Elephant’s Graveyard, Opening Night And Some History

There was a town. There was a circus. There was railroad. There was a murder…
We had our opening weekend and I do believe the play was a success. I was so mesmerized from the great performances by the actors, the sets, sound and yes, even my costumes! I love how a good play can take you away in a way that films can’t.

 Most of the actors in the play are professional actors who have had long careers in stage and film. 
Santa Paula, where the theatre is located is an hour and 15 minutes from Hollywood, but a world away. 
I grew up in Hollywood myself. I went to Hollywood High School, smack on the corner of Sunset and Highland, in the heart of Hollywood. James Dean, Lana Turner, and Judy Garland went to Hollywood High school too, although several years previously! 
I was in the drama club and did a lot of extra work in films and had some miniscule bit parts on and off. I have to admit I was a terrible actress. But I loved being on film sets, especially all of the yummy free munchies at the concessions table.
My brother, myself, and my Dad, Hollywood, 1970′s.
 I grew up in a typical Hollywood family. Dad was a film editor, and mom was an artsy type.  
Dad at work, Paramount Studios, 1980′s
So when my husband, myself, and our four kids moved out to this very culturally isolated ( to me at least), farmhouse from very crowded, and wordly Santa Monica to live a country life, I became lonely. I was homeschooling my kids, and had a very hard time making friends here. 
Every time I made a friend they seemed to move away! This strange occurrence has happened with five different friends since I moved here 7 years ago. Maybe God is telling me something?
 I bought a horse but was a miserable failure at riding. My horse was an excellent reiner and could spin on a dime, but I was terrified of him! Then he got arthritis and my trainer adopted him. 
When I became pregnant again, 3 1/2 years ago, I started sewing to pass the time. I had attended FIDM but never really used my fashion design degree besides a brief job as a magazine stylist, another brief job as an assistant bridal designer, and a couple of film assistant costuming jobs. I never sewed much except for Halloween costumes after having my first child, who is 18. 
Sewing and blogging has brought me full circle and opened up my world for me. Including my job at the theatre. I love to sit with the actors out back, sometimes steal a cigarette from them, and hear all of the great old Hollywood and theatre stories they have to tell. It feels familiar and comforting. 
Then I get to go home, tend to my chickens, my kids, my husband, home and yard and be the country mom and wife.
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-McKenzie

Comments

  1. Lady Danburry says

    You did such a wonderful job! I’m sure it was great to see it all come together. I love the photo of you with your dad.

  2. says

    Blogging has brought me back to sewing more regularly too! I just find it so relaxing to sew. When I was younger and I sewed there was more of an urgency to getting the garment finished. And that has just gone away totally. Now I sew just to relax…and when I finish a garment and am able to wear it, well, that is just a bonus!
    I lived in Hollywood for a year after I finished teacher’s college. It is rich with culture (and sunshine). I wouldn’t trade that year for anything. But I am happy to be back in Canada now…ANd to mirror your experience, I found it difficult to make friends when I first returned. I think, unfortunately, women place themselves (and their friendships) behind other obligations.

    • Justine of SewCountryChick says

      Yes, sewing is relaxing when we do it for ourselves but when it is a paid job with a deadline it can take some of the fun out of it. Glad you had a good experience in Hollywood!

  3. says

    So wonderful! I was a 1900s “tight rope walker” for Halloween 2 years ago and made my costume from a converted bridesmaid dress I found (extremely shortened). Love this era. Great job.

  4. says

    HI Justine!
    You did a fabulous job on the costumes! You have the right to be very proud, Justine!
    I have to admit I am a wee be jealous of your fashion design degree. I really wish I had gone for something like that. It was great reading a bit about your and what brought you where you are and made you who you are. Thanks for sharing!

    Janelle

    • Justine of SewCountryChick says

      Thank you Janelle!
      Some of the most successful designers don’t have degrees, and to tell you the truth, I don’t think I remembered a whole lot from design school once I got back into sewing. Plus, I am jealous of you for having an awesome handbag line!

  5. says

    Justine, I envy your life. Not the Hollywood stuff at all, but the country life. I envy your chickens and the little acres of heaven that you get to call home. You are great seamstress and taylor. When people ask me what I do for a living, I have always to say that I was a Dressmaker. I can barely sew a straight line on my machine, and that is hard for me to admit. I spend so much time on creative blogs like yours because I would rather look that do. I am a lazy crafter. Your family and home are beautiful. Forget the horses. Get a donkey. They are natural enemies of coyotes and very very sweet. Or two donkeys. They get lonely

    • Justine of SewCountryChick says

      Oh Brandi. You are so sweet.And don’t feel guilty about not crafting enough. We go through peaks in valleys in life and I wasn’t always making so many things. I will talk to my husband about getting a donkey!

  6. Kristina C says

    Justine,
    I came across your blog today and am really enjoying it – great job! Your photos are beautiful and I appreciate your honesty. I grew up in Simi Valley and then Moorpark. We almost purchased an orange grove in Fillmore but ended up with an avocado grove in Moorpark instead. I still remember picking the avocados and how dirty you got and how heavy the bags would get before you dumped them into the bin! How I used to long for the end of the weekend to return to school and rest! And the endless checking of the sprinkles. Also, we would travel to Santa Paula frequently on Balcom Canyon Road to visit my sister, and it was interesting to see some of the same Santa Paula landmarks in your blog that I remember from my youth. I just finished our first year formally homeschooling our 2 young children and also love to sew. Currently, we are taking the summer off from school and I’m learning how to do and working on: refinishing 3 vintage sewing cabinets, recovering our dining room chairs, learning to smock, and doing all the other things that I put off during the school year.) I’ve also been thinking about starting a blog to capture some projects, perhaps your blog will be the inspiration that makes it happen…;-) Best wishes moving forward!

  7. Anonymous says

    I love your costumes, especially the clown! You are so amazing. I miss thrifting with you! …and I love the red typewriter on the top of your facebook page ;) I always think of you as a style inspiration! xo Hilary

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