piece of antique furniture. A co-worker of my dad's gave it to me, his wife not needing it. She "rescued it from an old department store in Milwaukee years and years ago.

Once the case was cleaned up, I found the box containing my Franklin Mint Oz dolls and started to unpack them. These are the one set of items I knew where they were going and they were in one of the largest boxes. A few hours later, after primping, straightening up and reposing the dolls, they made it into the case, the lid went on it and I had my first Oz collectibles displayed! I was tired, but excited. I wanted t do more, but sadly bedtime was calling (being a "school night" and all...) so I had to close the room down and head to bed.

Tonight we are going to see our favorite little girl play in "A Christmas Carol" at the Guthrie Theatre, and tomorrow night I am hanging out with my mom. So I won't be able to get back into the Oz room until at least Friday...which is slowly killing me every time I think about it!!!! I can't wait to finish and start enjoying my stuff in it's new space. Hopefully this weekend will be devoted to unpacking and both Keith and I can get a big chunk of our stuff in it's place. The room currently looks like this, so you can see there's a lot left to do!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A little about me...

My name is John Nickolaus. I'm 39 years old and live in St. Paul Minnesota with my husband of 3 years, Keith Johnson.

I have a HUGE passion for all things OZ. Books, dolls, statues, Christmas ornaments, poster/prints.....you name it. I especially LOVE Oz stage productions, and memorabilia from them are a large part of my collection. I am currently researching and writing an article about the very first stage production of The Wizard of Oz to use the score from the 1939 MGM film. I hope to submit it to the Baum Bugle and hopefully have it published!

I've collected Oz since I was very little, age 4-5 is what sounds right. Seeing the movie for the first time with my mom is literally my oldest memory. I remember sitting on the floor with her, I must have been about 2 years old, and I remember Dorothy leaving Munchkinland and my mom telling me who she was. That's all I remember, but I remember it very clearly....and it's a great memory!

Keith and I recently moved. in fact, was are STILL moving! I love our new little house. it was built in 1950 and has been owned by one family only. It's adorable. We have a lot of stuff, so it's been a tight squeeze, but we are getting through it. I can't wait to get my Oz stuff set up! And, decorate it for Christmas!!!!

Speaking of Christmas, that's my OTHER collection. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!! I have more decorations than I know what to do with. I start decorating the day after Thanksgiving and it usually takes me that entire weekend. I collect Nativity scenes, so I usually have 3-4 of them displayed every year. I can't wait to get started!!!!

Well, I guess that's all for now. More to come later!!!!